The Life Sciences since 1750

History 180

Spring 2016
Day & Time: 
MWF 100-200

Naturalists ventured beyond the routine identification of plants and animals during the Enlightenment. Many of them began the systematic investigation of laws of the biological world. This change in the life sciences occurred amidst political revolution, imperial conquest, industrialization, and widespread social unrest. The new science of biology was no less revolutionary. Its principles shaped modern society and even caused people to question humanity's role in the cosmos. This course examines the individual choices that these biologists made while venturing into this new study of life. What was at stake? What questions did they ask? When faced with competing explanations for the natural world, why did they choose the explanations that gave us modern biology today? Special attention will be paid to concepts of generation, the history of evolutionary theories, and the emergence of modern molecular biology.

Course Books

The Double Helix: A Personal Account of the Discovery of the Structure of DNA by Watson, James Touchstone. ISBN: 978-0743216302 Required
Finding Order in Nature: The Naturalist Tradition from Linnaeus to EO Wilson by Faber, Paul Johns Hopkins University Press. ISBN: 9780801863905 Required
Genesis: The Evolution of Biology by Sapp, Jan Oxford University Press. ISBN: 9780195156195 Required