There are huge primary and secondary literatures on evolution and society. Required reading will be kept to an acceptable level by combining the use of a single survey textbook with short extracts from relevant (mainly primary) sources.

Course textbook:

[Bowler] = Bowler, Peter J. Evolution: The History of An Idea. 25th Anniversary ed. University of California Press, 2009. ISBN: 9780520261280.

Two other general texts that are also extremely useful are:

Larson, Edward J. Evolution: The Remarkable History of a Scientific Theory. Modern Library, 2004. ISBN: 9780679642886.

Miller, Kenneth R. Finding Darwin’s God: A Scientist’s Search for Common Ground Between God and Evolution. HarperCollins, 1999. ISBN: 9780060175931.

1 Introduction and Course Overview  
2 The Nature and Scope of the Historical Sciences Chapter 1 in [Bowler].
3 Natural History and Natural Theology

Chapter 2 in [Bowler].

Paley, William. Chapters 1 and 2 in Natural Theology. Oxford University Press, 2006. ISBN: 9780192805843.

4 The Birth of Historical Geology

Chapter 2 in [Bowler]. pp. 35–8.

Chapter 3 in [Bowler]. pp. 57–62.

Chapter 4 in [Bowler]. pp. 108–14.

Required Reading

Larson, Edward J. Chapter 1 in Bursting the Limits of Time. University Of Chicago Press, 2007, pp. 3–26. ISBN: 9780226731131. [Preview with Google Books]

5 Catastrophism and Uniformitarianism

Chapter 4 in [Bowler]. pp. 115–34.

Lyell, Charles. “Principles of Geology.” In The Victorian Age: An Anthology of Sources and Documents. Edited by Josephine M. Guy. Penguin Classics, 1998. ISBN: 9780140435283.

6 “Victorian Sensation” – Chambers’ Vestiges

Chapter 4 in [Bowler]. pp. 134–40.

Vestiges, available online at: Project Gutenberg [Dip in here and there, to get a feel for the text; don’t try to read it all!]

7 Voyages of Exploration, Part I: Darwin

Chapter 5 in [Bowler]. pp. 141–55.

Darwin, Charles. Voyage of the Beagle. Penguin Classics, 1989, pp. 381–4, and 398–403. ISBN: 9780140432688.

8 Voyages of Exploration, Part II: Wallace and Bates

Wallace, Alfred Russel. “On the Law Which Has Regulated the Introduction of New Species.” (1855) [This is available online at: TopSCHOLAR at Western Kentucky University.]

9 The Path to The Origin of Species

Chapter 5 in [Bowler]. pp. 155–76.

The Darwin-Wallace papers (1858); available at: The Dispersal of Darwin.

10 “Mr Darwin’s Hypotheses”

[Bowler]. pp. 177–83.

Darwin, Charles. “Recapitulation and Conclusion.” Chapter 14 in Origin of Species. Empire Books, 2011. ISBN: 9781619491304.  Available online at:

11 Guest Lecture: Andrew Berry  
12 The Reception of Darwinism

Chapter 6 in [Bowler]. pp. 177–223.

Mini-biographies of key figures (to be circulated in class)

13 The “Gospel of Evolution” in the Late-19th Century

Chapter 8 in [Bowler]. pp. 274–324.

Huxley, Thomas. Evolution and Ethics. Kessinger Publishing, 2004. ISBN: 9781419118746. [Preview with Google Books]. Available online at: Clark University: Evolution and Ethics.

14 Evolution and Eugenics

[Bowler]. pp. 256–9, and 308–13.

Galton, Francis. “Hereditary Talent and Character.” Macmillan’s Magazine 12 (1865): 157–66, and 318–27. Available online at:

15 The “Eclipse of Darwinism” in Biology Around 1900 Chapter 7 in [Bowler]. pp. 224–60.
16 The “Eclipse of Darwinism” in the Social Sciences After 1900

Boas, Franz. “Human Faculty as Determined by Race” and “Psychological Problems in Anthropology.” A Franz Boas Reader: The Shaping of American Anthropology. Edited by George W. Stocking. University Of Chicago Press, 1989, pp. 219–21, and 243–54. ISBN: 9780226062433. [Preview with Google Books]

Durkheim, Emile. “What is a Social Fact?” In Rules of Sociological Method: And Selected Texts on Sociology and Its Method. Edited by S. Lukes. Free Press, 1982, pp. 50–9. ISBN: 9780029079300.

17 Evolution and the Rise of Christian Fundamentalism

Larson, Edward J. Chapter 9 in Evolution: The Remarkable History of a Scientific Theory. Modern Library, 2006, pp. 199–218. ISBN: 9780812968491.

Scopes Trial, Darrow cross-examines Bryan; online at:

18 Movie: Inherit the Wind  
19 Darwinism, Mendelism and the Birth of the “Modern Synthesis” Chapter 9 in [Bowler]. pp. 325–46.
20 Changing Understand of Human Origins

Chapter 10 in [Bowler]. pp. 347–55.

Landau, Misia. “Human Evolution as Narrative.” (PDF) American Scientist 72 (1984): 262–8.

21 Darwinism and Behavior: From Ethology to Sociobiology

Chapter 10 in [Bowler]. pp. 353–66.

Wilson, E. O. “What is Sociobiology?” Sociobiology and Human Nature: An Interdisciplinary Critique and Defense (1978): 1–12. Available online at: Pfeiffer University.

22 The Creation Controversies: From “Scientific Creationism” to “Intelligent Design”

Chapter 10 in [Bowler]. pp. 375–81.

McLean versus Arkansas Board of Education (1982), available on-line at:

Kitzmiller versus Dover Area School District, Decision of the Court, 31 December 2005; available on-line

Miller, Kenneth R. Finding Darwin’s God. Harper Perennial, 2007. ISBN: 9780061233500.

23 Guest Lecture  
24 Reclaiming Evolution for the Social Sciences: the New Evolutionary Psychology

Cosmides, Leda, and John Tooby. “Evolutionary Psychology: A Primer.” 1997. Available online at: UC Santa Barbara: Center for Evolutionary Psychology.

25 Evolutionary Humanism, from Julian Huxley to E.O. Wilson Ira Flatow interview with E. O. Wilson about his book, The Creation, on NPR (8th September 2006), available on-line at:
26 Stocktaking: What Makes Evolutionary Biology Special?  

Course Info

Learning Resource Types

notes Lecture Notes
assignment Presentation Assignments
assignment Written Assignments