Working in collaboration with Professor Sarah Richardson, Dr Philippa Hardman has developed a customized set of Darwin and Gender themed resources for a course on Gender, Sex and Evolution at Harvard University.
Containing extracts from Darwin’s published works as well as from his private correspondence, the resource is designed to encourage students to explore disparities between Darwin’s public ideas and those he expressed in private.
More generally, the resources are designed to encourage students to investigate the relationship between science, culture and constructions of gender. Core questions raised by the resources include:
- To what extent were Darwin’s ideas about the sexes influenced by the culture in which he lived?
- Did the work of scientists like Darwin help to reinforce patriarchal order?
- What do Darwin and his correspondents’ private ideas, actions and language tell us about the impact of gender ideology in ‘real life’?
Five of the most exciting projects to come out of the collaboration are featured here!
||Nora is a freshman. She studies predominantly in the English department but also has an interest in science and gender.||Nora enjoyed utilizing a non-conventional medium to explore the intersection between Darwin and gender; her quirky cartoon strip sets out a research agenda for the Darwin and Gender initiative and raises some interesting research questions about the gendered nature of content, language and tone in Darwin’s letters.|
||Mark is a junior who specialises in the History of Science. He was especially interested in taking Sex, Gender, and Evolution to further explore the way in which society’s conception of conventional gender roles has developed over time.||Mark’s comparative essay on Darwin’s letters to his son, George, and daughter, Henrietta, explores the theme of family, labour and gender in Darwin’s private world. What does the relative length, content and tone of the letters that Darwin wrote to his children tell us about his attitude to men and women more generally?|
||Jasmine is a senior concentrating in History of Science. Her interest in the intersection of gender studies and evolutionary science led her to take Professor Richardson’s “Sex, Gender, and Evolution” course and she has thoroughly enjoyed exploring this fascinating field.||Jasmine’s mock article, “Darwin Shaves,” is a fun, creative piece of writing which explores how Darwin’s beard symbolised his status as a gentleman and scientist. What implications might there have been if Darwin had opted for the clean shaven look?|
||Kim is a sophomore and a psychology major. She enjoyed learning about Darwin, and through studying his correspondence, coming to understand the context in which he carried out research.||Kim’s essay explores the relationship between Darwin’s personal experience of courtship and his theory of sexual selection. To what extent were Darwin’s scientific ideas influenced by the world around him?|
||Amanda is a freshman. She chose to take this course to learn about History of Science and to gain some insight into the complicated life and studies of Charles Darwin.||Amanda’s light hearted TV-quiz-themed film raises some interesting research questions and highlights the contribution that the Darwin and Gender research initiative might make to the history of science.|