Darwin, Origin of Species
Paper instructions:
Darwin–a moderately devout man himself, although increasingly doubtful as he grew older–well knew that Origin of Species would be attacked upon various grounds, especially for its supposed impiety. In what ways do you see Darwin anticipating a less than receptive audience, an audience that will feel its traditional beliefs are being challenged? You might consider not only the sequence of chapters (why does he begin with domestic or artificial selection?), but also specific passages (e.g., the famous “Tree of Life” passage on page 74 or the concluding passage on pages 120-121). How do you account for Darwin’s fairly frequent recourse to adjectives such as “wonderful” or “beautiful” when speaking of adaptations? Do not simply answer these questions one after another; I’m offering them as brainstorming tools to help you get ideas, not as paint-by-numbers questions that you “fill in” in your actual paper. You need to devise your own thesis about Darwin’s book (not just Darwin himself or evolutionary theory), and select suitable quotes. Ideally, your paper should show that you understand 1) the relationship of Darwin’s theory to the intellectual currents of the historical period in which he was writing (read the lecture notes!), 2) Darwin’s basic argument in his book, and 3) the strategic or rhetorical ways in which he conveys his argument in his book. Again, do not just mechanically “answer” the previous 1,2,3: the basic goal is to show you understand how Darwin’s specific book—the content of the treatise and the way he presents that content–relates to and responds to its intellectual/cultural context.

Again, ponder stages of analysis, including historical context. Your paper might not even begin talking about Darwin or his book per se (except for your intro., until page three or so).

no more than 20% of your paper should be quoted material, whether from the main texts or secondary sources

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Secondary material links:

Link #1. Go to the main online page for FIU Libraries, click on the link to connect from home (if you are working from home), click on “Find Articles and Do Research” link, find the “A-Z” list of electronic journals/resources, find the electronic journal “Project Muse,” and do a search to find this essay: Cosans, Chris

Was Darwin a Creationist?


Link #2. Also use “Project Muse” to find this essay: Campbell, John Angus

Why Was Darwin Believed? Darwin’s Origin and the Problem of Intellectual Revolution