David N. LivingstoneAug 6, 2014
Dealing with Darwin
Place, Politics, and Rhetoric in Religious Engagements with Evolution
Johns Hopkins University Press 2014
David N. Livingstone's new book traces the processes by which communities of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries that shared the same Scottish Calvinist heritage engaged with Darwin and Darwinians in different local contexts. Dealing with Darwin: Place, Politics, and Rhetoric in Religious Engagements with Evolution (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2014) locates evolutionary debates in particular sites and situations as a way of understanding the history of science in terms of "geographies of reading" and "speech spaces." The chapters introduce episodes that bring us into specific localities of reading and talking about Darwin, from Edinburgh in the 1870s, to Belfast during the "Winter of Discontent" following John Tyndall's "Belfast Address," to Toronto, to South Carolina, and finally to Princeton, NJ. These episodes collectively move readers away from understanding Darwin and his histories in terms of "isms," instead looking carefully at the roles of three interrelated factors in shaping public encounters with Darwin's ideas: place, politics, and rhetoric. The book concludes with a look at the ways that these factors continue to be pervasive in more recent dealings with Darwin. With its vibrant language, careful research, and compelling argument, Dealing with Darwin will be a must-read for historians of science, especially those interested in evolution, religion, Darwin, and/or locality.