Feb

24

 From the description on the NY Public Library's site:

Darwin's Disciple, George John Romanes

Thursday, March 3, 2011, 1:15 p.m.

Stephen A. Schwarzman Building, South Court Auditorium (Map and directions)

Fully accessible to wheelchairs

George John Romanes (1848-1894), best known today to the intellectual community for founding the Oxford University lecture series still bearing his name (1891), was a major figure in the history of biology for his advocacy of Darwinian evolution as well as his contributions in animal physiology-discovery of a nervous system in invertebrates-and in animal behavior-recognition of the ability of animals besides humans to reason. But perhaps Romanes's greatest legacy is the support he gave Darwin when it was most needed.

After publication of Darwin's Origin of Species in 1859, Darwin and his work was under attack almost from the outset, not only by the religious establishment but also by scientists offended either by the theory itself or by its primary mechanism, natural selection. Darwin and his theory needed support from other naturalists, and Romanes became a strong advocate for Darwinian evolution in the decade preceding Darwin's death in 1882, and the years before his own death in 1894, thereby filling the vacuum left by evolutionists who disagreed with Darwin on the mechanism by which species evolve.

A former Writer in Residence in the Library's Wertheim Study, Joel S. Schwartz is Professor Emeritus of Biology at the City University of New York, where he served on the faculty for forty years. His scholarly interests have focused on nineteenth century natural history, on the development of natural history, and on how maritime exploration stimulated discovery in the natural sciences. He has published numerous papers and delivered many talks on Charles Darwin, Alfred Russel Wallace, Thomas Henry Huxley, and other eminent Victorian naturalists. His book, Darwin's Disciple: George John Romanes, A Life in Letters, was published July 2010 by Lightning Rod Press at the American Philosophical Society. Currently, he is Contributing Editor of the Darwin Manuscripts Project, based at the American Museum of Natural History.


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