Ant 98: Syllabus

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Anthropology 98-034 (Directed Group Study) 
19th Century Origins of Evolutionary Anthropology
Winter Quarter 2004
T/Th 4:40-6:00PM; Location TBA; 4 hrs; CRN #51851


Course Description
Goal and Objectives
Readings Materials
Attendance and Participation
Course Format and Expectations
Supplemental Readings
Web-Based Resources
Added Note

Bruce Winterhalder
Anthropology & Graduate Group in Ecology
218 Young Hall
[; phone 754-4770]

Course Description 

This course will feature original texts, biographic and interpretive readings on the key figures of 19th Century revolution in human evolutionary theory, including Lamarck, Malthus, Mendel, Wallace and Spencer, but focusing particularly on Darwin. We will attend to their views on human origins, evolution, adaptation and behavior, and to the impact of their ideas on contemporary attempts to develop an evolutionary anthropology.

We will begin with an extended video history of Darwin's formative intellectual experiences, as he described them in The Voyage of the Beagle and his autobiographical writings. I will supplement the film with lectures on the historical and intellectual context for the evolutionary work of Lamarck, and the research and evolutionary theories of Spencer and Wallace. We will make a close textual analysis of Malthus' An Essay on the Principle of Population, and then follow with major sections of Darwin's The Origin of SpeciesThe Descent of Man, and Expression of the Emotions in Man and Animals. We will consider the reactions of other scientists, clerics and the public to Darwin's ideas, through the end of the 19th Century and the emergence of social Darwinism.

The last section of the class will bring the evolutionary theories of the middle-to-late 19th Century forward to those of the late 20th Century, to provide a contemporary appreciation of the theoretical developments of a Century earlier. Along with other controversies about the wisdom and consequences of attempting to understand humans in evolutionary terms, we will consider the creationists' critique of neo-Darwinian evolution.

The class will mix lecture and discussion. It should be useful as an introduction or complement to a variety of upper-level anthropology courses in archaeology, biological anthropology, human and primate evolution, human and primate behavioral ecology, and Darwinian medicine and psychology. Majors in Anthropology, Biology, History of Science and Psychology should find it especially valuable to cover this material.

Several general questions will guide our study of Darwin and neo-Darwinsim. The first is biographic and historic: What prepared Darwin to make such profound and enduring contributions to science? The second is theoretical: What were his main ideas and how have they endured the last century and a half? The third question is one of relevance: How does neo-Darwinism contribute to our understanding of what it means to be human?

Goal and Objectives 

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By the end of the course you will be well-versed in evolutionary theory and the history of Darwinism. However, unlike many who are knowledgeable about evolution, you will have read extensively and carefully from Darwin himself. You will be able to:

  • discuss Darwin's development as a major figure of 19th century science;
  • place him relative to other contemporary figures who contributed to our modern understanding of evolution;
  • describe the essentials of his ideas and their fate through the subsequent history of evolutionary science;
  • appreciate the impact of evolutionary thinking on analysis and explanation of a variety of human behaviors, from mating tactics to economic exchange; and,
  • use this information to think critically and constructively about human nature, diversity and commonality.

Readings Materials 

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Three books comprise the bulk of the reading required of everyone in this course. They are listed immediately below, and are available in the textbook department of the university store.

Appleman, Phillip (ed.) 1991 An Essay on the Prinicple of Population(Norton Critical Edition). New York: W. W. Norton.
Appleman, Phillip (ed.) 2000 Darwin (Norton Critical Edition). New York: W. W. Norton.
Darwin, Charles 2002 [1971] Expression of the Emotions in Man and Animals. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

In addition, you will be asked to read six selections from a short course pack. You can get additional credit by reading and writing a review of one of the many biographies of Darwin (see “Darwin Biographies”). These biographies can be obtained from the library, your local independent bookstore (e.g., Avid Reader), most likely by special order, or through one of the on-line book sellers.

Attendance and Participation 

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This class is a student-based learning experience. Discussion of readings and guiding questions, and student presentations, make up most of the sessions. I do not keep a formal roll. However, you will be graded on your informed participation, and that requires careful, timely preparation and regular attendance.

Readings should be completed by the class period which follows the date of their assignment. The class requires an average amount of reading (40-50 pages per session). However, it requires greater than usual care in reading. And it requires greater than usual participation.

Course Format & Expectations 

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The thirty class sessions include the following kinds of activities:

  • Lectures (8)
  • Discussion (in class; 11)
  • Professor unavoidable absent (1)

Note that discussion predominate, requiring your informed, verbal participation.

There are three kinds of written assignments:

a) Two short essays (3-5, double-spaced, printed pages), on a topic handed out approximately two weeks before the due date;

b) Written discussion questions. Please prepare 2-4 discussion questions (one copy to hand in at the beginning of class, one to keep), for each discussion (D) class. Be sure that your name, the class # and date are on the copy you give to me.

c) A written final exam. This exam will be cumulative and will be based on questions handed out approximately a week before the scheduled time for the final.


The UC-Davis honor code is to be observed in this class. I grade on a ‘fudged’ curve. The curve is necessary to accurately reflect differing degrees of effort and comprehension. It will be fudged, that is adjusted upward or downward, depending on overall class performance. For instance, if everyone does very well, the curve will be moved upward to reflect that.

Grading of these assignments will be weighted as follows:

Short essays (2)
Discussion Participation


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Class # & Date
Class Activity

Introduction: Context and Contemporaries

1. Th 8 Jan Voyage, Pts 1-2
Appleman, 44-49
L: Course introduction
2. T 13 Jan Voyage, Pts 3-4
Appleman, 61-64
L: Lamarck
3. Th 15 Jan Voyage, Pts 5-7 L: Wallace
4. T 20 Jan Malthus, xi-xxvii, 15-35 L: Spencer
5. Th 22 Jan Malthus, 36-91 L: Darwin

The 19th Century: Malthus

6. T 26 Jan Malthus, 92-139 DEssay
7. Th 29 Jan Appleman, 87-135 DEssay

The 19th Century: Darwin

8. T 3 Feb Appleman, 135-174 DOrigin
9. Th 5 Feb Appleman, 175-213 P: No Class
10. T 10 Feb Appleman, 213-254 DOrigin
Essay #1 Due
11. Th 12 Feb Appleman, 257-288 DDescent
12. T 17 Feb Darwin, #-# DDescent
13. Th 19 Feb Darwin, #-# DExpression
14. T 24 Feb Mayr (1977)
Appleman, 373-386

The 20th Century: Neo-Darwinism & Some Issues

15. Th 26 Feb Appleman, 389-403
L & B (2002), 69-108
L: Neo-Darwinism
16. T 2 Mar L&B (2002), 109-151 L: Social Darwinism
17. Th 4 Mar Hrdy (1988)
Appleman, 426-449
L: Darwin & Behavior
18. T 9 Mar Overton (1982)
Mayr (1988)
Appleman, 555-564
D: “. . .isms” 
Essay #2 Due
19. Th 11 Mar Appleman, 670-682
Hogan (1988), 133-146
D: “. . .isms”

Course Conclusion

20. T 16 Mar No Assignment D: Conclusion

Supplemental Readings (Course Pack Materials) 

Blaffer Hrdy, S. 1988 Raising Darwin's Consciousness: Females and Evolutionary Theory. In The Evolution of Sex edited by R. Bellig and G. Stevens, pp. 161-172. Harper and Row, San Francisco.

Hogan, J.P. 1988 Code of the Lifemaker: Prologue, The Searcher. In Minds, Machines and Evolution edited by J.P. Hogan, pp. 133-146. Bantam Books, Toronto.

Laland, K.N. and Brown, G.R. 2002 Sense and Nonsense: Evolutionary Perspectives on Human Behavior, pp. 69-196. Oxford University Press, Oxford.

Mayr, E. 1988 The ideological resistance to Darwin's theory of natural selection. Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society 135: 123-139.

Mayr, E. 1977 Darwin and Natural Selection: How Darwin may have discovered his highly unconventional theory. American Scientist 65: 321-327.

Overton, W.R. 1982 Creationism in schools: The decision in McLean versus the Arkansas board of education. Science 215: 934-943.

Web-based Resources 

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I encourage you to explore web-based resources related to the materials being covered in this class. The following are some places to begin:

I also hope you will watch for media examples of the ways in which evolutionary theory and arguments are important in the contemporary world. Please bring these too class.

Added Note 

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All of Darwin's major publications (and much more) can be found on the Lightbinder CD ROM entitled, Darwin, 2nd edition. If you have ready access to a computer, and are one of those persons who finds it easy to read "on-screen," then I recommend you purchase this rather than the printed volumes I have listed above. You will have some difficulty coordinating page numbers and text with those using the bound volumes, but will be rewarded with a treasury of Darwin materials.