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Archive for May, 2009

The Art of Evolution: Charles Darwin and Visual Cultures
This conference will be held at the Courtauld Institute, London from July 2-4, for any members who will be in London during the semester break.

Sarah Thomas, a member of this group, will be presenting her research.

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This week’s discussion will be lead by Chiara and Kate (Davidson). As preparation for the meeting, they have suggested it would be ideal if people could take the time to visit the exhibition currently on at the MacLeay Museum, from which the May 1 session takes its title (see below).

Accidental Encounters is an exhibition that uses as its inspiration the correspondence of one of Britain’s most influential intellectual partnerships that of Thomas and Henrietta Huxley. Concentrating predominantly on the years when the couple first met in Australia, the exhibition includes six distinct sections, each drawing out an aspect of the life that led to the cultural inspiration and science that the Huxleys would one day be famous for:

  • selections from the letters between ‘Hal’ and ‘Nettie’
  • Gwiom’s story – how knowledge is acquired from local peoples.
  • Adventures in New Guinea – life on the ship
  • Laughter and song – shared expressions of culture
  • Postscript – the legacy of the Huxley family
  • Darwin’s Bulldog – the Oxford debate and the rise of Thomas Huxley

As Hal and Nettie’s growing relationship is the central focus of the exhibition, each section includes references and examples of the books they were reading, the music they shared and the news they exchanged about their lives. As Iain McCalman’s Darwin’s Armada shows most clearly it is the long arduous ship voyage endured by Darwin on the Beagle that unites the four men whose names would become synonymous with the ideas of evolution and natural selection. The exhibition was conceived in partnership with Iain and with the Australian National Maritime Museum’s Charles Darwin: Voyages and ideas that Shook the World exhibition.

Macleay Museum,

Science Rd,

University of Sydney Camperdown

Campus Opening hours Monday to Friday 10.00 – 4.30 Sunday 12 noon – 4.00 Closed on Public Holidays


Reading 1:

Anne Secord: ‘Corresponding Interests: Artisans and Gentlemen in Nineteenth-Century Natural History Author(s)‘, The British Journal for the History of Science, Vol. 27, No. 4 (Dec., 1994), pp. 383-408

Reading 2:

Barbara T. Gates,‘Introduction: Why Victorian Natural History’,Victorian Literature and Culture‘, (2007), 35, 539–549


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