This episode of the Maine Humanities Council’s Humanities on Demand podcast series is a recording of the talk “Darwin Revisited in the 21st Century,” by Janet Browne. Her lecture was part of the first annual Dorothy Schwartz Forum on Art, Science, and the Humanities. It was held on November 15th, 2014, and focused on the topic “Why Darwin Matters.”
Janet Browne is Aramont Professor of the History of Science at Harvard University. Her interests range widely over the history of the life sciences and natural history. After a first degree in zoology, she studied for a PhD in the history of science at Imperial College London, published The Secular Ark: Studies in the History of Biogeography (1983). Ever since then she has specialized in reassessing Charles Darwin’s work, first as associate editor of the early volumes of The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, and more recently as author of a major biographical study that integrated Darwin’s science with his life and times.
In this podcast, she discusses Darwin’s private life and his enduring presence in 21st century culture and science. “For better or worse, Darwin’s become a brand name. He’s become the symbol of evolutionary theory and all that goes with it.” She attributes this mainly to the excellence of Darwin’s vision, and says that it is “astonishing that this theory still has the power to move and work and to be explored.“