Darwin and Dickens Class Begins!

We have had two three-hour class meetings so far. 

At our first class meeting, students received the two assigned readings for the course: Madame Bovary’s Ovaries: A Darwinian Look at Literature by David and Nanelle Barash and Great Expectations by Charles Dickens.  Everyone introduced herself/himself and we all enjoyed getting to know each other a bit over scones, coffee, and, of course, tea. Dr. Firenze treated us to a fascinating biography of Charles Darwin and, towards the end of our first meeting, Dr. Saraceno and Dr. Firenze explained that this course can best be understood as an effort to discuss and therefore illuminate the concept of human nature as it evolved in both literature and science during the Victorian period.  While this endeavor by itself is certainly an attractive and stimulating prospect, it is made all the more exciting by the fact that WE ARE GOING TO LONDON!!!!!

At our second class meeting the students took a short quiz on Madame Bovary’s Ovaries and we had a great discussion about the book that focused on several interesting themes: sexual jealousy, male and female mate selection, adultery, kin selection, reciprocal altruism and competition.  Dr. Saraceno, Dr. Firenze and Dr. Musa were pleased and impressed with the level and quality of student participation.  However, in all fairness, at times the discussion did stray from Darwinian themes in literature to what you can and cannot bring on a plane these days (mac and cheese: yes, hamsters: no). There were more scones and Dr. Saraceno favored us with an enchanting overview of Victorian London.  We are looking forward to our next (and last prior to crossing the pond) class meeting where we will discuss Great Expectations and learn more about Charles Dickens.  

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~ by Dr. Musa on May 16, 2007.

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