Revisiting Evolutionary Naturalism: New Perspectives on Victorian Science and Culture. Node Workshop May 6 – 7th, 2011 York University

Network Node: 
Fri., May. 6, 2011 (All day) - Sat., May. 7, 2011 (All day)

Revisiting Evolutionary Naturalism: New Perspectives on Victorian Science and Culture
May 6 – 7th, 2011
York University, Toronto, Canada

Ever since the 1970’s, when Robert Young and Frank Turner treated T. H. Huxley, John Tyndall, and their allies as posing an effective challenge to the authority of the Anglican clergy, scholars have found the term “scientific naturalism,” or “evolutionary naturalism,” to be a useful shorthand for referring to an influential group of like-minded elite intellectuals.  But over the years, questions have been raised about the cohesiveness and the cultural status of scientific naturalism.  Is the term elastic enough to include both the idealist and romantic Karl Pearson as well as the hard-nosed materialist Charles Bastian?  Just how powerful were the scientific naturalists if they disagreed amongst themselves on key issues, and if, as many recent studies have suggested, they were confronted by a host of effective opponents in addition to Anglican clergymen, including North British physicists, Oxbridge trained gentlemen of science, self-trained popularizers of science, philosophical idealists, spiritualists, feminists, anti-vivisectionists, and socialists?  Indeed, how far were the practices and writings of scientific naturalists actually shaped by their interchanges with such myriad opponents?

In this workshop we hope to explore new perspectives on the British scientific naturalists, re-examining their interactions with each other and with other groups within the larger culture.  Speakers include Ruth Barton, Peter J. Bowler, Gowan Dawson, James Elwick, Jim Endersby, George Levine, Bernard Lightman, Ted Porter, Evelleen Richards, Joan Richards,  Michael Reidy, Jonathan Smith, Robert Smith, Matthew Stanley, Michael Taylor, and Paul White.  The workshop will take place at 320 Bethune College, York University, Toronto, Canada on May 6th and 7th, 2011.  It is sponsored by York University, SSHRC, and by Situating Science.