Darwin And The Making Of Sexual Selection

Hardcover | March 13, 2017

byEvelleen Richards

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Darwin’s concept of natural selection has been exhaustively studied, but his secondary evolutionary principle of sexual selection remains largely unexplored and misunderstood. Yet sexual selection was of great strategic importance to Darwin because it explained things that natural selection could not and offered a naturalistic, as opposed to divine, account of beauty and its perception. 
 
Only now, with Darwin and the Making of Sexual Selection, do we have a comprehensive and meticulously researched account of Darwin’s path to its formulation—one that shows the man, rather than the myth, and examines both the social and intellectual roots of Darwin’s theory. Drawing on the minutiae of his unpublished notes, annotations in his personal library, and his extensive correspondence, Evelleen Richards offers a richly detailed, multilayered history. Her fine-grained analysis comprehends the extraordinarily wide range of Darwin’s sources and disentangles the complexity of theory, practice, and analogy that went into the making of sexual selection. Richards deftly explores the narrative strands of this history and vividly brings to life the chief characters involved. A true milestone in the history of science, Darwin and the Making of Sexual Selection illuminates the social and cultural contingencies of the shaping of an important—if controversial—biological concept that is back in play in current evolutionary theory.

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Darwin’s concept of natural selection has been exhaustively studied, but his secondary evolutionary principle of sexual selection remains largely unexplored and misunderstood. Yet sexual selection was of great strategic importance to Darwin because it explained things that natural selection could not and offered a naturalistic, as oppo...

Evelleen Richards is honorary professor in the history and philosophy of science at University of Sydney and affiliated scholar of history and philosophy of science at University of Cambridge.
Format:HardcoverDimensions:672 pages, 9 × 6 × 0.98 inPublished:March 13, 2017Publisher:University Of Chicago PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:022643690X

ISBN - 13:9780226436906

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Table of Contents

List of Illustrations
List of Abbreviations
Acknowledgments
Prologue / “An Awful Stretcher”
Part I: Beauty, Brotherhood, and Breeding: The Origins of Sexual Selection
One / The Ugly Brother
Two / Good Wives
Three / “Bliss Botanic” and “Cocks Heroic”: Two Darwins in the “Temple of Nature”
Four / Beauty Cuts the Knot
Five / Reading the Face of Race
Six / Good Breeding: The Art of Mating
Seven / “Better Than a Dog Anyhow”
Eight / Flirting with Fashion
Nine / Development Matters
Part II: “For Beauty’s Sake”: The Making of Sexual Selection
Ten / Critical Years: From Pigeons to People
Eleven / Putting Female Choice in (Proper) Place
Twelve / The Battle for Beauty: Wallace versus Darwin
Thirteen / Writing the Descent: From Bird’s-Eye View to Masterful Breeder
Fourteen / The Post-Descent Years: Sexual Selection in Crisis, Female Choice at Large
Epilogue / Last Words
Notes
Bibliography
Index

Editorial Reviews

“A towering achievement and a magnificent feast. All the leading Darwin themes are here: race, empire, capital, sex, gender, marriage, family, breeding, class, competition, mind, brain, heredity, embryology, ancestry, adaptation, progress, fashion, aesthetics, morals, politics, and religion. All are related to one another and to Darwin’s theory of sexual selection with cogent, comprehensive, contextual interpretations; incisive, meticulous, textual explications; tireless, critical, archival research, and judicious, sensitive, biographical scholarship. There is no better book on Darwin.”