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Title: The record of the rocks : writing science in the nineteenth century
Author: Snyder, Erin Eileen
ISNI:       0000 0004 2724 9535
Awarding Body: University of Sheffield
Current Institution: University of Sheffield
Date of Award: 2010
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My thesis addresses representations of science in the nineteenth century in works spanning several disciplines. I began with the geologist Charles Lyell, discussing how his work Principles of Geology positions the role of science in relation to religion, and his use of analogical reasoning. I then went on to examine public use of and response to Principles, in newspapers, lectures, and reviews by fellow geologists. Next, I considered Tennyson, and his use of geological and evolutionary language. While Lyell's Uniformitarian (non-progressive) theories posed a challenge to a spiritual understanding of God's plan as visible in the world, Tennyson considers and largely rejects these ideas in favor of a progressive idea of change, in which alteration is guided by God in a positive direction. Tennyson's reading of Darwin complicated this idea in his later poems, and I addressed both the Origin of Species and The Descent of Man in the third chapter. I examined Darwin's use of language and the implications it has for the development of his theory, with particular attention to moments of directionalism that appear despite Darwin's stated view of Natural Selection as operant on an entirely momentby- moment basis. Finally, I considered three works by H.G. Wells. I analyzed how Wells develops Darwin's ideas of evolution in The Time Machine and The Island of Doctor Moreau, first as a nightmarish future of "devolution," and secondly as an attempt to wrest control of Nature for human purposes, with no guiding ethics. In The Outline of History, Wells sees planned culture as the evolutionary frontier for humanity. The teleology that haunts Darwin's work, and upon which Tennyson and Wells base their ideas of the development of humanity, clearly remains today. Concepts of directed change and a purposeful world continue to define some current responses to biology, technology, and the future.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available