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Sparks of Life: Darwinism and the Victorian Debates over Spontaneous Generation

Sparks of Life: Darwinism and the Victorian Debates over Spontaneous Generation

by James E. Strick


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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780674009998
Publisher: Harvard
Publication date: 10/15/2002
Edition description: REPRINT
Pages: 304
Product dimensions: 6.12(w) x 9.25(h) x (d)

About the Author

James E. Strick is Professor in the Department of Earth and Environment and Chair of the Program in Science, Technology, and Society at Franklin and Marshall College.

Table of Contents


Early History

Needham versus Spallanzani

Worms, Molecules, and Evolution

Note on Terminology

Why Another Study of the Spontaneous

Generation Debates?

1 Spontaneous Generation and Early Victorian Science

The Standard Story of the British Debates

Bastian and Burdon Sanderson

Criticisms of Bastian by Lankester and Roberts

The Germ Theory of Disease

The Role of Heat-Resistant Spores

Major Victorian Scientists through the 1860s

2 "Molecular"Theories and the Conversion of Owen and Bennett

Brownian Movement and Histological Molecules

Owen's Role in Developing Ideas on

Spontaneous Generation

John Hughes Bennett and "Histological Molecules"

Owen's Change and the Darwinians

Bennett's Conversion to Spontaneous Generation

Further Response to Owen's Conversion

3 Bastian as Rising Star

Bastian's Background

Bastian Enters the Spontaneous Generation Debate

Wallace and Darwin Discuss Bastian

Further Support for Bastian

4 Initial Confrontation with the X Club: 1870-1873

Huxley's Tightrope Act

Huxley's Attitude toward Young Men of Talent

Huxley Turns against Bastian

Brownian Movement and Other Rhetorical Devices

The Younger Darwinians

Bastian, Huxley, and the Royal Society

E. Ray Lankester and Bastian

5 Colloids, PleomorphicTheories, and Cell Theories: A State of Flux

Thomas Graham and Colloids

Conservation of Energy and Correlation of Forces

Cell Theory and the Demise of

Histological Molecules

Brownian Movement Revisited

Life Cycles in Infusorial Monads

Pleomorphist Theories of Bacteria

6 Germ Theories and the British Medical Community

The Cattle Plague of 1865-66 and Germ Theories

Tyndall, the Germ Theory, and the

Medical Community

Support in the Medical Community for Bastian

The Pathological Society Debate of April 1875

The Physiological Society

7 Purity and Contamination: Tyndall's Campaign as the Final Blow

Tyndall's A Priori Commitments

Embarking on the Quest and Recruiting Support

The Exact Sciences versus the Biomedical Sciences

The X Club and the Royal Society

Spores: Tough Allies to Kill

Convincing Pasteur: Urine Proves a Weak Ally


Epilogue, 1880 through 1915



Cast of Characters




What People are Saying About This

Garland E. Allen

A very important contribution to the literature of the spontaneous generation debates, one that ties together many parts of the story that have never been dealt with in one place. More important, Strick has placed his narrative in the context not only of recent scholarship on Pasteur, Tyndall, Huxley, and the X-Club, but he also provides a contextualist analysis that shows far more clearly exactly how and why the debates took the course they did. A very fine piece of work.
Garland E. Allen, Washington University

Adrian Desmond

By focusing on Darwin's London and Pasteur's Paris, explaining the issues and historical approaches to both, Strick knits together the academic topics of Darwinian evolution, the Pasteurization of France, and germ theories of disease--by means of a deep study of specific Darwinian medical men in England and their recourse to spontaneous generation. We thereby sense that the book is pleasingly overarching, while at the same time focused.
Adrian Desmond, author of Huxley:From Devil's Disciple to Evolution's High Priest

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