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Week Two (Thurs, 1/27): Small Group Discussion


I. Coursekeeping
learning one another's names, via “what we fancy”

for Tuesday, read next 100 pages in On The Origin of the Species:
Chapters 5-8 (pp. 178-268)

II. So: where are we/you, experientially and intellectually?
with the experience of reading Darwin? Like it? Hard? Dry? Interesting?
Familiar? (how much can we REALLY hear it freshly?)

Where are you, more generally, with Darwin, w/ Paul’s story about science as a story, w/ my story about literary reading as evolutionary….?

III. What difference does it make (for a reader-response theorist)
that Darwin had an intention? (Cf. ED: “to take US lands away”--
didn’t intend to evoke, as she evoked for two of us, those
excluded from literacy, those preferring an active life to reading one)

IV. Let’s look @ the style of Darwin’s story
on reading this as a novel! (for me: very attentive to
the way it is written): What would you notice?
What assumptions does he make about his audience??
(Did you feel invited in/included?)

Does this story fit w/ Paul’s story of how science works:
revisable, etc.?

What are the differences between Darwin's and Paul's story about evolution?
i.e.: how has the story of evolution itself evolved?

For example: how important is the role of spontaneous generation in Darwin's conception of evolution?
How much does he emphasize a designer/an architect?
Did he think of evolution as indeterminate and exploratory,
or as explaining patterns that are?
Did he see a moral trajectory in the process?
How much emphasis did he place on competition, on winners?
What about human exceptionalism?

V. What are the benefits and costs of seeing similarities/differences between science and literary studies?

VI. What are the implications of this story (of the similarities) for our pedagogy? (on the pedagogical form of the course, being appropriate to its theme: co-constructed inquiry)

VII. Devolution
(Cassie’s Korn music video; Poppyflower’s disturbing one)
a system/matter of value??
what are the standards of measuring??

VIII. On the Nature of Truth
skindeep re: local and larger truths
kgrass: what makes one interpretation more valuable than another?
sa2120: what is society built itself around a story: unethical to disprove it?
hiehman: if no truth what’s the point of studying?
rachelr: North has shifted: terrified no absolute
ems8140: if true, no chance to develop

IX. On the Nature of Science
(cremisi and mgz24 on New Yorker article,
The Truth Wears Off on the decline effect/publishing bias)
Ashley, etc: not the way presented/new idea/failure=success

Reading Notes
12: classification system became explanatory
(hierarchy because of generation)
41: work of scientific magnitude and literary imagination
48: social constructionist vs. realist perspective of science
Darwin’s introduction:
95: “When on board…as naturalist, I was much struck with certain facts…This Abstract must necessarily be imperfect…I must trust to the reader….”
99: when we look to the individuals…one of the first points which strikes us…
is that they differ…
116: eminent breeders try by methodical selection, with a distinct object in view, to make a new strain…but for our purpose, a kind of Selection, which may be called Unconscious…is more important…
119: it is in human nature to value any novelty
a breed, like a dialect of a language,
can hardly be said to have had a definite origin
127: term species…arbitrarily given
136: every single organic being striving to increase its numbers
(battle, war, extermination)
148: natural selection will insure that modifications will not be injurious (???)