events

TALK in London & Oxford: "Indefatigable Naturalists: Wallace and Darwin on the Evolutionary Trail" by Jim Costa

On 24 and 30 July 2014, Jim Costa will be delivering a paper on Wallace and Darwin entitled “Indefatigable Naturalists: Wallace and Darwin on the Evolutionary Trail” in both London and Oxford.

Here is the abstract:

Alfred Russel Wallace was the last of the great Victorian naturalists, and by the end of his long life in 1913 he was also one of the most famous scientists in the world, lauded by leading learned societies, British royalty and US Presidents alike. Against all odds—lacking wealth, formal education, social standing or connections—Wallace became the pre-eminent tropical naturalist of his day. He founded one entirely new discipline—evolutionary biogeography—and, with Darwin, co-founded another: evolutionary biology. Yet today Darwin’s name is universally recognised, while Wallace is all but unknown. Jim traces the independent development of Wallace’s and Darwin’s evolutionary insights, exploring the fascinating parallels, intersections and departures in their thinking.

Drawing on Wallace’s “Species Notebook” (the most important of Wallace’s field notebooks kept during his southeast Asian explorations of the 1850s) Costa puts Wallace’s thinking into a new light in relation to that of his more illustrious colleague. He also examines the ups and downs of Wallace’s relationship with Darwin, and critically evaluates the misleading “conspiracy theories” that Wallace was wronged by Darwin and his circle over credit for the discovery of natural selection. Tracing the arc of Wallace’s reputation from meteoric rise in the 19th century to virtual eclipse in the 20th, Costa restores Wallace to his proper place in the limelight with Darwin.

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TALK in Cardiff: "Shedding new light on Alfred Russel Wallace’s insect specimens" by Dr George Beccaloni

Do you want to know more about Alfred Russel Wallace and his entomological collections? If so, you’re in luck.

The entomologist and Director of the Wallace Fund, Dr George Beccaloni, is to deliver a paper entitled: “Shedding new light on Alfred Russel Wallace’s insect specimens” in Cardiff on 25 June 2014. Here is the abstract:

Alfred Russel Wallace (1823-1913) is best known as being the co-discoverer of evolution by natural selection and the ‘father’ of zoogeography, however, he was also one of the greatest collectors of tropical insects and other animals of the 19th century. Wallace collected specimens for his private collection and also on a commercial basis for four years in Brazil and eight years in South-East Asia (Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore and East Timor). During the latter expedition he shipped back almost 110,000 insects to the UK, many of which were species new to science. My talk will give an overview of the insect specimens Wallace collected and where they are now. I will also discuss how my study of his data labels and collecting notebooks (recently digitised as part of the Wallace Correspondence Project) has shed new light on where and when the specimens were collected, adding much to their scientific value.

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BAVS Annual Conference on "Victorian Sustainability" opens for registration

The British Association for Victorian Studies has opened (from 15 June) registration for its annual conference.

This year it is on “Victorian Sustainability” and will be held at the University of Kent in Canterbury from 4 to 6 September 2014.
As their call for papers explained:

From emerging ideas about the perils of environmental degradation to the establishment of the National Trust, the concept of sustainability began to take on a new importance in the Victorian period that remains relevant in 21st-century modernity.

Full registration is £285 and student registration is £215.

This price includes access to the conference on all three days, lunch and refreshments on each day, 2 nights accommodation on Thursday and Friday, evening meal on Thursday 4th September and the conference dinner on Friday 5th September.

Visit the BAVS Annual Conference registration site to book your place.

TALK in Croydon: "Alfred Russel Wallace as Social Reformer" by Prof. David Stack on 26 June 2014

There is a talk being given in Croydon on 26 June 2014 by Prof. David Stack on the University of Reading on “Alfred Russel Wallace as Social Reformer”. The abstract reads:

South Croydonian Alfred Russel Wallace developed a theory of evolution but was beaten into print by Charles Darwin. As well as a leading scientist he was an active social reformer on issues like land nationalisation and anti-smallpox vaccination. Prof. Stack will discuss Wallace as social reformer.

Wallace lived in Croydon from March 1878 to 5 May 1881, first on Duppas Hill Lane and then St Peter’s Road.  During this period he developed his interest in Land Nationalisation and co-founded and was the inaugural president of the Land Nationalisation Society.
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TALK in Cardiff: "Wallace, Darwin and human evolution" by Chris Stringer

If anyone is in or around Cardiff on 10 June there is an interesting talk on “Wallace, Darwin and human evolution” taking place at Cardiff University in the Wallace Lecture theatre from 6.30pm.

I saw a paper delivered on much the same subject by Chris Stringer, who works at the Natural History Museum in London, at the Royal Society late last year and it was very interesting.


I am still waiting to get the time to finally start and finish his Homo Britannicus: The Incredible Story of Human Life in Britain which has been on my reading list for about a year. It was well received at the time winning the Best Archaeology Book Award and Kistler Book Award in 2008. Certainly, the opening chapters I have read were very interesting and well written. But I will have to reserve judgement on the bulk of the book for now.

If anyone does get to go–unfortunately I will be in London delivering a paper myself–please do tell me what he had to say and what you thought.

The lecture is free and more information is available on the Cardiff University events page.

SYMPOSIUM in Oxford: What is a Letter? An Interdisciplinary Approach, 2 to 4 July 2014

Registration for the interdisciplinary symposium on “What is a Letter?” is now open. It will be taking place at St Edmund’s Hall, University of Oxford between 2 and 4 July 2014. The blurb describes it as this:

The symposium ‘What is a letter? An interdisciplinary approach’ will bring together experts on letter writing from a diverse range of disciplines (including literary and cultural studies in a number of modern languages, linguistics, editorial studies, sociology, and history), countries (including Austria, Britain, and Germany), and institutions (including universities, museums, and libraries).

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TALK in Southampton: "Remoulding Mill: the posthumous reputation of John Stuart Mill" by Prof. David Stack

Later this week there will be a talk by Professor David Stack of the University of Reading–which I will be chairing–on the philosopher John Stuart Mill and his posthumous reputation.

David Stack has previously done a great deal of work on the interaction between British politics and ideas and science including–most strikingly for me–a work on the The First Darwinian Left: Socialism and Darwinism 1859-1914. This included an excellent chapter on Alfred Russel Wallace and the relationship between his evolutionism and socialism. Well worth a read.


It should be an excellent talk. It will be taking place at the University of Southampton’s Avenue Campus in building 65a, room 3057 on 14 May 2014 at 14:00.

The talk is organised by the University of Southampton’s Southampton Centre for Nineteenth-Century Research (SCNR).

*David also published a shorter article on “The First Darwinian Left: Radical and Socialist Responses to Darwin, 1859-1914″in the journal, History of Political Thought, vol. 21, no. 4 (2000), which includes a section on Wallace on pp. 690-694.

TALK in Southampton: "Alfred Russel Wallace, Explorer, Evolutionist and Campaigner: Seeking the Bubble Reputation" by Dr Peter Raby

On 4 December 2013 there is a talk on Alfred Russel Wallace by Dr Peter Raby who is Emeritus Fellow of Homerton College, Cambridge.

Peter will be talking about “Alfred Russel Wallace, Explorer, Evolutionist and Campaigner: Seeking the Bubble Reputation” as part of the “Victorian Reputations” seminar series organised by the new Southampton Centre for Nineteenth-century Research (SCNR) based at the University of Southampton. (more…)