The Art of Evolution: Charles Darwin and Visual Cultures
2 to 4 July 2009
Kenneth Clark Lecture Theatre, The Courtauld Institute of Art, Somerset House, Strand, London
In the most extensive conference to ever take place at The Courtauld Institute of Art, some thirty leading international scholars gather in early July to address the least explored aspect of “the Darwin Industry” – evolution and visual culture. Timed to celebrate the Darwin bicentennial and taking place on the eve of the Darwin Cambridge Festival, The Art of Evolution brings the most recent scholarship on visual culture and all things Darwin to bear upon the dissemination of the ideas of the person who is arguably Britain’s most celebrated scientist.
Increasingly, Darwin’s role in the slavery debate, varying political agendas, and mating practices (including eugenics and queer culture studies) has come into focus among scholars. Highly original papers cross through historical territory that brings the specifics of Darwin’s influence to light including his relationship with eugenist founder and first cousin Francis Galton, his political appropriation by museums with government agendas in mind and, on the lighter side, mating games and the Hollywood musical. Contemporary issues such as Darwin’s legacy to the body and stem-cell life, xenotransplantation and the breaching of human/animal boundaries will be explored.
The conference concludes with a provocative new play by Justin Fleming, Origin, directed by Wayne Harrison. The play brings Darwin’s arguments on slavery to life, but also recalls Stalin’s “fittest” possible war machine: his vision of an ape fertilized with human sperm and a human fertilized with ape sperm which he proudly christened a “humanzee.”
The book, The Art of Evolution: Darwin, Darwinism and Visual Culture, co-edited by Barbara Larson and Fae Brauer, will be launched at this conference.
To book a place:
Visit www.courtauld.ac.uk/researchforum/conferences/darwin <http://www.courtauld.ac.uk/researchforum/conferences/darwin> and send the completed form with a cheque made payable to ‘Courtauld Institute of Art’ to:
Research Forum Events Co-ordinator
The Courtauld Institute of Art Research Forum
Somerset House, Strand, London WC2R 0RN
Full: £70; Students/concessions: £30
For credit card bookings, please call +44 (0)20 7848 2785/2909.