Cover: Sparks of Life: Darwinism and the Victorian Debates over Spontaneous Generation, from Harvard University PressCover: Sparks of Life in PAPERBACK

Sparks of Life

Darwinism and the Victorian Debates over Spontaneous Generation

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Product Details


$37.00 • £29.95 • €33.50

ISBN 9780674009998

Publication Date: 10/15/2002


304 pages

6-1/8 x 9-1/4 inches

2 halftones, 2 line illustrations


  • Introduction
    • 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, Pleomorphic Theories, 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
    • Conclusions
  • Epilogue, 1880 through 1915
  • Glossary
  • Timeline
  • Cast of Characters
  • Notes
  • Sources
  • Index

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