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To complement the exhibition Endless Forms, The Fitzwilliam Museum released a series of audiovisual podcasts exploring Charles Darwin’s life, work and legacy.

You may also choose to subscribe to all Fitzwilliam Museum Podcasts through ITunes or any other media player using our RSS feed.

Darwin and the Arts? Introducing the ‘Endless Forms’ Podcast Series

Jane Munro, Co-Curator of the ‘Endless Forms: Charles Darwin, Natural Science and the Visual Arts’ at The Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge (16 June – 4 October 2009) introduces the new podcast series complementing this exhibition, which explores Darwin’s influence on 19th-century art.
Duration: 2:27
Published: Tue, 2 Jun 2009
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1. Darwin and the Ancient Earth: Dinosaurs and the ‘Deep Past’ in the 19th-Century Imagination

Why was the young Darwin’s fascination with geology so important for his later work? And why was prehistory so popular in early nineteenth-century Britain? A podcast with Professor Jim Secord, Director of the Darwin Correspondence Project and Professor of History and Philosophy of Science, to complement the exhibition ‘Endless Forms’ at The Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge (16 June – 4 October 2009).
Duration: 13:24
Published: Mon, 1 Jun 2009
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2. Darwin in Cambridge: from Christ’s College to the Beagle

Dr. John van Wyhe, Director of DarwinOnline, discusses Darwin’s student days at Christ’s College, Cambridge in the 1820s, and investigates the young naturalist’s developing eye for visual observation – as well as debunking a few persistent Darwin myths. Also featured: how Darwin’s rooms were restored and re-opened to the public.
Duration: 11:34
Published: Tues, 09 Jun 2009
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3. The Roots of a Theory: How Plants Specimens Led a Young Darwin to Discovery

Plant specimens may seem an unlikely starting point for Darwin’s theory of evolution by natural selection – but, as Professor John Parker investigates in this podcast, the Cambridge botanist John Stevens Henslow proved a crucial mentor for the young naturalist. Find out how Darwin shipped his collections from the Beagle voyage back to Cambridge, and how these almost 200 year-old specimens can today give us a snapshot of long-extinct botanical life.
Duration: 12:00
Published: 24 Jun 2009
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4. Uncovering our Origins: Monkeys, Apes and ‘Primitive Man’ – and how Darwin got it wrong

The Descent of Man would forever change the way we thought about ourselves and where we come from – but how accurate was Darwin in his ideas about human evolution? Professor Robert Foley, Director of the Leverhulme Centre for Human Evolutionary Studies explores how 19th-century society viewed ideas of ‘early man’, and reveals how far our knowledge has progressed since Darwin sketched his ‘evolutionary tree’.
Duration: 13:23
Published: 30 Jun 2009
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5. ‘Flaunting It’ – Sexual Selection and the Art of Courtship

What evolutionary purpose does beauty serve? And why does the idea of ‘female mate choice’ not hold true when it comes to primates and humans? From peacocks’ tails to the kinds of sexual signals we can’t even see, evolutionary biologist Professor Tim Clutton-Brock explores Darwin’s theory of sexual selection.
Duration: 12:10
Published: 2 Jul 2009
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The following audio-only podcasts are by contributors to the 2009 Cambridge Darwin Festival

6. A Tour of ‘Endless Forms’: With Sir Paul Nurse

Nobel Prize-winning biologist and Rockefeller University President Sir Paul Nurse takes a tour of the exhibition ‘Endless Forms’, introducing his personal highlights from a scientist’s perspective.
Duration: 19:55
Published: 6 Jul 2009
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7. Evolving Philosophy: With Professor Philip Kitcher

Can Darwinian ideas of evolution and adaptation really explain why we are how we are? Philosopher of science Professor Philip Kitcher explores the insights – and pitfalls – that Darwinism can bring to philosophical discussions about human nature and behaviour.
Duration: 12:43
Published: 7 Jul 2009
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8. Darwin, Hooker and the Venus Flytraps: With Sir Peter Crane

Sir Peter Crane, Former Director of the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew, talks about the fascinating friendship between Darwin and the botanist Joseph Hooker.
Duration: 12:34
Published: 8 Jul 2009
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9. Humankind – A Troubling Future? With Lord Robert May

Lord Robert May, Former President of the Royal Society and UK Government Chief Advisor for Science explores the significance of Darwin and his ‘unsolved problems’ for the issues facing populations today, and how the nineteenth-century preoccupation with ‘where we come from’ has given way to a focus on our imminent – and worrying – future as a planet.
Duration: 10:30
Published: 13 Jul 2009
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10. The Evolving Body: With Professor Randolph Nesse

Evolutionary physician Professor Randolph Nesse explores the idea of ‘Darwin’s eye’, and discusses what evolution means for our bodies, our emotions and our behaviour – as well as the disturbing implications of this view of the world.
Duration: 10:20
Published: 13 Jul 2009
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11. Darwin, Design and Christianity: With Professor John Brooke

John Brooke, former Andreas Idreos Professor of Science and Religion at Oxford University, gives his take on the exhibition ‘Endless Forms’, and discusses the implications of Darwinism for religious accounts of creation and design in the natural world.
Duration: 16:05
Published: 13 Jul 2009
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12. From ‘Missing Link Mania’ to 150 Years of Popular Darwinism in Europe

Why was the idea of ‘the missing link’ so wildly popular in the later nineteenth century? And why did Darwin’s public image differ so greatly across Europe? Dr. Peter Kjaergaard examines how Darwin’s ideas have been communicated and miscommunicated over the past 150 years, from print translations to the internet – and with very different intentions.
Duration: 15:28
Published: 13 Jul 2009
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13. The Predatory Ape: Sex, Simians and Society in Nineteenth-Century Europe

Dr. Gowan Dawson discusses the intriguing representation – and sexualisation – of apes in the nineteenth century, from pickled specimens on display to an eager public to images of marauding predators – and even lascivious lovers. (Please note: this podcast contains some sexually explicit images.)
Duration: 23:48
Published: 29 Jul 2009
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14. Evolving Images: Race and Popular Darwinism in Nineteenth-Century Photography

Professor Elizabeth Edwards explores how the emerging mass medium of photography engaged with popular Darwinian ideas in the nineteenth century, and how notions of race, ‘type’ and ‘hard science’ collided with troubling results.
Duration: 18:14
Published: 3 Aug 2009
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15. Between Apes and Angels: Representing the Darker Implications of Darwinism

Science writer Dr. Marek Kohn discusses the various artistic reactions to the bleaker side of evolutionary thinking, as presented in the exhibition ‘Endless Forms’. Is nature a nurturing Earth Mother or a pitiless force? Is mankind on the side of the apes or the angels?
Duration: 16:26
Published: 2 Sep 2009
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16. Struggle and Strikes: The ‘Survival of the Fittest’ in Art and Literature

Dame Gillian Beer discusses ideas of poverty, struggle and competition as explored in the painting ‘On Strike’ (1891), and examines how Darwinian notions of ‘the survival of the fittest’ also inspired female poets of the time.
Duration: 10:34
Published: 21 Sept 2009
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This unique series takes an in-depth look at Darwin’s huge impact on both science and art, from the nineteenth century to today. Each podcast will feature interviews with prominent scientists, historians, writers, Darwin specialists, art historians and curators from Cambridge University and beyond. The series will also include exclusive interviews from the Cambridge Darwin 2009 Festival, which draws together expert speakers from around the world in a celebration of Darwin.

Investigating topics as diverse as Darwin’s student life, images of our ancestors, monkeys and the missing link, nineteenth-century anthropological photography, Darwin and female sexuality, and modern-day creationism, these podcasts will illuminate crucial issues raised in Endless Forms, through a range of artworks from around the world.

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