Darwin and Theories of Aesthetics and Cultural History is a significant contribution to the fields of theory, Darwin studies, and cultural history. This collection of eight essays is the first volume to address, from the point of view of art and literary historians, Darwin's intersections with aesthetic theories and cultural histories from the eighteenth century to the present day. Among the philosophers of art influenced by Darwinian evolution and considered in this collection are Alois Riegl, Ruskin, and Aby Warburg. This stimulating collection ranges in content from essays on the influence of eighteenth-century aesthetic theory on Darwin and nineteenth-century debates circulating around beauty to the study of evolutionary models in contemporary art.
Darwin and Theories of Aesthetics and Cultural History succeeds in raising issues with which its readers will want to continue grappling. -- Dana Carluccio
Contents: Preface; Introduction, Barbara Larson; Darwin, Burke, and the biological sublime, Barbara Larson; Why is the peacock's tail so beautiful?, Laurence Shafe; Art's "contest with nature": Darwin, Haeckel, and the scientific art history of Alois Riegl, Marsha Morton; Cultural selection and the shape of time, Larry Silver; The evolution of culture or the cultural history of the evolutionary concept: epistemological problems at the interface between the two cultures, Sigrid Weigel; Communicating vessels; on the development of a theory of representation in Darwin and Warburg, Sabine Flach; On mimicry in Darwin and surrealism, Jan Söffner; Contemporary art and the aesthetics of natural selection, Ellen K. Levy; Index.