The Evolutionary Brotherhood: Manliness and Experimental Zoology in 19th-century America

Lunchtime Lectures
Wednesday, February 24, 2021
1:00 p.m.–1:45 p.m. EST (UTC -5)

This talk focuses on the history of graduate training in the life sciences and offers a new origin story for what it meant to be a man of science in the U.S. context. It demonstrates how 19th-century notions of manhood and evolution—borrowed from fraternal organizations, gentlemen’s clubs, and a cultural obsession with strenuous competition—became embedded into structures of graduate training. Drawing on methodological strategies from gender studies, Tonn will offer a history of science about men through the lens of their private lives and with attention to their experiences of affect, emotion, and domesticity (attributes traditionally associated with women and the private sphere) as a way of illuminating practices of manhood and daily life in and out of the laboratory.

About the Speaker

Jenna Tonn is a visiting assistant professor of science and technology studies at Boston College. Her research and teaching focus on the history of science, technology, and engineering with a particular focus on women and gender in STEM fields. She is currently working on a range of research projects related to the history of manhood and masculinity in the American life sciences, the history of radical feminist biology in the Cold War US, and the changing relationship between feminism and science. She is also starting a new project about engineering studies and social justice. Before arriving at Boston College, Jenna taught in the women, gender, and sexuality studies program at Harvard University. She earned her BA and MA from Stanford University and her PhD in history of science from Harvard University.

About the Series

Now combined with our Saturday Speaker Series, Lunchtime Lectures take a rigorous and entertaining approach to exploring topics for scholars and anyone interested in stories about the history of science. The talks help expand perceptions of the nature of science and how it’s done. This season focuses on the human lives behind biological research.