Heavenly Genes: Eugenic Motherhood and the Rebirth of a Nation

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Few theories have had as large an impact on western thought as Darwin's theory of evolution. Darwin's evolutionary theory of descent through modification laid the foundation for eugenics, replacing paradise with primordial slime. Within this scientific framework, what was hitherto seen as social, moral, or political problems were comprehended as biological problems by the end of the ninetheenth century. My project explores the concept of "civic motherhood" advocated by New Women writers as they used evolutionary theory to grant scientific authority to their polemics. This paper explores the impact of Darwinian theory on late-Victorian culture, and gestures towards an examination of how we continue to grapple with evolutionary theory and biology as way of understanding ourselves in terms of gender, race, class, and nationality.

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Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.

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