Darwin’s Dinner Clubs of the 19th Century

Wednesday 27 November 6.00 - 8.00pm

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Macleay Museum, Gosper Lane,
The University of Sydney


Join the Macleay Museum’s senior curator, Jude Philp and Greg Murrie, PhD candidate in History, for an entertaining evening exploring 19th century eating habits.

Eating his way through (natural) history: Charles Darwin’s dinner club.

Charles Darwin went from being an exploratory eater in youth to a timid consumer in later life. Join the Macleay Museum’s senior curator, Jude Philp and Greg Murrie, PhD candidate in History, for an entertaining evening exploring 19th century eating habits—from the adventurous omnivore, Charles Darwin, to the mystical vegetarians, Anna Kingsford and Edward Maitland.

Dr Jude Philp has been the senior curator at the Macleay Museum for the past 8 years. Prior to this she worked in the anthropology divisions at the Australian Museum and the Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, University of Cambridge UK (where she also undertook her PhD).

Her research centres on 19th century anthropology and the material culture of Torres Strait Islanders and south-east coastal peoples of Papua New Guinea. Through the diverse Macleay collections Jude’s interests in nineteenth century science have expanded to take in an enormous variety of materials.

For the last three years her research has concentrated on the particularities of the commerce and practitioners of scientific taxidermy in Australia in the 19th century – exploring the insides and outsides of these extraordinary facsimiles of living animals. Jude is passionate about making museum collections accessible to cultural custodians and the interested public alike and to this end is involved in repatriation, digitisation and cross-disciplinary projects.

Victorian Vegetarians: Wowsers, Cranks, Progressives or Visionaries?

Greg Murrie, PhD Candidate. My PhD thesis explores the triangular relationship between animal rights’ thought and practice (specifically looking at the cases of vegetarianism and anti-vivisectionism), evolutionary theories (from Erasmus Darwin to Henri Bergson) and radical and alternative religious movements (Bible Christianity, Deism, theosophy, spiritualism) in Britain from the time of the French Revolution to the end of World War I. It is a truism that Darwinian thought reshaped conceptions of the relationship between the “human” and the “animal,” but to date comparatively little attention has been given to the role that earlier evolutionary theory (back to the time of the French Revolution) played in this transformation, and to the role of radical religious thinkers in this (Deists, for example) who were in the vanguard of evolutionary speculation. This amicable relationship between evolutionary theories and radical and alternative religious thought continued throughout the nineteenth century and beyond. In addition to the commonly held conception of the nineteenth-century conflict between science and religion, an alternative story can be told of the nineteenth-century British alliance between radical and alternative religious thought and evolutionary theories, and the involvement of both in the reshaping of human perceptions of our relationship with other animals.

Image of: Dasypus-novemcintus (Armadillo)