Co-Opting Colleagues: Appropriating Dobzhansky's 1936 Lectures at Columbia [Book Review]

Journal of the History of Biology 35 (2):207 - 219 (2002)
This paper clarifies the chronology surrounding the population geneticist Theodosius Dobzhansky's 1937 book, "Genetics and the Origin of Species." Most historians assume (a) Dobzhansky's book began as a series of 'Jesup lectures,' sponsored by the Department of Zoology at Columbia University in 1936, and (b) before these lectures were given, Dobzhansky knew he would produce a volume for the Columbia Biological Series (CBS). Archival evidence forces a rejection of both assumptions. Dobzhansky's 1936 Columbia lectures were not Jesup lectures. The book he intended to write from his lectures began as a stand-alone text in evolutionary genetics; the CBS had been defunct since 1910. In May 1937 -- seven months after Dobzhansky's Columbia lectures -- Leslie Dunn lobbied Columbia University to revive the CBS and the Jesup lecture series. He then quietly back dated, naming Dobzhansky a Jesup lecturer and co-opting his book manuscript as the first volume in the revived CBS. A detailed chronology of this 1936-1937 period is provided. This relocates the CBS and Jesup revivals within the narrow context of zoology at Columbia University. These helped Dunn and colleagues define cutting edges and define themselves as managers and promoters of those edges.
Keywords boundary objects  evolutionary synthesis  Columbia Biological Series   Genetics and the Origin of Species  Jesup lectures  Leslie Clarence Dunn  Milislav Demerec  Theodosius Dobzhansky
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Joe Cain (2009). Rethinking the Synthesis Period in Evolutionary Studies. Journal of the History of Biology 42 (4):621 - 648.
Richard G. Delisle (2011). What Was Really Synthesized During the Evolutionary Synthesis? A Historiographic Proposal. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 42 (1):50-59.

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