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Department of Philosophy

Forthcoming Research Seminars and Lectures

(For past seminars and lectures see here)

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14th February 2013: Joe Cain (London) - A Honeymoon Caked in Mud: George Gaylord Simpson and Anne Roe in the Field, 1938

(10 July 2012)

Weekly Research Seminar

This seminar will be held in room 005, 48/49 Old Elvet, Durham.  Refreshments will be served from 11am with the talk commencing  at 11.30am.

Title:  A Honeymoon Caked in Mud: George Gaylord Simpson and Anne Roe in the Field, 1938


In 1938-1939, George Gaylord Simpson -- palaeontologist and evolutionary theorist -- spent nine months travelling through Venezuela with his newlywed wife, Anne Roe, an academic psychologist. On the surface, this was a simple project aimed towards prospecting for fossil mammals.

Underneath, this was anything but normal. Despite poor palaeontological results, Simpson and Roe ranked this as one of the most valued travels of their lives. My talk explores why. It sets this Venezuelan expedition at the centre of a biographical study of identity, both personal and projected. Simpson undertook profound personal and public redefinition at precisely this time. He worked hard to break from some long-held associations and worked even harder to tie himself tightly into others.

The spatial and social imagery of Venezuela figured prominently in their efforts to construct themselves anew.

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