History Department
History Department

Rodolfo John Alaniz

LecturerPh.D., History, 2014, University of California, San Diego

Lecturer; Ritter Memorial Fellow, National Academies Fellow in Science Education
Rodolfo John Alaniz



History of biology, Anglo-American Atlantic World


Rodolfo John Alaniz has recently completing a monograph on the history of evolutionary theories, called Darwin in the Deep: Marine Invertebrates, Evolutionary Methodologies, and the Emergence of Natural Selection. His book examines how deep-sea invertebrate specimens helped naturalists to adjudicate evolutionary questions during the nineteenth century. This project is part of a broader interest in the biological concepts and their effects on society. His other research projects include the examination of social identities (i.e., gender, race, class, and sexual orientation) in relation to evolutionary theories, the role of institutions in the creation of scientific knowledge, and the integration of humanistic skills into science education.


HIS 317L • History Of Science In The Us

38800 • Spring 2019
Meets TTH 3:30PM-5:00PM RLP 0.128

Course description

Political context affects the way we study the natural world in myriad ways. Scientists compete for state funding, and national policies establish legal boundaries for researchers. Science has equally influenced the development of state institutions and concepts of governance. This course explores the relationship between politics and science by tracing the way that each has changed in the United States from the colonial period to present. Lectures will explore the role that science played in the intellectual, cultural, religious, and political life of the United States. We will also trace the emergence of institutions that create scientific knowledge, with special attention to the relationships between science and the state. The course is accessible to students of all majors. No advanced scientific training is required, though a basic familiarity with U.S. history will be helpful.

Course objectives

By the end of this course, students should be able to:
1.    Narrate a basic history of US science from 1750 to the present.
2.    Use historical context to analyze the development of new scientific ideas.
3.    Explain coproduction and the relationship between politics and science.
4.    Provide alternatives to “Whig histories” of scientific development.
5.    Evaluate conflicting historical interpretations of the same event.
6.    Formulate intermediate-level history of science research questions.
Required texts

Numbers and Rosenberg, The Scientific Enterprise in America: Readings from ISIS (1996) Hughes, American Genesis: A Century of Invention and Technological Enthusiasm, 1870-
1970 (2004)
Larson, Summer for the Gods: The Scopes Trial and America's Continuing Debate Over Science and Religion (1997)

All other readings will be available on the course website. You are expected to print these sources and bring the readings to class or to take extensive notes and to bring those notes to class. All textbooks will be available on reserve at the library. Other sources are also available through Project Gutenberg and Archive in PDF, Kindle, etc., format for free. Follow the provided link to access the online sites.

5%    Participation
20%    Midterm Exam
20%    Final Exam
10%    Archival Document Analysis 15%    Context Paper
30%    Research Paper

HIS 362G • Darwin On Origin Of Species

39052 • Spring 2019
Meets TTH 11:00AM-12:30PM MEZ 1.210
GC (also listed as CTI 370)
Charles Darwin's On the Origin of Species introduced a radical concept during the nineteenth century, and his idea remains a pervasive part of our world today. Natural selection has become a dominant scientific idea, an element of sociopolitical thought, and a flash point for religious controversy. Our seminar explores Darwin's argument for evolution in its original context, through a close reading of On the Origin of Species, a partial reading of Descent of Man, and a few responses of from his contemporaries. We will examine this collection in the various ways that it can be–and has been–read, both as a historical document and as a literary statement about the natural world.   
Texts: Alfred Russel Wallace, “On The Tendency of Varieties to Depart Indefinitely from the Original Type” (1858). Charles Darwin, On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life (1859) & The Descent of Man, and Selection in Relation to Sex (1871). 
Grading: Participation and attendance 30%, midterm paper 30%, final paper 40%.

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