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Sympathetic Science: Charles Darwin, Joseph Hooker, and the Passions of Victorian Naturalists

Jim Endersby
Victorian Studies
Vol. 51, No. 2, Special Issue: Darwin and the Evolution of Victorian Studies (Winter, 2009), pp. 299-320
Published by: Indiana University Press
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/20537406
Page Count: 22
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Sympathetic Science: Charles Darwin, Joseph Hooker, and the Passions of Victorian Naturalists
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Abstract

This essay examines the complex tangle of emotional and scientific attachments that linked Darwin and botanist Joseph Dalton Hooker. Analyzing their roles as husbands, fathers, and novel readers demonstrates that possessing and expressing sympathy was as important for Victorian naturalists as it was for Victorian husbands. Sympathy was a scientific skill that Victorian naturalists regarded as necessary to fully understand the living world; although sympathy became increasingly gendered as feminine over the course of the century, its importance to male naturalists requires us to rethink the ways gender roles were negotiated in Victorian Britain. Botany was, for men like Darwin and Hooker, an acceptably masculine pursuit that nevertheless allowed--and even required--them to be sensitive and sympathetic.

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