Thesis ID: CBB814213328

"Like Produces Like": Popular Conceptions of Heredity in Canada, 1860-1900 (2017)


This dissertation examines popular conceptions of heredity in Canada between 1860-1900. I focus on three bodies of literature in which ideas about heredity were explored, discussed, and negotiated: farmers’ and breeders’ periodicals, written by and for farmers and animal breeders; medical advice manuals aimed at wives and mothers; and the publications of the prominent reform organization, the Woman’s Christian Temperance Union (WCTU). Specifically, I ask: how did these three groups understand the nature of heredity, how did this affect the ways they interacted with the world, and where did these ideas about heredity come from? In each case, I examine the particular notions of heredity they embraced, their sources, and how such notions were forged and operationalized to make sense of and order both the natural and the social worlds. I show how popular notions of heredity interacted with the interests and aspirations of the people who engaged with them. By examining the contours and sources of popular ideas about heredity, my research also helps untangle and make clear aspects of the complex circulation of scientific knowledge in late 19th century Canadian society. This dissertation demonstrate the role of these three distinct bodies of literature in the circulation of knowledge about heredity, and in the active discussion and negotiation about its broader social meanings. These media, which were themselves interconnected and mutually influential, exposed their readers to a range of sources and ways of knowing about heredity. They encouraged Canadians to think about the nature of heredity and its relevance to the health of their bodies and minds, their families, and the body politic.

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Authors & Contributors
Dechêne, Louise
Egli, Rebecca
Turbil, Cristiano
Lidwell-Durnin, John
Matz, Brendan A.
Warren, Louis S.
Journal of the History of Biology
Isis: International Review Devoted to the History of Science and Its Cultural Influences
VIET: Voprosy Istorii Estestvoznaniia i Tekhniki
Scientia Canadensis: Journal of the History of Canadian Science, Technology, and Medicine
History of Science
Canadian Historical Review
McGill-Queen's University Press
Makadam Förlag
University of Ottawa (Canada)
University of California, Davis
University of Pittsburgh Press
Diffusion of innovation; diffusion of knowledge; diffusion of technology
Agricultural technology
Science and society
Knight, Thomas Andrew
Huxley, Thomas Henry
Chambers, Robert
Butler, Samuel
Burnham, John Chynoweth
Booth, William
Time Periods
19th century
20th century, early
20th century
18th century
21st century
Great Britain
United States
New Brunswick (Canada)
Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences
United States Department of Agriculture (USDA)
Canadian Red Cross

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