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The University of Southampton
EnglishPart of Humanities

Cunning, killer orchids Seminar

Southampton Centre for Nineteenth-Century Research
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16:00 - 18:00
23 November 2016
Lecture Theatre B, Avenue Campus, SO17 1BF

For more information regarding this seminar, please email Dr Mary Hammond at .

Event details

At the end of the nineteenth century, orchids were among the most desirable, collectable and exotic flowers to grace British greenhouses, but in fiction they were to become increasingly deadly, sexy, mobile and – most noticeably – cunning over the next few decades. To understand why, we need to trace the “killer orchid” genre back, via popularisations of Darwin’s botany, to a mystery that Darwin was unable to solve; why some orchids mimic insects. The solution was only found in the twentieth century, and this paper will argue that the fictitious orchids in works by H.G. Wells and others formed a crucial link in this discovery.

Speaker information

Dr Jim Endersby, University of Sussex. I am a specialist in the history of science, with particular interest in the impact of empire on nineteenth-century Britain, science and literature, and in the reception and influence of Darwinism. I am interested in hearing from prospective postgraduate students with interests in any area of Victorian British history, particularly the history of the sciences, or in the early/mid-twentieth century life sciences, particularly their social and cultural impacts.

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