Image by Ivana Cajina

Where We Live:

History, Nature and Culture

JIm Costa.Author photo.Ox07.JPG

Charles Darwin's Surprising Carolina Connections
with Dr. James Costa
May 16, 2022 at 6:30p.m.

On Monday, May 16, Dr. James Costa will give a talk on Charles Darwin's Surprising Carolina Connections at the historic Cowee School, as part of the lecture series Where We Live: History, Nature, and Culture


Perhaps no region of the US was more important to Charles Darwin's thinking than the southeast, notably the southern Appalachians, as he avidly read about the geology, flora, and fauna of western North Carolina and upstate South Carolina.  Yet the Darwin connection with our region runs deeper still, originating in Cowee, in the heart of what is now Macon County, home to a form of kaolin prized by Darwin's maternal grandfather Josiah Wedgwood in the mid-18th century.  This talk will explore several Carolina connections of Charles Darwin and his family along with their social and political context, from the contribution of Cowee kaolin in stopping the trans-Atlantic slave trade (and making the Wedgwood fortune) to the revolutionary politics Darwin's of other grandfather, Erasmus, and the equally inventive and revolutionary mind of their grandson, Charles Darwin, and some of the ways that the natural history of our region helped shape the development of his evolutionary ideas.



Dr. Costa is Executive Director of Highlands Biological Station and Professor of Biology at Western Carolina University, where he teaches biogeography and evolution. Jim's entomological research focuses on group-living insects, and as a historian of science he has a special interest in Darwin, Wallace, and the history of evolutionary thinking.

The program will take place at Cowee School Arts and Heritage Center at 51 Cowee School Drive in Franklin. The lecture series is designed to give people an opportunity to learn more about our local area from many different angles, and to enjoy a pleasant, informative evening together. Come join us!