NYS WRITERS INSTITUTE
STEPHEN JAY GOULD
A leading evolutionary biologist
NYS Writers Institute, December 5, 1996
4:00 p.m.Reading | Recital Hall, Performing Arts Center
A leading evolutionary biologist, Stephen Jay Gould is admired by specialists and general interest readers alike for explaining difficult scientific theories in writing which is accessible, but never trivializing, and always entertaining. Gould is the author of 15 books, most recently, Full House: The Spread of Excellence from Plato to Darwin. Full House, which teaches the science of reading trends via a celebration of biodiversity, is his first single subject book since the New York Times bestseller Wonderful Life (1989). Gould's critical examination of IQ testing, The Mismeasure of Man (1980), won the National Book Critics Circle Award. Since 1972, Gould has written a monthly column for Natural History magazine, yielding seven collections of essays including the best-selling Dinosaur in a Haystack, published in January of this year. An earlier collection, The Panda's Thumb (1980), won the American Book Award.
Reflecting his belief that science is a "culturally embedded" discipline and a "creative human activity," Gould's writing knits together arcane and amusing details drawn from a wide range of sources. New York Newsday praised his "gift for metaphor for finding striking analogies that highlight the organizing principles behind Nature," and John Updike, said in The New Yorker, "Gould's prose pebbles make addictive reading." Gould's unique combination of technical brilliance and popular appeal moved one Washington Post reviewer to comment, "In a culture where 'intellectual' is often a term of reproach, Gould may be just the one to restore its good name." Gould is the Alexander Agzassiz Professor of zoology and professor of geology at Harvard, where he is also the curator for invertebrate paleontology at the university's Museum of Comparative Zoology.
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