Erika Lorraine Milam
Erika Lorraine Milam specializes in the history of the modern life sciences, especially evolutionary theory. Her research explores how scientists have used animals as models for understanding human behavior, from sex to aggression. She graduated with a biology major from Carleton College and subsequently earned an M.S. in Biology (Ecology, Evolution, and Organismal Biology) from the University of Michigan, where she developed an interest in the history of science. She then completed her Ph.D. at the University of Wisconsin in the History of Science. After a postdoctoral fellowship at the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science, in Berlin, Germany, she taught at the University of Maryland for several years before joining the Princeton History Department in 2012. She is author of the forthcoming Creatures of Cain: The Hunt for Human Nature in Cold War America (Princeton University Press), and Looking for a Few Good Males: Female Choice in Evolutionary Biology (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2010). With Robert A. Nye, she co-edited Scientific Masculinities (Osiris, Vol. 30, 2015).
Professor Milam was recently interviewed about her research and teaching: link.
Creatures of Cain: The Hunt for Human Nature in Cold War America (Princeton University Press, forthcoming December 2018).
Creatures of Cain addresses how and why zoological and primatological research on animal behavior came to compete with anthropological studies of human cultures as a source of reliable information about human nature in the 1960s and '70s. Constructed as a series of chronologically parallel stories, this project explores the gendered landscape in which conversations about human nature took place.
Inspired by the upcoming 150th anniversary of the 1871 publication of Descent of Man and Selection in Relation to Sex, we hosted an international workshop at Princeton University in February 2018 revisiting the development and legacy of Charles Darwin's ideas about human evolution. More information can be found on the workshop website: descentofdarwin.princeton.edu. We are revising the essays for publication.
Given the ubiquitous presence of men as scientists, engineers, and physicians throughout history, this volume asks what are the consequences of changing the kinds of questions we ask about the scientific enterprise from, for example, “why did scientists think X?” to “why did male scientists think X”? Or, more exactly, what does it add to our understanding of science if we factor in the masculine social and cultural perspectives of time and place? The tools for understanding complex gender dynamics and the importance of gender in the everyday lived experiences of scientists and engineers have been amply demonstrated by the substantial literature on women in science and on gender studies of science. Our challenge was to bring to light the ways that scientific masculinities have operated over time, and within different cultures, without re-enacting history by excluding women or femininity from the story. Published as Osiris, Vol. 30 (2015).
How do we make the future? Historians of science, technology, and medicine are especially well-situated to explore how futures are made in a world of scientific and technological innovation. The project began with a workshop in February 2015, where participants considered the ways that science fiction and speculative nonfiction overlap to provide readers of both with visions of the future that are often surprising in their sympathetic coherence. Each author also contributed to the project's website: www.histscifi.com.
Looking for a Few Good Males (2010)
Looking for a Few Good Males: Female Choice in Evolutionary Biology (Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2010), explores the theory of sexual selection and the connections between biological investigations of reproductive and courtship behavior in animals and humans, from Charles Darwin in the mid-19th century to sociobiology in the 1970s.
Professor Milam teaches courses in the history of science, including the history of evolution, the history of environmentalism and ecology, gender and science, and science fiction.
"The Ascent of Man and the Politics of Humanity's Evolutionary Future," Endeavour 40/4 (2016): 225-237. [link]
“Science of the Sexy Beast: Biological Masculinities and the Playboy Lifestyle,” in Groovy Science: The Counterculture’s Embrace of Science in the Long 1970s, ed. David Kaiser and W. Patrick McCray (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2016), 270-302. [link]
with Robert A. Nye, "An Introduction to Scientific Masculinities," Osiris 30 (2015): 1-14. [link]
"Men in Groups: Anthropology and Aggression, 1965-84," Osiris 30 (2015): 66-88. [link]
"A Field Study of Con Games," in [Focus Section] "The Peculiar Persistence of the Naturalistic Fallacy," ed. Erika Lorraine Milam, Isis 105/3 (2014): 564-568, 596-605. [link]
"Dunking the Tarzanists: Elaine Morgan and the Aquatic Ape Theory," in Outsider Scientists: Routes to Innovation in Biology, ed. Oren Harman and Michael R. Dietrich (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2013), 223-247. [link]
"Public Science of the Savage Mind: Contesting Cultural Anthropology in the Cold War Classroom," Journal for the History of the Behavioral Sciences 49/3 (2013): 306-330. [link]
“Making Males Aggressive and Females Coy: Gender Across the Animal-Human Boundary,” Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society 37/4 (2012): 935-959. [link]
“The Equally Wonderful Field: Ernst Mayr and Organismic Biology,” Historical Studies in the Natural Sciences 40/3 (2010): 279-317. [link]
“Beauty and the Beast: Conceptualizing Sex in Evolutionary Narratives,” in Biology and Ideology: From Descartes to Dawkins, ed. Denis Alexander and Ronald Numbers (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2010): 276-301. [link]
"'The Experimental Animal From the Naturalist's Point of View': Behavior and Evolution at the AMNH, 1928-1954," Transactions of the American Philosophical Society 99/1 (2009): 157-178. [link]