Sunday, December 9, 2012

Notes and Notices: 1840 letter on fingerprints/handprints and crime


The Independent has a story on an early Alienist/Criminal Anthropologist who attempted to introduce Scotland Yard to the idea of finger and handprints.  The letter is being auctioned.

"Vital clue ignored for 50 years
Letter shows Scotland Yard might have nailed Jack the Ripper on fingerprints, had it heeded a humble country surgeon.....
 ....Robert Blake Overton, a surgeon in the Norfolk village of Grimstone, wrote a three-page letter of advice after reading about the murder of Lord William Russell on the night of 5 May, 1840 in his Mayfair townhouse. The discovery of a 73-year-old politician in bed with his throat cut was a huge scandal in its day, sparking a major investigation by the Metropolitan Police, then only 10 years old. Having read lurid newspaper reports of bloody handprints on the sheets, Overton wrote to the victim's nephew, Lord John Russell, the future prime minister: "It is not generally known that every individual has a peculiar arrangement [on] the grain of the skin … I would strongly recommend the propriety of obtaining impressions from the fingers of the suspected individual and a comparison made with the marks on the sheets and pillows." He included examples of inky fingerprints to demonstrate his thesis."

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Music of the Week: Pere Ubu - Birdies (Live, 1981)

Music of the Week: Pere Ubu - Birdies (Live, 1981)
Filmed live in Los Angeles for "Urgh! A Music War" (1981).

Photo: An anti-poaching team guards a northern white rhino..

"'Rhino Wars': An anti-poaching team guards a northern white rhino, part of a 24-hour watch, at Ol Pejeta Conservancy in Kenya last July. The park is home to four of the world's remaining eight northern white rhinos." Daily Mail

Chomsky on AI, Language, and the History of Science

Finally, Chomsky being interviewed on science instead of politics.  
Philosophy of science is a very interesting field, but I don't think it really contributes to science, it learns from science. It tries to understand what the sciences do, why do they achieve things, what are the wrong paths, see if we can codify that and come to understand. What I think is valuable is the history of science. I think we learn a lot of things from the history of science that can be very valuable to the emerging sciences. Particularly when we realize that in say, the emerging cognitive sciences, we really are in a kind of pre-Galilean stage. We don't know what we're looking for anymore than Galileo did, and there's a lot to learn from that. So for example one striking fact about early science, not just Galileo, but the Galilean breakthrough, was the recognition that simple things are puzzling. -- Noam Chomsky interviewed by Yarden Katz
Yarden Katz
The Atlantic
November 1, 2012

Repost from Until Darwin blog: The Life Sciences, the Origins of Race,and the History of Sociology

[It is both fun and a curse to look back to graduate school when a project was in its early stages and see all the things one would changeAnd so, an early presentation of what would later become the manuscript for Until Darwin.]

The Life Sciences, the Origins of Race,and the History of Sociology
B. Ricardo Brown

Assistant Professor of Cultural Studies 
Department of Social Science & Cultural Studies Pratt Institute 
Brooklyn, New York 
Prepared for the Section on Marxist Sociology Roundtables, 
Annual Meeting of the American Sociological Association, Washington D.C.
August 2000

The relationship between sociology and Social Darwinism is often assumed but it is not very well understood. Many simply passed it off as a forgotten dead end. It was Parsons who said that “no one reads Spencer anymore”. And it is Parsons who explains this forgetting of Spencer as an evolutionary triumph of sociology.  Sociology did not emerge from Social Darwinism. Sociology and Social Darwinism share common origins in Spencer, political economy, discourses on government, and scientific disputes,especially the species question and the question that consumed American biology in the 19thcentury: monogenesis versus polygenesis.Given this range of origins, I was lead to question the notion of social Darwinism as it relates to Darwin’s intervention into the monogenesis/polygenesis debate. This debate is essential to understanding the scientific ideology of race.  Race was the central problem in the American approach to the species question.

The species question

Slavery was a driving force behind the debate between the mongenists and the polygenists, but the debate over the origins of humans and the classification of their diversity had been well underway in its modern form since the 18th century (which owed earlier descriptions and representations of the Plinian Races). It was not the Civil War that ended the monogenesis/polygenesis debate (as Stanton says in his The Leopard’s Spots, which remains one of the best works on the subject), but Darwin. Only the species question was to later reemerge from its repression with the work of Lombroso and Weissmann.  It is often stated that Darwin broke with Lamarck and Natural History, but the origin of species----modification by descent vs. creation vs. successive creation----was the question of Darwin’s time, and Lamarckism was not the subject of polemics from the pro-evolution side. (Darwin to some degree followed Lamarck, most notably in Darwin’s theory of pangenesis.)

You might in fact read Darwin’s Origins as an anti-slavery argument. He was opposed to slavery.(Admiral Fitzroy, an originator of modern meteorological instruments and Captain of the Beagle was a vocal proponent of slavery and the superiority of the European. Darwin, who was hired on not as the official naturalist, but rather the dinner and social companion of the Captain, noted in letter to his sister how unbearable it was to be endure these social gatherings with the Captain.  Natural and sexual selection as described in the Origin of Species and the Descent of Man destroyed the polygenic theory. At the same it demolished and replaced religious basis of monogenesis. The central enlightened argument for the abolition of slavery now had a scientific basis in the origin of the human species itself. Darwin is often characterized as apolitical, but politics has no limit in theory. He says in the
Descent of Man
...we may conclude that when the principle of evolution is generally accepted, as it surely will be before long, the dispute between the monogenists and the polygenists will die a silent and unobserved death (Descent of Man, 541)The biology appropriated by sociology was not Darwinism, although it shares certain terminology and concerns.

The discursive formation of sociology and biology was concerned with continuity: progress and degeneration. Darwinism, on the other hand, is concerned with discontinuity: species, extinction,isolation, and selection.  This makes me look at sociology in a new way. Instead of seeing the period before the crisis in Western Sociology as having been one where bad sociology appropriated bad science, I began to see it as a bio-social discourse more or less autonomous from the discourse of Darwinism. This lead me to return to the history of sociology and of race from a different perspective.  Darwin’s was an anti-slavery argument that destroyed the scientific and religious discourses on race. But the history of race appears in the context of a general assumption of bio-social progress and degeneration. It is degeneracy and not natural selection that supported Eugenics, and the linkage between the two sciences of society are profound. In particular, I want to focus on degeneration as it appears in sociology because it has not yet had a thorough treatment .  To understand the relationship of sociology, the life sciences and race in America, you have to trace through the formation and transformations of a scientific ideology that unites;

1) Discourses on nature and life (biology, medicine, Natural History, and ecology)

2) Discourses on the forces of social life, both the rational forces (those which are allied Enlightenment with the universals of Enlightenment Reason, History, Consciousness, and Reason) as well as the irrational forces (e.g., the instincts, the id [e.g., A. Wiessmann as opposed to Freud’s concept,] the mob, the mass) and also rationalized irrationality (e.g., the market and the social anarchy of capitalist production, psychological therapy)

3) Discourses on the stability of society, or inertia (e.g., Parsonian sociology, or more generally,bourgeois morality, the morality of community described by Nietzsche in the second essay of the Genealogy of Morals and by Marx in The Holy Family, the rhetorics of stability, progress, and degeneration).  If you understand how these work, then you can begin to understand the relation between the scientific discourses on race, the sociological ones (sociology in the broadest sense, as the definition of sociology narrows over time in proportion to the need to clean up its pantheon of fallen gods like Sumner, Spencer, Comte, Giddings, Cooley, Sorokin, Lombroso, etc. Feagin in his Presidential Address last night did exactly this, but of course it was only for the best of reasons, as his goal was to remember forgotten sociologists of the left) and together with the media’s re-presentation, we can discern more clearly how the history of this social relation weighs like a nightmare on the mind of the living today.

Before you can discuss race, you must first discuss science, for race does not precede science,rather, science first establishes race --- at least race as we understand it today. We must ask “What is the bio-social discourse on race and what is the origin of its authority?”rather than “What is race?” By implication, this raises all sorts of questions for Marxist theory that claims science as its authority. Perhaps this is why the race question (and the woman question too) were deferred for so long by the Parties. It is not that addressing them would have distracted us from our critique of a more fundamental problems, as was so often claimed, but because addressing them would have called into question the scientific authority on which orthodox marxism rested.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Music of the Week: Arthur Blythe Trio - Lenox Avenue Break Down

Arthur Blythe Trio - Lenox Avenue Break Down 
Chivas Jazz Festival - São Paulo - 2003

Arthur Blythe Trio:
Arthur Blythe : saxofone alto
Bob Stewart : tuba
Cecil Brooks : bateria

Erik Olin Wright on American Sociological Association's "Sociology in Wikipedia Initiative"

Erik Olin Wright announces American Sociological Association's "Sociology in Wikipedia Initiative" :
"A Call to Duty: ASA and the Wikipedia Initiative     Erik Olin Wright, American Sociological Association President
This autumn the ASA is launching a Sociology in Wikipedia Initiative. This project has two main purposes: first, to improve the sociology entries in Wikipedia by making it easier for sociologists to become involved in writing and editing them, and second, to facilitate professors giving Wikipedia-writing assignments to students in their courses....
 Wikipedia has become an important global public good. Since it is a reference source for sociologically relevant ideas and knowledge that is widely used by both the general public and students, it is important that the quality of sociology entries be as high as possible. This will only happen if sociologists themselves contribute to this public good. The basic goal of the new ASA Sociology in Wikipedia Initiative is to make it easier for sociologists to do this. (See the ASA homepage for more information at"
There will be many contested entries, I suspect.  Imagine what the entry on, e.g., Marx, will look like!  Perhaps sociological discourse will more, like that of many fields, from the seldom-read-but-essential-for-tenure journals to Wikipedia discussion forums, blogs, twitter and other public media.  Erik Olin Wright's initiative seems to mark this shift in the locations of the public(s) and audiences for sociological knowledge.

Erik Olin Wright's Wikipedia page:
And his more complete website:

Thursday, September 27, 2012

On the Successful Institutionalization and the Political Failure of Cultural Studies

Remarks on the Successful Institutionalization
and the Political Failure of Cultural Studies
B. Ricardo Brown
Associate Professor of Cultural Studies
 Department of Social Science and Cultural Studies
Pratt Institute
March 16, 2008

Session participants:
*Stanley Aronowitz – Sociology, Graduate Center, CUNY, “Against Schooling.”
*B. Ricardo Brown – Social Science and Cultural Studies, Pratt Institute.
*Michael Pelias – Philosophy, LIU, Brooklyn, “Doing Philosophy and confronting its consistent depoliticization in the academy - restoring historical materialism.” 
*Edwain Stokes – Long Island University, Brooklyn.
*Dominic Wetzel  Moderator

I want to mention two things that I will argue are fundamentally linked: the successful institutionalization of Cultural Studies and the meaning of public intellectual. In mentioning these, I want to argue that the role of public intellectual should be critically examined in light of the successful intervention of Cultural Studies in education.  

In some ways, Cultural Studies did not really exist until it was recognized as a field and accepted into the academy. It was the incorporation of Cultural Studies into already established, but often foundering, disciplines and fields such as English or the sociology of culture that had the effect of reinvigorating these areas, though not necessarily in a radical direction. Along with this incorporation of Cultural Studies came also the establishment of formal graduate and undergraduate programs authorized to grant degrees in Cultural Studies (variously named in keeping with the schools where such programs were installed).

Now Cultural Studies has no one genealogy. In fact, one might say that the scope of its genealogy is almost as vast as the breadth of areas where Cultural Studies has been accepted. But there are general tendencies that ---perhaps only in hindsight--- can be seen as coalescing in Cultural Studies in the United States.

The rise of Cultural Studies coincided with a general intensification of a politics of identity, debates surrounding multiculturalism, and the so-called postmodern condition. This coincidence no doubt made many on the left suspicious of Cultural Studies, despite the direct engagement with Marx and marxism that one finds in the works of critical theory and of the Birmingham School. Still, there can be little doubt that the debates over multiculturalism and the shift to identity and “new social movements” provided strong forces for the increasing coalescence of Cultural Studies and its intervention into education. This alliance was always a tenuous one, however, for in many respects it depended upon the public intellectual as an agent for change. 

The notion of public engagement, or of being a public intellectual was a part of Cultural Studies from the beginning. We can find it in Birmingham's emphasis on literacy and media representation, and in Adorno's radio lectures of the 1960s. In the United States, the link between the public intellectual and the political intervention of Cultural Studies was flatly stated by Cornel West when he called for the recognition of a new identity, the “culture worker.” This Culture Worker would serve, he said, as a “critical organic catalyst” and help to usher in “a new cultural politics of difference”. These “intellectual freedom fighters” ---as he called them--- would be public in the sense of being “attuned to the best of what the mainstream has to offer... yet maintain a grounding in affirming and enabling subcultures of criticism” (West, “New Cultural Politics of Difference”, in During, 266).

Of course, such a cultural worker never emerged, or if it did, it was in a rather enfeebled form. The study of culture as “life as it is lived” (Horkheimer), the breaking apart of things and identities has been countered by a privileging of particular abstractions, such as the “visual” or “visual culture” or “the body” or the media. The critical work has also been countered by a commitment to identities and movements, and to the politics of representation. This holds especially true when we think of Cultural Studies as an intervention into education and the production of knowledge. In deference to Stuart Hall's remark at being “completely dumbfounded” by recent American Cultural Studies, it is necessary to turn the critical theory that underpins Cultural Studies back upon itself. This is to ask if Cultural Studies can be salvaged from the collision of Critical theory, Birmingham's class (and later gender and race) critiques, and the American context of identity, multiculturalism, and a disorganized Left.

The notion of the public intellectual is always tied to a notion of public education and schooling.  Schooling is not just about disliking standards, but about creating publics (or a public). Education is obviously then about the State. Although civics might be out in curriculums, there is no need for civics classes when the entire educational apparatus is about training for work. The intervention against this notion is of lasting and significant importance, but our opposition to education as schooling for work can not lead us to overlook the importance education always plays in the maintenance of the social order.

It is said that Socrates “lived ever in the open,” walking the promenades in the morning, the market at midday, and spending the evenings wherever the most people were to be found. Anyone might listen, his student wrote, and “his conversation always concerned human things” What made Socrates a public intellectual was that the public was the state, the polis, and he was immersed in it. The public intellectual could not help being a educator, and the educator a public intellectual. 

Adorno said in his radio lectures that “The society that confronts people is nonetheless these very people” (Adorno, “Resignation,” Critical Models, 291). This confrontation makes the public intellectual a real problem, for in serving the public, the public intellectual also serves the state.

Obviously, our conception of the public intellectual as educator is not the same as the ancient one. In many ways we can agree with the view “that the public is born in myth and is sustained by superstition” (Dewey, The Public and its Problems, 38). But the image of Socrates going about in the open allows us to consider how the organization of a public is a problem of the state power: “to organize the public, it is necessary to equip the public with official representatives” and the “mark of the organization of the public ... is thus the existence of officials,” John Dewey wrote. The public intellectual, or “Critical Organic Catalyst,” easily becomes, on the one hand, a representative of a public, and on the other, a producer of knowledge that is heard by more than just its intended public.

We have to be clear that this knowledge serves not only the needs of the public to which the intellectual is committed, but also serves to produce knowledge that is crucial for the State's understanding of its' own composition and dynamics. So a field like Cultural Studies came in time to not only critique, but also to explain. It began to explain why we like TV, or certain fashions, or who we choose to have sex with, and what it all means. It seems almost unavoidable that on some level, critiques produce knowledge that is useful. That is, knowledge that ultimately props up groups and holds together identities instead of breaking things apart and making representations uninhabitable.

Commitment to produce useful knowledge marks the work of the public intellectual. In the light of the lessons learned from the institutionalization of Cultural Studies, it would seem that the public intellectual is a position that is as much compromised as it is committed. Because the intervention of Cultural Studies in the United States depended so much on the figure of the public intellectual, is it still possible to loosen these institution constraints, or should the project of Cultural Studies be abandoned altogether? This second choice would, of course, dissolve the notion of the public intellectual as “Critical Organic Catalyst, too. It may be romantic to believe that either alternative is possible. At least we can be assured that dispersed critiques and resistances are emerging all the time in everyday life, but it is not clear what role the public intellectual can play in the open ended critique of everyday life when the public it seeks to change is also the public it represents.

West's call for committed Culture Workers is a demand for conscious commitment, for criticism to have a particular intention and alignment with a public. However, when everyday life becomes the affirmation of the existing order, “What does it matter who is speaking?” (Beckett in Foucault, “What is an Author?”) as has been asked, “What is the point of the demand for commitment” in a society where everything is aligned and committed? (Williams, “Alignment and Commitment,” 199). With that, I will end by noting Raymond Williams comment in his essay “Alignment and Commitment,” which those of us who helped institutionalize Cultural Studies in the United States should have paid more attention to: “Social reality can amend, displace, or deform any merely intended practice, and within this (at times tragically, at times in ways which lead to cynicism and disgust) 'commitment' can function as little more than ideology.”

[Of course, I am saying all of this in public and to a public.]

lathe biosas

Originally published on 9/27/12, 9:52 PM Eastern Standard Time


Cultural Studies: Introductory Lectures

Honoring and Engaging Aronowitz: Remaking the Knowledge Factory (2011)

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Stanley Aronowitz and Cultural Studies

Honoring and Engaging Aronowitz: Remaking the Knowledge Factory
Left Forum
Pace University, New York City March 18 – 20, 2011
Description of Panels: 
Honoring and Engaging Aronowitz: Rethinking Labor and the Labor Movement  E326, O. Panel Session 7—Sunday 3:00 p.m. – 4:50 p.m.
Dr. B. Ricardo Brown—Pratt InstituteDr. Michelle Fine—CUNY Graduate CenterMichael Menser—Brooklyn College/CUNYMike Fabricant–Hunter/CUNY Graduate Center, PSC-CUNY
Panel Abstract: This panel will engage the work of Stanley Aronowitz withrespect to social and political movements and the current crisis in higher education. Particular focus will be on the idea of the university as aknowledge factory and the role of students, faculty, communities, andmovements to not only combat privatization and defunding but to makethe university a place where learning and research serve the public,cultivate solidarity, and make 21st century education democratic,inclusive, combative, and liberatory.
See also: Honoring and Engaging Aronowitz: Rethinking Labor and the Labor movement.  
Ed Ott—Murphy Institute for Worker EducationMichael Pelias—Long Island UniversityPenny Lewis—Murphy Institute for Worker EducationPhil Nicholson—Nassau Community CollegeWilliam DiFazio—St. Johns University, Situations Collective
Panel Abstract: An engagement and critical dialogue with the work of Stanley Aronowitzon the "labor question" and the failure of institutionalized labor today.

 ‘...keeping alive the critical analysis of the social world was and remains an important program’ 
Stanley Aronowitz and Cultural Studies

B. Ricardo Brown
Associate Professor of Cultural Studies
Department of Social Science & Cultural Studies, Pratt Institute

I came to CUNY to work with Stanley. I had dropped out of graduate school at Syracuse University ---a brief but inevitably important exploration of Cultural and Historical Geography. While working as alaw librarian, I read Stanley’s Crisis in Historical Materialism and was immediately taken by both his range of knowledge and his critical approach to knowledge and everyday life. So As others have said, I too led a rather strange life at CUNY, where I would work the reference desk until 4:15 and then leaveto walk the 10 minutes to the old Grad Center on 42nd Street. So within 15 minutes, I would go from the very belly of the Beast and into Stanley’s classroom. The contrast could not be greater, of course, both intellectually and ethically.

To speak on Stanley and Cultural Studies... Well, I’ll not speak about his many books and essays on thesubject, nor about his acknowledged place in the reception of Cultural Studies in the Americas. I think this is well known to us all and would take a lecture series more than a short talk! And as a member of a unionized faculty and of the grievance committee, I know his influence extends into other areas of higher education as well, but I’ll leave that for others to discuss. At Pratt, we are one big union in a small sense, with FT, PT and a special category for tenured adjuncts all under the same contract.

While I was a Graduate Student at CUNY, the name of the Center for Cultural Studies was changed tothe Center for Culture, Technology and Work. At the time I did not think that this was a very good idea. Cultural Studies was just consolidating its position within the academy, after all. What was reallyhappening was that it had become a career path as well. A reading of Stanley’s Roll Over Beethoven will make this transformation quite clear. It is, by the way, simply the best historical genealogy of Cultural Studies ever done, especially the first few chapters.

In his teaching, Stanley pointed many of us towards a way of thinking about Cultural Studies that is firmly rooted in Critical Theory and the critique of everyday life. This version of Cultural Studies, ashe says of the genealogy of Cultural Studies in his Roll over Beethoven, at its best, Cultural Studies sought to “transcend the boundaries of formal academic sites” to be “not anti-disciplinary [or ‘interdisciplinary’] but transdsciplinary” in our approach to the “authority of knowledge.”

But the name change alerts us to two things about Cultural Studies that Stanley taught his students...

1] Cultural Studies transgressed disciplinary boundaries. But also that because it had no disciplinary boundaries to defend, and it was rather defenseless and easily overwhelmed and colonized by the moreestablished, though crisis ridden, academic fields.

2] The second insight that Stanley gave us was that the Critique of Cultural Studies is not just anexternal one, but that it demands a self-critique as well. So, it was not that Stanley did not supply a definition of Cultural Studies, but that all such efforts can be contested. Certainly our work at Pratt did not contain enough self-criticism. Our efforts opened the work to administrative imperatives andconcerns, and thus we undermined our own work.

Suddenly “everyone does Cultural Studies” became a mantra. It was a phrase especially useful to those who preferred to ignore the political commitments of Cultural Studies in favor of its potential as a partof the cultural industry, with niche markets in the various traditional disciplines that embraced the idea that “everyone does Cultural Studies”. Cultural Studies was not undefined, but came to be defined inways that suited the needs of the marketplace

Two examples: The bookstore and the Program at Pratt
[Expand as an aside:Cultural Studies Develops a Market: Book stores in the 1990s, the realists as well as the creation of a market for CS. No longer marketing books as Sociology, Anthropology, or Literary Theory and Comp. Lit, but as Cultural Studies.]

It was at this same time that we established the Program in Cultural Studies at Pratt.And after three years, purely for reasons of marketing, the name of the program was changed to Critical and Visual Studies. Apparently at the time, according to Admissions, College students knew about CS, but not High Schoolers.

Pratt’s program, which ironically I helped create and have recently begun to again direct, is a microcosm of the American reception or construction of Cultural Studies, and a good example of thereasons why many have walked away from the contest over its meaning, since its meaning is nowrestricted to its deployment by various traditional fields. I notice that Stanley rarely uses the phrase inhis writings over the past decade, just as I have noticed that many of his students no longer embrace the term, either.

What has drawn us away from Cultural Studies are the very interests that once drew us to it:an Encounter with Materialism, the legacy of Marx, and the Critical Theory of society and everyday life.

Cultural Studies had as much to do with an approach to the material as it did to any group of theories. In many ways, our near abandonment of the term Cultural Studies to the markets expresses how we have to constantly reorient our approaches to our studies, teaching, and everyday lives.

As he wrote in Left Turn: After “...the abandonment of the concrete utopia... keeping alive the critical analysis of the social world was and remains an important program.” (Left Turn: 53)

So, the name change at CUNY was a Sign that I missed. A reminder that critique is self-referential--something not all of us appreciated at the time. We might have read Stanley a little closer when hewrote the “most profound stake in the crisis of cultural authority... is the authority of knowledge. Whohas the right to determine criteria of validity? Who may speak truth to power? What is theresponsibility of intellectuals with respect to their own knowledge?” (Roll Over Beethoven: 9) Once we had the right and authority, we assumed that it was in the hands of “good people.” Thus, the critique that we speak of is self-referential both intellectually and in terms of our self: it is about how one lives in and responds to what Horkheimer called the “vicissitudes of everyday life” This is, after all what education is about, developing the means to understand the relations of our many selves to the world.

From where I now sit amid the workings of the Knowledge Factory Stanley’s intervention as a teacher and major figure in Cultural Studies are, broadly speaking:

A. That knowledge belongs to everyone but is denied to most and so we must constantly find way to subvert the authorities of knowledge and in so doing subvert the authority of the dominant ideologies.

B. That a new educational intervention is better than trying to defend the boundaries of an old one, even one that once held such promise.

C. And finally, understanding our teaching as a critical political intervention is something we got fromAronowitz, and further that our studies and work should express critical interventions on multiplelevels. We critique the present because it is what we know while we accumulate knowledge for thosewho might have a different future.

Thanks, Stanley!

See also:
Stanley Aronowitz --- On the Origins of Cultural Studies (1998)

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Darwin, Gray, and Duppa on the Passion Flower

Being curious about this neighborhood flower, I looked up some references to it in Duppa, Darwin, and Asa Gray:

 Passiflora incarnata from Fort Tryon Park, New York City

 PASSION-Flower. Of this genus there are no less than thirty-seven different species. This is the common blue Passion- flower, which in a few years may be trained up to more than forty feet high, and the stalks grow to a very considerable size. It grows naturally in Brazil, but is hardy enough to thrive here in the open air, and is now become the most common species in England.
This beautiful tribe of plans was unknown until the discovery of America, and the different species are chiefly found in South America and the islands. It has its name from a fanciful analogy of the different parts of the flower to the Passion of Christ. The Jesuits, who went as missionaries to South America, though they discovered in the three pistilla the representation of the three nails with which our Saviour was nailed to the Cross; the five stamina the five wounds; and the radiant purple Nectary the representation of the rays that might be supposed to have surrounded his head when he expired on the Cross. Duppa, Richard.  1809.  Elements of the Science of Botany, as established by Linnaeus with examples to illustrate the classes and orders of his system, Vol. 1.  London: T. Bensley, Bolt Court for J. Murray, Fleet Street: 27-28.

Order 44. PASSIFLORACEAE . (Passion-Flower Family.)

Herbs or woody plants, climbing by tendrils, with perfect flowers, 5 monadelphous stamens, and a stalked 1-celled ovary free from the calyx, throat 3 or 4 parietal placenta, and as many club-shaped styles; — represented by the typical genus

1. PASSIFLORA, L. Passion-Flower.

Calyx of 5 sepals united at the base into a short cup, imbricated in the bud, usually colored like the petals, at least within; the throat crowned with a double or triple fringe. Petals 5, on the throat of the calyx. Stamens 5: filaments united in a tube which sheathes the long stalk of the ovary, separate above: anthers large, fixed by the middle. Berry (often edible) many-seeded; the anatropous albuminous seeds invested by a pulpy covering. Seed-coat brittle, grooved. — Leaves alternate, generally palmately lobed, with stipules. Peduncles axillary, jointed. Ours are perennial herbs. (Name, from passio, passion, and flos, a flower, given by the early missionaries in South America to these blossoms, in which they fancied a representation of the implements of the crucifixion.)
 1. P. lutea, L. Smooth, slender; leaves obtusely 3-lobed at the summit, the lobes entire; petioles glandless; flowers greenish-yellow (1' broad). — Damp thickets, S. Penn. to Ill. and southward. July -Sept. — Fruit 1/2' in diameter.
 2. P. incarnata, L. Nearly smooth ; leaves 3-cleft ; the lobes serrate ; petiole bearing 2 glands; flower large (2' broad), nearly white, with a tripil purple and flesh-colored crown; involucre 3-leavcd. — Dry soil, Virginia, Kentucky, and southward. May - July. — Fruit of the size of a hen's egg, oval, called Maypops. Asa Gray,  Manual of the botany of the northern United States : including the district east of the Mississippi and north of North Carolina and Tennessee, arranged according to the natural system. New York : Ivison, Phinney, Blakeman, 1867, p. 185-186.    
Passiflora incarnata from Fort Tryon Park, New York City
 (6) Figs, flower. — Passion Flower, (as it is required to impregnate it artificially.) — Asclepias — Flowers not seeding — Put pot of boiled earth on top of House Aristolochia, plant wh require insects to impregnate it
de Beer, Gavin ed. 1960. Darwin's notebooks on transmutation of species. Part III. Third notebook [D] (July 15 to October 2nd 1838). Bulletin of the British Museum (Natural History). Historical Series 2 (4) (July):119-150.
NOTE: See David Kohn in Barrett, Paul H., Gautrey, Peter J., Herbert, Sandra, Kohn, David, Smith, Sydney eds. 1987. Charles Darwin's notebooks, 1836-1844 : Geology, transmutation of species, metaphysical enquiries. British Museum (Natural History); Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Darwin also mentions the Passion flower in his discussion on the fertility of hybrids in the Origin of Species:
Now let us turn to the results arrived at by the third most experienced hybridiser, namely, the Hon. and
[page] 250 HYBRIDISM. CHAP. VIII.Rev. W. Herbert. He is as emphatic in his conclusion that some hybrids are perfectly fertile—as fertile as the pure parent-species—as are Kölreuter and Gärtner that some degree of sterility between distinct species is a universal law of nature. He experimentised on some of the very same species as did Gärtner. The difference in their results may, I think, be in part accounted for by Herbert's great horticultural skill, and by his having hothouses at his command. Of his many important statements I will here give only a single one as an example, namely, that "every ovule in a pod of Crinum capense fertilised by C. revolutum produced a plant, which (he says) I never saw to occur in a case of its natural fecundation." So that we here have perfect, or even more than commonly perfect, fertility in a first cross between two distinct
few days perished entirely, whereas the pod impregnated by the pollen of the hybrid made vigorous growth and rapid progress to maturity, and bore good seed, which vegetated freely." In a letter to me, in 1839, Mr. Herbert told me that he had then tried the experiment during five years, and he continued to try it during several subsequent years, and always with the same result. This result has, also, been confirmed by other observers in the case of Hippeastrum with its sub-genera, and in the case of some other genera, as Lobelia, Passiflora and Verbascum. Although the plants in these experiments appeared perfectly healthy, and although both the ovules and pollen of the same flower were perfectly good with respect to other species, yet as they were functionally imperfect in their mutual self-action, we must infer that the plants were in an unnatural state. Nevertheless these facts show on what slight and mysterious causes the lesser or greater fertility of species when crossed, in comparison with the same species when self-fertilised, sometimes depends.
Darwin, C. R. 1859. On the origin of species by means of natural selection, or the preservation of favoured races in the struggle for life. London: John Murray. 1st edition, 1st issue.
And in his work on the movement of plants: 

By tendrils I mean filamentary organs, sensitive to contact and used exclusively for climbing. By this definition, spines or hooks and rootlets, all of which are used for climbing, are excluded. True tendrils are formed by the modification of leaves with their petioles, of flower-peduncles, perhaps also of branches and stipules. Mohl, who includes with true tendrils various organs having a similar external appearance, classes them according to their homological nature, as being modified leaves, flower-peduncles, &c. This would be an excellent scheme; but I observe that botanists, who are capable of judging, are by no means unanimous on the nature of certain tendrils. Consequently I will describe tendril-bearing plants by natural families, following Lindley, and this will in most, or in all, cases keep those of the same homo-
[page] 49
logical nature together; but I shall treat of each family, one after the other, according to convenience*. The species to be described belong to ten families, and will be given in the following order:—Bignoniaceæ, Polemoniaceæ, Leguminosæ, Compositæ, Smilaceæ, Fumariaceæ, 
Darwin, C. R. 1865. On the movements and habits of climbing plants. London: Longman, Green, Longman, Roberts & Green and Williams & Norgate.  See also Darwin, C. R. 1865. On the movements and habits of climbing plants. [Read 2 February] Journal of the Linnean Society of London (Botany) 9: 1-118, 13 text figures.
Passiflora incarnata from Fort Tryon Park, New York City