Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Michaelmas Term 2009

This term we shall focus on the theme of analogy in literature and science, reading and discussing analyses of simile, metaphor, and model-making. We meet fortnightly on Monday evenings, from 7.30-9pm, in a new venue: room MAB 119 at Homerton College. Readings are detailed below, and photocopied packs will be made available from the Group boxfile in the Whipple Library and in Homerton College Library. Organised by Daniel Friesner (Science Museum) and Melanie Keene (Homerton College). For updates, further information and relevant news listings please see this blog; email Melanie to join our dedicated mailing list. All welcome!

19th October

Pierre Duhem, The Aim and Structure of Physical Theory, trans. Philip P. Wiener (Princeton University Press, 1954), chapter IV (pp. 55-104), "Abstract theories and mechanical models".

2nd November

Dedre Gentner, "Are Scientific Analogies Metaphors?" in D. Miall (ed.), Metaphor: Problems and perspectives, pp. 106-132 (Brighton, Sussex: Harvester Press, 1982). Available online here.

16th November

Mary Ellen Pitts, "Reflective Scientists and the Critique of Mechanistic Metaphor" in M. W. McRae (ed.), The Literature of Science: Perspectives on Popular Scientific Writing, pp. 249-272 (Athens and London: University of Georgia Press, 1993).

30th November

Simon Armitage, "Modelling the Universe: Poetry, Science, and the Art of Metaphor" in Robert Crawford (ed.) Contemporary Poetry and Contemporary Science, pp. 110-122 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2006).

UTTER! Evolution

'Utter!' Spoken Word presents our first show in our new home:

'UTTER!' Evolution - A natural selection of the very fittest poets and
comics to celebrate Darwin's 200th anniversary year, including: Robin
Ince, Niall O'Sullivan, Baba Brinkman, Kelley Swain, Richard Tyrone
Jones, & the AjarMic contest.

Last one 'attending' is a Creationist!

Thursday, October 15, 2009, 7:30pm - 10:30pm
£5 before 7.30pm, £10 after so get there early!
The Cross Kings, 126 York Way, east side of King's Cross
(the nearest tube & station)

Facebook event:
Contact: 07912539098 /

Robin Ince
You've seen him at Latitude, supporting Ricky Gervais, or maybe on
Mock the Week, Skins, doing FOUR shows a day at the 2009 Edinburgh
Fringe, or his live DVD. He's won a Time Out Award for Outstanding
Achievement in Comedy and toured his brilliant night 'Book Club' night
around the UK. Militant bleeding heart liberal and botherer of
God-botherers, Robin's erudite performances are often part-comedy,
part-lecture, always entertaining and amusingly indignant.

Baba Brinkman
Won a Fringe First for his latest show 'The Rap Guide to Evolution'
and has both a B.A. Hons and an M.A. in Medieval and Renaissance
English Literature. Baba draws parallels between the worlds of hip-hop
music, genetics and literary poetry.

In the summer of 2004, Baba toured his hit show "The Rap Canterbury
Tales" to seven cities including Prague, Montreal, Edinburgh and San
Francisco. Since 2004 he has toured almost constantly worldwide.

Niall O'Sullivan
As seen on the BBC as the Wimbledon Championships' Poet-in-residence,
and host of the the Poetry cafe's long-running flagships Poetry
Unplugged and The Cellar, Niall's second book 'Ventriloquism for
Monkeys' overflows with accessible and intelligent work which explores
faith, the modern city and anthropolaelont- Paleoanthropolopo- er, ape

Kelley Swain
Writer in residence at the Whipple Museum of the History of Science at
Cambridge University and author of well-received poetry collection
'Darwin's Microscope' (Flambard press), using the 'lens' as a metaphor
for viewing the world with secular wonder, revealing greater meaning
in looking deeper.

"One poem cannily includes a extract from Emily Dickinson, and there
is an elegy for a father told - with an admirably Dickinsonian 'slant'
- through the mating habits of a sea turtle. Bravura!" - Anna
Woodford, Mslexia

Ajar mic: You vote to decide who wins a PAID gig and a place in the
Ajar Mic final on Nov 19th. Will it be.... Michelle Madsen, Fran
Isherwood, Ashna Sarkar or
there's a FREE SLOT! GET IN TOUCH...Bringing all your friends to vote
for you is, by the way, positively encouraged!

Plus the winner of our last ajar mic contest, MC and Hammer & Tongue
London slam finalist Charlie Dupre will also be rising to the theme!

Hosted by, and featuring a special reading by Richard Tyrone Jones
from his debut contribution to humanity's extended phenotype,
Germline: 'Often witty, sometimes unsettling and always smart' -
Edinburgh comedy award winner Tim Key. Richard shares a birthday with
Darwin. Well I'll be a monkey's uncle...

The Way of the Panda

Henry Nicholls is blogging about his new book at The Way of the Panda. He says:
The way of the panda is the subtitle for my next book, which will cover the 140-year journey the panda has taken from complete obscurity to the most celebrated zoological entity on the planet. So I'll be posting about what it's like to research and write a popular science book, there should be lots of fascinating panda-related facts and plenty of reflections on the conservation movement more generally.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

CFP - Victorian Literature and Science

 The second issue of Victorian Network, guest edited by Dr Ian Henderson (King’s College London), seeks to showcase new research into the connections between Victorian literature and the sciences.

Since the publication of Gillian Beer’s seminal Darwin’s Plots (1983), the study of Victorian science and literature as interrelated cultural practices has risen to be one of the largest and most dynamic fields within Victorian Studies. We are inviting submissions of no more than 7000 words that investigate the ways in which scientific disciplines, debates, practices and venues shaped the Victorian cultural imagination. A prize of £50 will be awarded to the best paper submitted. We reserve the right to withhold the prize.

Topics might include but are not limited to:
The shared forms, aesthetics and poetics of literary and scientific discourses
Victorian literature and nineteenth-century popular scientific entertainment
Gendered scientific practices in Victorian literature and culture
Science as a form of political / social critique in Victorian literature
Literary criticism and science in the Victorian period
Victorian culture and the imperial sciences
Literary and scientific modes of ordering knowledge
Affect and emotion in Victorian literature and science

We are also inviting postgraduates to present their research to a non-specialist readership by submitting short articles of circa 2000 wordsfor our outreach page, Victorian Wire. The CfP and more details about the outreach project can be found on Victorian Wire. We are offering a prize of £25 to the best short article submitted. We reserve the rightto withhold the prize.

All submissions should conform to MHRA style conventions and the in-house submission guidelines as set out here. The deadline for submissions to our next issue is November 1 2009. Please send submissions to:


Monday, September 14, 2009

Literary Events at the Whipple Museum

"Darwin's Bards: Poetry in the Age of Evolution"

Thursday October 22nd, 6-7.30pm

Over the hundred and fifty years since Darwin discovered Natural Selection, poets have explored the implications of his ideas for what it means to be a human being. Poetry not only makes us think about Darwinism in new ways, it enables us to feel more acutely and to understand more completely our own Darwinian condition.

In this talk, John Holmes, the author of Darwin's Bards, will explore some of the ways in which modern and contemporary poets have responded to Darwinism in their poems. With readings from Ted Hughes, Edwin Morgan, Amy Clampitt and others, he will make the case for poetry's crucial role at a time when we need more urgently than ever to come to terms with Darwin's legacy.

John Holmes is a lecturer in English at the University of Reading and Director of the Modern Studies Centre for Research in 19th, 20th and 21st Century Literature. He is the author of Darwin's Bards: British and American Poetry in the Age of Evolution (Edinburgh University Press, 2009), Dante Gabriel Rossetti and the Late Victorian Sonnet Sequence: Sexuality, Belief and the Self (Ashgate, 2005) and numerous articles on Victorian, modern and Renaissance literature.

"Object Stories" creative writing workshop

Katy Price and Kelley Swain (Whipple Museum Poet in Residence) will be giving a creative writing workshop. Pre-booking essential.

Thursday 29th October 2009, 6-8pm
Whipple Museum of the History of Science
Tickets for this event are free and may be reserved by emailing

New venue!

Next term the group will meet at a new venue - room MAB119 at Homerton College.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

CFP - BSLS 2010


The 5th annual conference of the British Society for Literature and Science will take place at Northumbria University in Newcastle on 8-10 April 2010.

Keynote speakers will include John Dupré, Professor of Philosophy of Science at Exeter University; Nick Daly, Professor of English Literature at University College Dublin; and Patricia Waugh, Professor of English Literature at Durham University.

The Society invites proposals for twenty-minute research papers addressing any aspect of the interaction between literature and science; collaborative panels of two or three papers; and papers or panels on the teaching of literature and science. We welcome work on literature from all periods and countries, and onall aspects of science, including medicine and technology. Presenters need notbe based in UK institutions.

Please email paper proposals of up to 300 words and a short biographical noteto the conference organizers Dr Peter Garratt and Dr Vike Martina Plock at Northumbria University ( by Monday, 21 December 2009. Please send abstracts in the body of the message; do not use attachments. Please address any queries to Dr Peter Garratt and Dr Vike Martina Plock at the email address above.