Tuesday, October 19, 2010

This blog will no longer be updated.

See the HPS website here for the updated term's reading list.
See the BSLS website here for news listings of Literature and Science events.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Play - Hidden Glory: Dorothy Hodgkin in her own words

Georgina Ferry writes:
This year is the centenary of Dorothy Hodgkin, Britain's only female Nobel prizewinner. To mark the anniversary I wrote a short one-woman show based on her life, work and writings. It was performed in Oxford in the week of the anniversary in May, to accompany the unveiling of a bust of her in the Oxford University Museum of Natural History.

The production is coming to Cambridge next month, with three performances at the Old Labs, Newnham College, on 12 and 13 November. Tickets are on sale on the door or through an online agency: the link is

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Conference - Approaches to Art and Science after Berenson

A conference in honour of Martin Kemp

On Friday 22 October 2010, Ms Gheri Sackler  and the Leonardo da Vinci Society will host at
St. John's College Oxford and the Ashmolean  Museum a conference on the relationship between
scientific models in nature and the theory and practice of art. It will address results of forty
years of cross-disciplinary approaches to the histories of art and science. The main reason for
this conference is to honour Emeritus Professor Martin Kemp, a former Hon. President of the
Leonardo da Vinci Society, who retired from the University of Oxford in 2008.

The programme includes:
  • Mr David Hockney, CH, RA: Reflections on the Lost Techniques of Old Masters
  • Prof Frank Zöllner (Universität Leipzig): Automimesis -The History of an Idea
  • Prof Donald Preziosi (University of Calfornia, Los Angeles): Pausanias' Polygnotus and the Parallax of Parnassos
  • Prof Claire Farago (University of Colorado): The Artless Art of Leonardo's Treatise on Painting, c. 1570
  • Prof Francesca Fiorani (University of Virginia): Leonardo's Shadows
  • Prof Domenico Laurenza (Museo Galileo, Florence): Sixteenth Century Anatomical Drawings & Prints. How Scientists were indebted to Artists: New Evidence
  • Mr Francis Wells (Papworth Hospital, Cambridge): The Accuracy and Modern Relevance of Leonardo's Anatomical Studies of the Heart
  • Dr J. V. Field (Birkbeck, University of London): Panofsky on Perspective
  • Prof Philip Steadman (University College, London): 2D to 3D: Adventures with Martin Kemp in Reconstructing the Space of Paintings

Registration forms and further information available here: http://www.bbk.ac.uk/hosted/leonardo

The Leonardo da Vinci Society http://www.bbk.ac.uk/hosted/leonardo

Posted on behalf of the organisers, Matthew Landrus and Juliana Barone
, to whom any queries should be addressed.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Fantastic Fungus Day - Whipple Museum

What: FREE creative writing workshop.
Please note that booking is required for this event.
Email: hps-whipple-museum@lists.cam.ac.uk Telephone: 01223 330906

Where: The Whipple Museum of the History of Science, Free School Lane, Cambridge.

When: Saturday 30 October 2010, 10am – 2pm with lunch break from 12-1.

This event is part of the Cambridge Festival of Ideas.

How did a history of science museum end up with a case of hand-blown glass models…of fungus? Come find out!

Writers are invited to look, listen, and write in a workshop which will include a talk on the history of the glass fungi models on display in the Whipple Museum, a discussion on mushrooms in medicine, and a collection of poetry about mushrooms.

  • 10:00-10:30: Introductions; Kelley Swain, writer-in-residence at the Whipple, will lead a reading and discussion of samples of mushroom poetry. (Guests will each receive a packet of collected mushroom poetry)
  • 10:30 - 11:00: PhD student Ruth Horry will give a short talk on the display of glass fungi
  • 11:00-11:30: Time for discussion, writing, and examining the glass fungi models.
  • 11:30-12:00: Reconvene for short talk by Dr. Richard Barnett on mushrooms in medicine.
  • 12:00-1:00: Break for lunch.
  • 1:00-1:30: Time for discussion, writing. Real mushrooms will be available as writing prompts.
  • 1:30-1:50: Those who wish to share what they have written will be invited to do so.
  • 1:50-2:00: Feedback forms!

Monday, September 27, 2010

This is a news website article about a scientific paper...

From the Guardian.

Seminar - From Tristram Shandy to Bad Sex: Some Uses of Mathematics in Fiction

An LKL Maths-Art seminar by Tony Mann
Thursday 14 October 2010, 6.00 - 7.30pm

The worlds of mathematics and fiction might be thought to have little in common, but mathematics has featured in many novels, and many novelists have engaged seriously with mathematics and mathematicians. A few (perhaps surprisingly few) mathematicians have written fiction; many real and imaginary mathematicians have been appropriated as fictional characters, and novelists have based work on various mathematical structures and devices. This talk will examine some of these literary uses of mathematics. It will look at some illustrative examples from Plath to Borges and the Oulipo, mention some of the recent crop of diverse and fascinating mathematical novels, and discuss some of the issues that arise from this meeting of disciplines.

In his twenty-one years at the University of Greenwich, TONY MANN has taught mathematics, software engineering and digital media. His roles at the University have included Head of Department of Mathematical Sciences, 2002-2010. Before becoming an academic he worked as a software engineer in the electricity supply industry, writing mathematical modelling software. He is currently President of the British Society for the History of Mathematics (BSHM), is also Treasurer of the interdisciplinary Leonardo da Vinci Society, and has served on the Committee of the Computer Arts Society. In 2009 he organised a conference on Mathematics and Fiction in Oxford, following which he published an article in the BSHM Bulletin about mathematics and fiction.

DATE: Thursday 14th October
TIME: 6.00 to 7.30pm
PLACE: London Knowledge Lab, 23-29 Emerald St, London, WC1N 3QS
[Travel information & maps at: http://bit.ly/LKL-MathsArt-venue ]

All welcome. No reservation required, but an email to lkl.maths.art@gmail.com is appreciated for planning purposes.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Journal of Science Communication - Is Science Communication a Discipline?

The September 2010 issue of the open access JCOM - Journal of Science Communication - (issue 3 volume 9) includes a number of commentaries that explore the question of whether science communication is a discipline. Details are included below, including an overview from the editor, Nico Pitrelli.


Road maps for the 21st-century research in Science Communication

Nico Pitrelli

This is an introduction to the essays from the Jcom commentary devoted to the statute and the future of research in science communication. The authors have a long experience in international research in this domain. In the past few years, they have all been committed to the production of collective works which
are now the most important references for science communication research programmes in the next few years.
What topics should science communication research focus on and why? What is its general purpose? What is its real degree of autonomy from other similar fields of study? In other words, is science communication its 'own' field? These are some of the questions addressed by the in-depth discussion in this Jcom issue,
with the awareness that science communication is a young, brittle research field, looking for a shared map, but also one of the most stimulating places of the contemporary academic panorama.



Notes from some spaces in-between

Alice R. Bell

Science communication is less a community of researchers, but more a space where communities of research coexist to study and deal with communities of researchers. It is, as a field, a consequence of the spaces left between areas of expertise in (late) modern society. It exists to deal with the fragmentations of expertise in today’s society. In between those fragments is where it lives. It’s not an easy position, but an awareness of this unease is part of how science communication scholars can be most effective; as we examine, reflect, debate and help others manage the inescapable cultural gaps of post/late modern knowledge communities.



Brian Trench, Massimiano Bucchi

Science communication, an emerging discipline

Several publications have sought to define the field of science communication and review current issues and recent research. But the status of science communication is uncertain in disciplinary terms. This commentary considers two dimensions of the status of discipline as they apply to science communication – the clarity with which the field is defined and the level of development of theories to guide formal studies. It argues that further theoretical development is needed to support science communication’s full emergence as a


Toss Gascoigne, Donghong Cheng, Michel Claessens, Jenni Metcalfe, Bernard
Schiele, Shunke Shi

Is science communication its own field?

The present comment examines to what extent science communication has attained the status of an academic discipline and a distinct research field, as opposed to the common view that science communication is merely a sub-discipline of media studies, sociology of science or history of science. Against this background, the authors of this comment chart the progress science communication has made as an emerging subject over the last 50 years in terms of a number of measures. Although discussions are still ongoing about the elements that must be present to constitute a legitimate disciplinary field, we show here that science communication meets four key elements that constitute an analytical framework to classify academic disciplines: the presence of a
community; a history of inquiry; a mode of inquiry that defines how data is collected; and the existence of a communications network.



Richard Holliman

From analogue to digital scholarship: implications for science communication

Digital media have transformed the social practices of science communication. They have extended the number of channels that scientists, media professionals, other stakeholders and citizens use to communicate scientific information. Social media provide opportunities to communicate in more immediate and informal ways, while digital technologies have the potential to make the various processes of research more visible in the public sphere. Some digital media also offer, on occasion, opportunities for interaction and engagement. Similarly, ideas about public engagement are shifting and extending social practices, partially influencing governance strategies, and science communication policies and practices. In this paper I explore this developing context via a personal journey from an analogue to a digital scholar. In so doing, I discuss some of the demands that a globalised digital landscape introduces for science communication researchers and document some of the skills and competencies required to be a digital scholar of science communication.



Coming of age in the academy? The status of our emerging field

Susanna Hornig Priest

Science communication is certainly growing as an academic field, as well as a professional specialization. This calls to mind predictions made decades ago about the ways in which the explosion of scientific knowledge was envisioned as the likely source of new difficulties in the relationship between science and society. It is largely this challenge that has inspired the creation of the field of science communication. Has science communication become its own academic subdiscipline in the process? What exactly does this entail?


Tuesday, September 21, 2010

CFP - Lost and Found: In Search of Extinct Species

Explora International Conference
31 March–1 April 2011
CAS (EA – 801) / Toulouse Natural History Museum

Extinction has always fascinated and intrigued men, be they men of science or men of letters. The history of the Earth has been marked by five major mass extinctions, the most famous being undoubtedly the one that saw the end of the dinosaurs on Earth at the close of the Cretaceous period. At the beginning of the nineteenth century the increasing number of paleontological discoveries challenged certainties about the origins and place of man on Earth. The scientists’ search for extinct species and their conclusions, or surmises, undermined literalist readings of the Bible. Hinting at the issue of extinction, the discoveries paved the way for the development of evolutionary theory, climaxing with the publication of Charles Darwin’s The Origin of the Species in 1859. The study of fossils was thus poised between conflicting interpretations of the evolution of life on Earth: fossils crystallized conflicts, bringing to light the tensions between science and religion and epitomizing the period’s questionings as to the past and future of man on Earth.

This interdisciplinary conference aims to look at the way in which extinct species and past ecosystems have been represented and sensationalized from the nineteenth century to the present time. It will examine how man’s sudden awareness of species extinction (from the Dodo bird and the Moa to the more recent American pigeon) and/or the threat of extinction have informed literature and the arts, particularly focussing on the impact of climate change in literary and non-literary narratives, on the issue of man’s (in)significance in the history of the Earth and on the literary and artistic significance of end-of-world scenarios.

We invite 20-minute papers that engage with, but are not limited to, the following topics :

- the history of paleontology and fossil classification
- the history of fossil collecting
- the popularisation of geology and paleontology
- the reconstructions of extinct species
- representations of extinct species in literature and the arts
- representations of ecosystems in literature and the arts
- extinct species, ecology and the development of ecocriticism
- theories of mass extinction
- end-of-world scenarios

Please send 300-word proposals (attached as a .doc-file) together with a short biographical note to exploraextinctspecies@yahoo.com. Deadline for submissions: 20 November 2010.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Talk - Mathematics as Art in Contemporary Theatre

Monday, 18 October 2010, 12:45 - 14:00, CRASSH

Part of the CRASSH Fellows Work-in-Progress seminar series.  All welcome, no registration necessary.  Sandwich lunch and refreshments provided.

Dr Stephen Abbott (Mathematics/Middlebury)

While there are a few notable plays written about mathematics and science throughout the previous century, a qualitative shift in the relationship between science and theater occurred sometime in the past decade following the success of Arcadia (Tom Stoppard, 1993) and Copenhagen (Michael Frayn, 1999).  In the ensuing years, theater has seen a proliferation of successful plays that manage to synthesize explicit mathematical ideas into both the theme and mechanics of the performance. 

This is not a case of theater simply mining science for interesting source material.  What happens in the best mathematical plays is that the metaphors work in both directions as does the sense of illumination.  This cross-pollination is most easily experienced in plays with explicit mathematical content (A Disappearing Number, Proof) but it can also be analyzed in relation to form.  In fact, a defining trait of modern science plays is the successful way in which they exploit the merging of form and content.  What is significant is that 20th century mathematics—and in particular mathematical logic—is also characterized by investigations into the consequences of merging form and content.  These structural similarities reveal an even deeper kinship between drama and mathematics than might be expected.
To access the Readings for the Work in Progress seminar, please contact Michelle Maciejewska.

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Possible theatrical trips...

There are three plays of interest to group members on over the next few weeks that I thought it might be fun to go and see:

  • Bedlam is currently playing at the Globe in London, until the beginning of October.

  • A Disappearing Number will be live-streamed at the Arts Picturhouse on 14th October.

  • The Alchemist is on at the ADC from 12-16th October.

I'll send a message to the mailing list to see who's interested - or let me know if you'd like to join a group outing to any of these!

Monday, August 23, 2010

Michaelmas Term 2010: Meteorology and Climate Change

We meet on Mondays from 7.30 to 9pm in the Skillicorn and Bamford rooms at Homerton College. Many of the selections we have chosen are available online. Copies of the harder-to-obtain items will be placed in our box file in the Whipple Library. Organised by Daniel Friesner (Science Museum) and Melanie Keene (Homerton College). See this blog for news and updates; email Melanie to join our dedicated mailing list. All welcome!

18th October (in the Skillicorn room): Extreme events

Daniel Defoe, The Storm (1704), especially Chapter III, "Of the Storm in General", pp. 26-36 in the Penguin Classics edition. To find this chapter online, search for the phrase "before we come to examine the damage" on google books.

1st November (in the Bamford room): Clouds

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Poems in honour of Luke Howard (1820-22). Translated in Kurt Badt, John Constable's Clouds, trans. Stanley Godman (London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1950), pp. 12-14.
To find this online, search for the phrase "walks and flickers" on google books.

John Ruskin, The Storm Cloud of the Nineteenth Century: two lectures delivered at the London Institution (1884). Lecture 1, 4th February, especially the beginning and end of the lecture, pp. 1-8 and 29-44 on Internet Archive http://www.archive.org/details/thestormcloudofn00ruskuoft pp. 1-6 and 20-30 on Project Gutenberg http://www.gutenberg.org/etext/20204

15th November (in the Skillicorn room): Weather control

Eliza Leslie, "The Rain King; or, A Glance at the Next Century". Godey's Lady's Book, Vol. 25, July 1842, pp. 7-11. To find this online, search for the phrase "so many new stars had been added" on google books.

Carl Barks, "The Master Rainmaker". Walt Disney's Comics & Stories #156 (Vol. 13, No. 12, September 1953). Reprinted in Walt Disney's Donald Duck, No. 284 (Series II), May 1994. Also reprinted (in black and white) in The Journal of Weather Modification, Vol. 23, No. 1, April 1991, pp. 90-100.

Daniil Granin, Idu na grozu (1961). Translated as Into The Storm (Moscow: Progress Publishers, 1965) pp. 33-39, 182-187, 197-203, 239-249, 254-257, 307-309.

29th November (in the Skillicorn Room): Cooling down and warming up

Arthur C. Clarke, "The Forgotten Enemy". King's College Review, December 1948, pp. 20-24.
Reprinted in various collections, including SF: Author's Choice 4 and The Collected Stories of Arthur C. Clarke. To hear the story, followed by a discussion, go to http://freakytrigger.co.uk/ft/2008/10/a-bite-of-stars-a-slug-of-time-and-thou-episode-16/

J. G. Ballard, "The Drowned World". Science Fiction Adventures, #24 (Vol. 4, January 1962), pp. 2-56, especially pp. 2-25 and 55-56. (This is the original novella, which was afterwards expanded into a novel.)

CFP - Poetry and Melancholia

University of Stirling, 8-10 July 2011

Keynote speakers: Catherine Maxwell (Queen Mary, University of London), Don Paterson (Poet), and Susan J. Wolfson (Princeton University). Other speakers include John Drakakis (Stirling University), Lorna Hutson (University of St Andrews), Ron Levao (Rutgers University), Cornelia D. J. Pearsall (Smith College) and David G. Riede (Ohio State University)

This interdisciplinary conference seeks to explore the nature and representation of melancholia within poetry and its relationship to poetics and poetic creation from the Renaissance to the present. Drawing together contributors from Art History, Literature, Medical Humanities, Philosophy, and Print Media, Poetry and Melancholia will try to examine the variety of forms that melancholia has historically taken and extend its meaning beyond the social, medical and epistemological norms that had framed it as a sign of mental illness or a way of behaving to that of a cultural idea. We aim to define not only the different configurations and significance of melancholia as mood, feeling, state of mind, and a cultural outlook but also the role that modernity has played in its development from a medical discourse to a dispositional perspective. The Stirling International Poetry Conference has always been an event that both welcomes and supports practising poets, and this year working poets are especially welcome to participate by giving readings of their work and engaging in the subject debates around melancholia and poetry.


Aesthetics: the sublime, art and longing, decadence, narcissism and loss, revelations of destruction, degeneration, eroticism, melancholy genius, nostalgia, spleen, the states of boredom

Affect: sensibility, solitude and alienation, despair, grief, suffering and sadness, distorted senses, mood as language, psychology, transference, the workings of sympathy, haunting and return

Biomedical sciences: clinical depression, malady, delirium, humors, mental derangement, physiology and pathologies of the mind, psychoanalytic workings of mourning, somatic conditions

Nature, Space, and Landscape: landscape and distance, the resistance of physical objects, conflicts with nature, interior distance and phenomenology

Poetics: creativity, idleness and labour, imagination, inspiration and delirium, the politics of form and genre (allegory, elegy, lyric, and pastoral, etc.), poetry's relation to the visual and plastic arts

Tradition and History: appropriations of classical theories of melancholia, the idea of tainted inheritance, the traditions of witchcraft and the demonic, the past as loss, writing and memory

Sociology: alienation, anomalies of self-consciousness and the will, fragmentation and conflicts of modernity, otherness, gender, class, race, sexuality, social role of the poet, suicide

Please submit 300 word abstracts for 20 minute papers or proposals for panels together with a short biographical note or CV to Kyriaki Hadjiafxendi and David Miller at poetryandmelancholia@stir.ac.uk by no later than 15 January 2011.

BAVS has sponsored the conference to subsidise postgraduate participation. The Society for the Social History of Medicine offers three bursaries (£150 each) for postgraduate historians of medicine who have been accepted to give a paper as part of the conference.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Dates for Next Term

The Science and Literature Reading Group will meet from 7.30-9pm on the following Mondays in Michaelmas Term: 18th October, 1st, 15th, and 29th November. We meet at Homerton College, in the Skillicorn and Bamford rooms. Full details of our programme on meteorology and climate change will be announced in the coming weeks.

British Science Festival Events - Literature

This year's British Science Festival at the University of Birmingham runs from 14th-19th September. Literary events on the programme include:

Open Mic: There's Science in my Fiction (And Poetry)
7-10pm, 15th September, Old Joint Stock Function Room, free

"What if..?" ask both scientists and fiction writers. What if a gene mutates? What if she never married him? Science is fabulous inspiration for fiction - come read out your science-inspired stories and poems to win great prizes, including a Focus magazine subscription and champagne. Science-inspired authors Tania Hershman, Sue Guiney and Brian Clegg will judge. Put some science in your fiction!

Play: The Heresy of Nature
3-5pm, 18th September, The Library Theatre, Central Library, £3

A semi-staged play about the discovery of a Universe that appears indifferent to the human condition. Galileo and Darwin face ancient beliefs (represented by a cardinal) as they unravel the mysteries of Nature, while a couple of modern citizens fight against the apparent spiritual desolation of the Universe by seeking natural paths towards hope, meaning and purpose for the human existence.

Play: The Beagle Has Landed!
7-9pm, 18th September, G11, Aston University

The Missing, Inc. bring to life a hilarious – and wildly inaccurate -account of Charles Darwin's voyage aboard HMS Beagle, his marriage to his cousin Emma, and some stuff about natural selection. (Contains beards and scenes of mild evolution.)

To book and for further information about the Festival, see here.

British Science Festival Events - History

The British Science Festival 2010 takes place in Birmingham from 14-19 September.

The History of Science Section President this year is Frank James, Professor of the History of Science at the Royal Institution. His Presidential Session, Why is the Huxley-Wilberforce ‘debate’ so well known? takes place on Sunday 19th September, 6-8pm.

Other events organised by the History of Science Section at the Birmingham Festival:
  • Food in our Lives – Thursday 16th September, 1-3pm
  • Philosophical Pirates: Industrial Espionage as a Form of Knowledge Transfer in Eighteenth Century Birmingham – Thursday 16th September, 3-4.30pm
  • Tomorrow’s World: Past Visions of Future Technology – Saturday 18th September, 6-8pm (with Metropolis screening at the Electric Cinema, Sunday 19th – TBC)
Related events:

Organised by the BSHS Outreach and Education Committee, the Young People’s Programme features Science and Islam: Discover the Astrolabe. Thursday 16th and Friday 17th September.

Organised by the Physics and Astronomy Section, with the Royal Society: The Royal Society at 350. Friday 17th September.

With the University of Manchester: Drinking up Time: Science and Alcohol since 1600. Saturday 18th September, 7-8pm.

Overview of events in the Science Festival’s History, Heritage & Religion strand.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Preliminary reading for next term...

Anyone looking for a summer read could get a head start on next term's theme of meteorology and climate change and take a look at Daniel Defoe's The Storm (1704), which we will be discussing at our first meeting in October.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Routledge Companion to Literature and Science

The Routledge Companion to Literature and Science is about to be published. Details are available on the publishers' website:
With forty-four newly commissioned articles from an international cast of leading scholars,The Routledge Companion to Literature and Science traces the network of connections among literature, science, technology, mathematics, and medicine. Divided into three main sections, this volume:
  • Links diverse literatures to scientific disciplines from Artificial Intelligence to Thermodynamics
  • Surveys current theoretical and disciplinary approaches from Animal Studies to Semiotics
  • Traces the history and culture of literature and science from Greece and Rome to Postmodernism
Ranging from classical origins and modern revolutions to current developments in cultural science studies and the posthumanities, this indispensible volume offers a comprehensive resource for undergraduates, postgraduates, and researchers.
With authoritative, accessible, and succinct treatments of the sciences in their literary dimensions and cultural frameworks, here is the essential guide to this vibrant area of study.
Members of the British Society for Literature and Science are eligible for a discount.

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

On the Human - online forum

A fairly recent initiative of the National Humanities Center is 'On the Human', an online forum for humanities scholars and scientists to ’share their ideas and research’. A number of eminent scholars in the literature and science field have published essays in the forum, including N. Katherine Hayles (‘Distributing/Disturbing the Chinese Room’) and Joseph Carroll (‘The Adaptive Function of Literature and the Other Arts’), and each is followed by substantial comments from other scholars. The site recently published a new essay on ‘Late Darwin and the Problem of the Human’ by Gillian Beer. Former Science and Literature Reading Group member Katy Price's poetic response to the essay is on her blog here.

"Three Tales" Screening

Adrian will be screening Steve Reich's "Three Tales" on Thursday 8th July at 7.30pm. Contact Melanie if you'd like to come along (space is limited), and for directions.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Royal Society @ 350

Details of the literary events planned as part of the Royal Society's 350th anniversary celebrations on the South Bank next week can be found here. They include appearances by Jocelyn Bell-Burnell and Jamie McKendrick, Gabriel Weston, Adam Foulds and Samantha Harvey, a discussion on science fiction, and a family poetry workshop.

William Henry Fox Talbot: Beyond Photography - Exhibition at Trinity College

William Henry Fox Talbot (1800-1877) is now primarily remembered as a pioneer of photography. Talbot's work, however, extended across the natural sciences, mathematics, classical scholarship and Assyriology. His wide-ranging interests are documented in his vast correspondence with leading Victorian scientists and his non-photographic notebooks, some of which are on display in the Wren Library until 9 July.

The Wren Library is open to visitors from 12.00 until 2.00, Monday to Friday.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Once upon a time in the land of chemistry...

See here for 'a case for fantasy writing in chemistry'.

Flatland illustrations, and more

Shannon May's illustrations for Flatland, and other art and science images, are online here.

Scientizing the Other: Science, Medicine and the Study of Human Difference, 1800-1950

A one-day international postgraduate student conference to be held at Churchill College, University of Cambridge

Tuesday, 22 June 2010

For the last two hundred years, members of the scientific and medical establishments have represented and misrepresented peoples of different class, sex, race, age and ability in their efforts to chart human variation. This conference will explore how science has been used to evaluate the ‘other’ in society, and will examine the various means by which seemingly objective conclusions were reached concerning whole segments of the population.

Papers given will include:
  • Yoshiya Makita (Hitotsubashi University): ‘Institutionalizing the Disabled Other: Social Policy over the ‘Feeble-Minded’ in the United States and Japan and the Turn of the Twentieth Century’
  • Amir Teicher (Tel-Aviv University): ‘Identity, Purity and Otherness in the Praxis of Genealogical Tree Formation in Germany, 1900-1936’
  • Jenny Bangham (University of Cambridge): ‘The blood groups of the Basques: constructing a new anthropological tool, 1945-1960’
  • Christina Wu (Écoles des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales): ‘Diagnosing Passion in the Tropics: ‘Amok’ and Colonial Classification in British Malaya’
  • Fenneke Sysling (VU University Amsterdam): ‘Between Data and Experience: Physical Anthropology in the Dutch Indies, 1890s-1920s’
  • Jed Foland (University of Oxford): ‘Women’s Colleges and the Pursuit of Eugenics in the United States, 1910-1930’
  • Clare Tebutt (University of Manchester): ‘Male/Female/Other: 1930s Intersex Research and its Popular dissemination’
  • Howard H. Chiang (Princeton University): ‘How to Do the History of Transsexuality in China’
There will also be a concluding keynote address by Dr. Gavin Schaffer (University of Portsmouth) on the topic 'Racial Science and British Society'

Registration is free and the event begins at 9am

Thursday, June 10, 2010

New Fairy Tales - online magazine

See here for further details, and here for the latest issue (#5 - including a contribution by Kelley Swain).

Monday, June 07, 2010

Play - Blooming Snapdragons at the Royal Institution

Wednesday 14 July 2010, 7.00pm-8.30pm

100 years ago was an exciting time of discovery in the newly developing science of genetics.  Mankind was starting to uncover the very building blocks of life and what makes us, but what about womankind? This was a time when women couldn’t receive degrees on completing their exams, and women’s colleges had to fund their own laboratories as male scientists wouldn’t let them complete practical work in their labs. And yet, the early work in this new field of genetics is filled with the names of women scientists.

Now, a new play is bringing these names to life to explore their dedication and their contribution against a backdrop of exclusion from the mainstream scientific community.

‘Blooming Snapdragons’, written and performed by Liz Rothschild and Syreeta Kumar, tells the story of a remarkable group of scientists, known collectively as Bateson’s Ladies, whose contribution to the first steps into the vast new territory of genetics is marked through their scientific achievements, whilst little is known of them as people. It explores their preclusion from the male dominated laboratories of universities and their relationship with William Bateson, who coined the word ‘genetics’ but was himself a marginalised figure in academic society.

William Bateson was the first director of the John Innes Institute, an organisation that is celebrating its centenary this year, and it through researching material for the centenary celebrations that much of the groundbreaking work of these remarkable ladies has come to light, and prompted the modern day John Innes Centre to commission a play to tell their stories.

“It has been a fascinating journey into this period of scientific history so relevant to the work being done today and a rare privilege to be invited, as a writer with no scientific background, into the everyday world of laboratories and glasshouses,” commented Liz Rothschild.

‘Blooming Snapdragons’ takes place in a contemporary laboratory as two scientists explore the lost story of these women. Playing a series of female scientists from the past, they examine the controversy around educating women and how their careers developed, whilst one of them wrestles with her own personal challenges today.

“As a person who found science subjects difficult and even boring at school it has been fascinating to explore the beauty and bravery of the work of Bateson’s Ladies and I hope it will kindle in those watching a curiosity and respect for the questions and challenges facing science now,” said Liz.

‘Blooming Snapdragons’ is directed by Sue Mayo and will be followed by a panel discussion with Sue and the cast about the issues raised.
Tickets cost £8 standard, £6 concessions, £4 Ri Members.
To book tickets go to http://www.rigb.org/contentControl?action=displayEvent&id=1004

John Tyndall Correspondence Symposium, Thursday 24th June 2010, University of Leeds

This is a one-day symposium to bring together any researchers interested in the life, letters and works of nineteenth-century physicist and lecturer John Tyndall, and to discuss the international project to transcribe his correspondence.

Registration for the symposium is £5, which is payable on the day. As numbers are limited, if you would like to attend please contact Mike Finn (email: ph07maf@leeds.ac.uk ) by Friday 18th June.

Details of the event should soon be available at http://www.hps.leeds.ac.uk/News/index.htm, but in the meantime the programme is also viewable at http://www.personal.leeds.ac.uk/~ph07maf/tyndall.htm and in outline below:

Outline Programme:
09:30 Arrivals & Registration

10:00 Introduction by Graeme Gooday (University of Leeds)

10:10 Session 1

Michael Reidy (Montana State University)
“Bringing Science to the Humanities: The John Tyndall Correspondence Project”

James Elwick (York University, Toronto)
“Transcribing Tyndall, or, how to make Collaborative Academic Networks more than just a Buzzphrase”

11:30 Session 2
Graeme Gooday & Jamie Stark (University of Leeds)
“John Tyndall: Lecturing, Authority and Correspondence in Victorian Public Science”

Mike Finn (University of Leeds)
“Following Your Example at a Distance: The Carlylean Balancing of John Tyndall & James Crichton-Browne”

Michael Reidy (Montana State University)
“John Tyndall’s Vertical Physics”


14:00: Session 3
Frank James (Royal Institution of Great Britain)
“Father, Son, Brother, Colleague? Michael Faraday and John Tyndall”

Bernard Lightman (York University, Toronto)
“Tyndall and Patronage”

Wine Reception to close

This event has been generously supported by:
The Leeds Humanities Research Institute, The Wellcome Trust and the Royal Historical Society

CONFERENCE UPDATE: Reweaving the Rainbow: Literature & Philosophy, 1850-1910

Registration is now open. Details of this and of the draft conference programme can be found at http://sall.exeter.ac.uk/research/conferences/reweavingtherainbow/

Any enquiries, please get in touch! k.hext@ex.ac.uk

Provisional Programme

Friday 10th September

11.00-12.30: Registration (Refreshments and a light lunch will be served)

12.30-12.45: Welcome

12.45-14.00: Keynote Speaker: Prof. Michael Wood (Princeton), Title TBC
Chair: Prof. Regenia Gagnier (Exeter)

14.00-14.30: Coffee/tea

14.30-16.00: Parallel Panels 1
A: Aesthetics
Thomas Karshan (Queen Mary, London), On Free Play in Literature and Aesthetics, 1850-1910
David Taylor (Roehampton), Art … A Priestly Function
Patricia Zakreski (Exeter), The Philosophy of Design and the Art of Fiction

B: Science
Andrew Mangham (Reading), Dickens, Medicine and the Philosophy of Science
Philipp Erchinger (Exeter), Knowing How to Guess: Darwin’s Hypotheses, Kepler’s Discoveries, and the Relationship between Science and Art
Louise Lee (King's College, London), 'A Mouth at the Top': Nonsense-world Physiognomy and the Respatialisation of the Face in Lewis Carroll and Charles Darwin

16.00-17.30: Parallel Panels 2
A: The Fin de Siècle
Regenia Gagnier (Exeter), Title TBC
Michael Bell (Warwick), Myth, Literature and Modernity: A Question of Priority
Sara Crangle (Sussex), Fin-de-Siècle Laughters

B: Form and Composition
Martin Simonson (University of the Basque Country), Henry David Thoreau and Edward Thomas: The Aesthetics of Walking
Demelza Hookway (Exeter), 'What John Stuart Mill Saw': Mona Caird’s Dialogue with Mill Cumhur Yılmaz Madran (Pamukkale University), Existentialism Displayed in Conrad’s Lord Jim

17.30-18.30: Wine Reception (kindly sponsored by Pirongs Educational Publishers)

19.30 onwards: Gala Dinner (Holland Hall, University of Exeter)


Saturday 11th September

09.30-11.00: Parallel Panels 3
A: Poetry As Philosophy
Marion Thain (Birmingham), Phenomenology and Lyric Form
Karen Simecek (Warwick), The Experience of Poetry and its Role in Philosophical Inquiry
Nour Aweti (Leicester), The Poetical Philosophy of Constance Naden
Conor Carville (Reading) & Michael Halewood (Essex), Whitehead, Poetry and the Bifurcation of Nature

B: Philosophy through Fiction
David R. Sorensen (Saint Joseph's University), 'An Indefinable, Tentative Process': Carlyle, George Eliot, and the Redemption of Philosophy Through History and Fiction
Peter Rawlings (UWE), Henry James, What Maisie Knew, and Epistemology
Julian Wolfreys (Loughborough), Is There a Philosophy in This Text: Epistemological Countersignatures and Traces in Literature of the Nineteenth Century

11.00-12.30: Parallel Panels 4
A: Ralph Waldo Emerson and George Santayana
David M. Robinson (Oregon State), Emerson, Empiricism, and 'The Natural Method of Mental Philosophy'
David Greenham (UWE), Emerson Among The Philosophers
Ricardo Miguel-Alfonso (Universidad de Castilla-La Mancha), No More Barbaric Yawps: George Santayana and the Problem of Modern Poetry

B: Walter Pater: Rewriting Discourse and Identity
Kit Andrews (Western Oregon) The Essay as Philosophical-Literary Form: Pater’s Plato and Platonism
Adam Lee (Jesus College, Oxford) Platonism in Walter Pater’s The Renaissance
Sarah Townley (Nottingham). 'A Certain Kind of Temperament': Walter Pater and the Art of Individualism

12.30-13.30: Lunch

13.30-15.00: Parallel Panels 5
A: Dialogues with the Classics
Peter Faulkner (Exeter), Two Suicidal Philosophers in Victorian Poetry: Arnold’s Empedocles
and Tennyson’s Lucretius
Marylu Hill (Villanova), Socrates Gone Wilde: Socratic Reflections in the Wildean Mirror
Elizabeth Muller (University of Nantes), Yeats and the Pre-Socratic Philosophers

B: Dialogues with Idealism
Nathan Uglow (Leeds Trinity), Love Story: An Imperfect Account of a Victorian Concept
Sean McAlister (University of British Columbia), Poe's Interest/ Kant's Disinterest
Andrew Eastham (Independent Scholar), Bernard Bosanquet and the End of Hegelian

15.00-15.30: Coffee/tea

15.30-17.00: Parallel Panels 6
A: The Quest for Truth
Jennifer Diann Jones (Independent Scholar), 'It is a Very Hard Thing to Say the Exact Truth': Feuerbach’s Influence on George Eliot's Concept of Realism
Kristen Renzi, (Indiana), Toward a Feminist Pragmatist Literary Analysis: The Uses of Pragmatism for Literary Studies
Frederik Van Dam (Katholieke Universiteit Leuven), Epistemology and Ethics in the Legal Novel: Anthony Trollope's Hermeneutics of Instinct

B: Friedrich Nietzsche
Thomas Greaves (UEA), Beyond Astonishment and Admiration: Nietzsche's Transformation of Wonder
Will Meakins (Essex) Carlyle and Nietzsche: Community and Scepticism
Nidesh Lawtoo (Lausanne) D. H. Lawrence and the Mimetic Dissolution of the Ego: From Nietzsche to Deleuze

17.00-17.30: Closing roundtable discussion

Thursday, June 03, 2010

London Nineteenth-Century Studies Seminar - Photography Poems

Institute of English Studies, University of London

Saturday 5th June 2010
Venue: The Court Room (Senate House, First Floor)
Time: 11:00 - 13:00

Topic: 'Photography' Poems. Led by Professor Isobel Armstrong (Birkbeck College).

7th June - update

The Byatt reading is now in the Science and Literature Reading Group boxfile in the Whipple Library - both a copy of the book for reading in the library and a photocopy of the selected pages, which can be photocopied from by the main desk.

Call for papers - “Quit the road to ill-being”: Nineteenth-Century Ecocriticism

42nd Annual Convention, Northeast Modern Language Association (NeMLA) April 7-10, 2011 New Brunswick, NJ – Hyatt New Brunswick Host Institution: Rutgers University

This panel invites ecocritical readings of and/or approaches to nature in nineteenth-century texts, particularly Victorian literature, or discussions of these authors as "environmentalists." The Romantics are better known for their ecological consciousness, but this panel investigates Victorian attitudes: How did they relate to the non-human? How did they react to the impact of industry? I am interested in "against the grain" readings - rather than nature poetry, discussions of novelists like Austen and Scott, or Victorian authors engaging with urban spaces or transforming landscapes would be thought-provoking. How might we expand our concept of "nature" writing? Papers might consider dualisms (nature/culture, country/city); pollution or toxic discourse; or ecological communities that embrace the non-human. How do these readings shed light on our current climate crisis?

Please e-mail abstracts of 250-500 words by September 30, 2010, to Margaret Wright, mswright@ic.sunysb.edu.

Please include with your abstract:
Name and Affiliation
Email address
Postal address
Telephone number
A/V requirements (if any; $10 handling fee with registration)

Interested participants may submit abstracts to more than one NeMLA session; however panelists can only present one paper (panel or seminar). Convention participants may present a paper at a panel and also present at a creative session or participate in a roundtable. If your abstract is accepted, do not confirm your participation if you may cancel for another NeMLA session.

Approved NeMLA sessions are now listed online and accepting abstracts: http://www.nemla.org/convention/2011/cfp.html

These 370 sessions cover the full spectrum of scholarly and teaching interests in the modern languages.

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

7th June

Skillicorn Room, Homerton College, 7.30-9pm

For our last meeting of the year, we are no longer going to hold a creative-writing workshop; rather, a more relaxed end-of-term evening of conversation over a glass of wine or two. If you'd like to read something, then do have a look at the mock-Victorian insect fairy-tale, ‘Things Are Not What They Seem', from A.S. Byatt's ‘Morpho Eugenia’, Angels and Insects (1992). Let me know if you need a copy of this.

All welcome!

Society for the History of Medieval Technology and Science - Talk

“Mapping Paradise”: an illustrated talk by Alessandro Scafi.
Saturday, 12 June at 2:30 pm at the Museum of the History of Science, Broad Street, Oxford.

BSHS Perspectives on Science Essay Prize 2010

The British Society for the History of Science would like to announce our first annual student essay competition for school and college pupils. The competition is designed primarily for students completing the Perspectives on Science course, however students from any other related subject are also encouraged to apply. Eligible essays will focus on any aspect of the history of science, or have a strong historical element as background to a more contemporary scientific topic. A prize of £50 will be awarded to the winning candidate, and the winning essay will be published on our website http://www.bshs.org.uk/outreach.

Entries must be between 5,000 and 7,000 words long and will be judged on the following criteria:

  • Critical use of a wide range of sources
  • Accuracy and relevance of historical content
  • Quality of written communication
To nominate a student, please send an electronic copy of their essay along with their name, school/college and age to outreach@bshs.org.uk. Candidates must be under the age of 19 and still be in (or about to finish) full time secondary or further education by the submission date. The deadline for submissions is 30th July 2010. There is no limit to the number of entries from a single institution and candidates may nominate themselves if they wish.

For more information about the BSHS and what we do, please visit our website http://www.bshs.org.uk

Great Exhibitions!

The British Society for the History of Science is pleased to announce a new competition for public exhibitions that deal with the history of science and/or medicine.

Entries are welcome from institutions in any country and exhibits may be permanent or temporary. Eligible exhibits must use artefacts or places of some kind and this may include buildings or locations, pictures, instruments, objects and books. Web-exhibits are eligible for the prize. The closing date is the 15th September 2010 and exhibits should still be available for viewing until the end of November 2010. The prize is £300. The winning exhibit will be the subject of a special feature in the BSHS’s Viewpoint magazine. Entrants need to fill in a entrance for and this and further details are available from http://www.bshs.org.uk/outreach-and-education/competition-announcements/great-exhibitions

Enquries to outreach@bshs.org.uk

Two One-Year Postdoctoral Research Fellowships in Nineteenth-Century Studies (any discipline)

Faculty of Classics Vacancy Reference No: GE06658. Salary £27,319 for the year.

The Cambridge Victorian Studies Group of Cambridge University, in association with the Leverhulme Trust, intends to appoint two Research Fellows for one year from 1 October 2010 to work on its project, 'Past vs. Present: Abandoning the Past in an Age of Progress'. Those working on any relevant aspect of 19th-century British culture, including but not limited to History of Science, History, Theology, Classical Tradition, Egyptology, Literature, Cultural Studies, Music, Archaeology, Art, Museology, are invited to apply. Candidates may be at any stage in their academic career but must have submitted a PhD before October 2010.

Further details and an application form, CHRIS 6 (please only complete Parts1 and 3), can be obtained from Carolyn Bartley, Faculty of Classics,Sidgwick Avenue, Cambridge CB3 9DA, or from cb520@cam.ac.uk. Completed applications should be sent to the same address by Friday June 18th.

Applications should include a covering letter, the completed CHRIS 6 form, a detailed curriculum vitae, including a list of publications, a writing=20 sample, and a statement of research, which should be no longer than 2,000 words. Please quote the vacancy reference number on all correspondence.

Closing date: 18 June 2010. Interview date: 20 July 2010.

The University values diversity and is committed to equality of opportunity. The University has a responsibility to ensure that all employees are eligible to live and work in the UK.

Further details are at the current jobs listings on the University of Cambridge webpages: http://www.admin.cam.ac.uk/offices/hr/jobs/vacancies.cgi?job=6658

Friday, May 21, 2010

Professor Dame Gillian Beer, "Darwin and the Descent of Woman"

Respondent: Professor Juliet Mitchell
Chair: Professor Jim Secord

Weds 2 June 2010, 5.00pm to 6.30pm
The Pitt Building, Trumpington Street, Cambridge

All Welcome: Free Entrance and a glass of wine

Sponsored by the Centre for Gender Studies and the Darwin Correspondence Project

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

17th May - Insects

We meet, as usual, from 7.30-9pm in the Skillicorn Room at Homerton College. The modified reading list is all online, with links below:

‘A Lesson of Faith’ and ‘Knowledge not the Limit of Belief’, Margaret Gatty, Parables From Nature (1855-)

Monday, May 10, 2010

LitSciMed - Event 3

Applications are now open for the third event in the AHRC-funded 'Theories and Methods: Literature, Science and Medicine' training programme (www.litscimed.org.uk). The event will take place 1-2 July 2010 hosted by the Royal Institution of Great Britain and the National Maritime Museum, in London.

Day 1: Using History of Science Archives (Royal Institution of Great Britain).

Day 2: Exploring Science, Literature and Objects (National Maritime Museum).

There will be twenty funded places given to doctoral students for this training event. Bursaries are available for travel/subsistence and accommodation.

Applications must be submitted by 1 June 2010 (forms and a provisional programme are available at http://litscimed.org.uk/page/event3).We hope to confirm places by Tuesday 8th June 2010.

Fifteenth Annual Hans Rausing Lecture

 From scientific instruments to musical instruments: The tuning fork, metronome and siren
Professor Myles W. Jackson

Thursday 27 May 2010 at 4.30pm
McCrum Lecture Theatre, Bene't Street, Cambridge
Public lecture – all welcome

Myles W. Jackson is the Dibner Family Professor of the History and Philosophy of Science and Technology at the Polytechnic Institute of New York University and the Gallatin School of New York University.
My talk analyzes how nineteenth-century acoustical instruments meant to standardize musical performance and measure various dimensions of sound, such as pitch and beat, were a century later put to use as musical instruments themselves. Metronomes (and their predecessors, the chronometer) and tuning forks migrated from bourgeois households and rehearsal halls to physics and physiological laboratories and then back to concert halls, where they were the primary instruments of a number of twentieth-century compositions. Similarly, sirens, another instrument employed by nineteenth-century acousticians for determining accurately musical pitch, were heard with increasing frequency in the twentieth-century musical halls of New York, Berlin, and Paris. Drawing upon a material cultural history of science and technology, this lecture will trace how these objects were redefined by their new roles as the generators, rather than the quantifiers, of musical qualities, by exploring both the use of mechanical apparatus to standardize critical aspects of early nineteenth-century music and the resulting debates surrounding what such standardization meant to the art. Did these machines hinder or enhance expression and creative genius? Could they thwart the attempts of virtuosi to take liberties with the composer's original intentions? Twentieth-century composers, such as Györgi Ligeti, Edgard Varèse, and Warren Burt, used these same acoustical instruments to subvert the very notions they were created to define and reinforce.

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Dickens and Science - new issue of 19

The latest issue of Birkbeck's online journal 19, guest edited by Holly Furneaux and Ben Winyard, explores Dickens’s myriad engagements with science, including medicine, psychology, forensics, evolutionary thought, palaeontology, ecology, and contested practices such as mesmerism. Participating in the lively revision of earlier accounts of Dickens’s failure to understand and respond to science, this special issue places Dickens at the heart of a peculiarly Victorian, deeply literary, appreciation of the imaginative potential of scientific discovery.

See here for the table of contents, and link to the articles.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

10th May - Stars

We begin our exploration of the fairy-tales of science by travelling to the stars. All of this week's readings are available online at the links below. We meet from 7.30-9pm in the Skillicorn Room at Homerton College: this is in the Ibberson Building on this map. I will be at the porter's lodge at 7.20 should anyone prefer to meet there instead. All welcome!

General Introductory Reading

Readings for 10th May
‘Training the Pole-Star’, and ‘The Tail of a Comet’, Elizabeth W. Champney, In the Sky-Garden (1877).

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Oxford Literature and Science Seminar, April-May 2010

University of Oxford
Faculty of English Language and Literature
Literature and Science Seminar

Please note the different days, times, and venues for each week’s session

Professor Sally Shuttleworth (University of Oxford), ‘Childhood Sexuality and the Victorian Novel.’
Friday 30 April 2010, 3.30pm.
English Faculty, St Cross Building, Room 10.

Professor Bruno Latour (Fondation Nationale des Sciences Politiques, Paris), ‘A Compositionist Manifesto.’
Wednesday 12 May 2010, 5.30pm.
English Faculty, St Cross Building, Lecture Theatre 2.

Graduate Forum: Stella Pratt-Smith (University of Oxford), ‘Mind over Matter: From Sensation to Precision in Nineteenth-Century Representations of Electricity’.
Will Tattersdill (King’s College, London), ‘Two Sides of the Same Page: Science and Fiction in the Late Victorian Periodical.’
Friday 28 May 2010, 2pm.
English Faculty, St Cross Building, Room 10.

Convenors: Dr Kirsten Shepherd-Barr and Dr Michael Whitworth

Event - Ian McEwan at Royal Society of Literature

Monday 10th May, 7pm, Kenneth Clark Lecture Theatre, Courtauld Institute, Somerset House, Strand, London WC2R 1LA

Originality in science is synonymous with being first; originality in the arts is somewhat different.  At what point do these two creative endeavours overlap?  Ian McEwan is a novelist who has often taken science as a subject: Enduring Love was about a science writer, Saturday about a brain surgeon.  His latest novel, Solar, is about global warming and its protagonist is a Nobel Prize-winning physicist who has given up original work to enjoy his own celebrity.  McEwan’s first book, the short stories First Love, Last Rites, was hailed for ‘an originality astonishing for a young man still in his twenties’.  Yet original work by scientists is most often achieved while they are still young: do they develop differently?  Richard Fortey’s original work is on fossils.  He is a research palaeontologist at the Natural History Museum whose books include Trilobite!, shortlisted for the Samuel Johnson Prize, and Earth: an intimate history. A Fellow both of the Royal Society and of the Royal Society of Literature, he is a former President of the Geological Society of London.
This event is free for Fellows and Members of the Royal Society of Literature. There are a limited number of tickets available for members of the public at all RSL events. These are sold at the door, from 6pm, on a first-come-first-served basis. We suggest a contribution of £7 (£5 concession). For further information please visit our website http://www.rslit.org, or call us on 02078454676.

BSLS Book Prize - Announcement

The British Society for Literature and Science book prize for the best book in the field of literature and science published in 2009 has been awarded to Leah Knight for Of Books and Botany in Early Modern England: Sixteenth-Century Plants and Print Culture (Ashgate).

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Play - The Alchemist

The Alchemist is on at the ADC next week - a few Science and Literature people are going to see it on Wednesday 21st, if anyone else wants to join us? Further details (and tickets) here.
The Marlowe Society presentsThe Alchemist
by Ben Jonson
Tuesday 20th April - Saturday 24th April

The world famous Marlowe Society return to the ADC Theatre to bring to life Jonson’s finest

Living in a stolen house, Face, Subtle and Doll Common are making themselves a fortune.

Imagine a London where the desire for money (as well as certain other vices) drives individuals to believe the most outrageous things. Imagine a London where this indulgent philosophy leads its residents into farcical and extraordinary situations.
Jonson wrote The Alchemist to satirize the London of his time but his precise and
enlightened depiction of humanity remains scarily relevant today.

Our three ‘heroes’ are master con-artists. Employing a spectacular array of characters and costumes they entice, seduce, befuddle and hustle their way through Jonson’s most colorful and eclectic collection of characters with hilarious results. The Alchemist is often thought of as one of the greatest comedies of all time and the Marlowe Society’s 2010 production supports this in every possible way.

If laughter is what you need then head back 400 years and see London for how it really was... or is. Full of the funniest fools one could ever imagine. The con is on!

Monday, April 12, 2010

New online resources

A selection of things recently brought to my attention:

1. The Science Museum's Brought to Life website:
The Science Museum’s new history of medicine website has now been completed. In all it now present 4000 new images of artefacts from the collections linked to 16 specialised themes on medicine across time, written by staff and other professional historians of medicine. Each theme is associated with bibliographies and interactives suitable for teaching at several levels.
The themes are:
Belief and medicine; Birth and death; Controversies and medicine; Diagnosis; Diseases and epidemics; Hospitals;Mental health and illness; Practising medicine; Public health;Science and medicine; Surgery;Technology and medicine; Medical traditions;Treatments and cures; Understanding the body; War and medicine
Under a creative commons policy the images are available for download.

2. The New Light on Old Bones project:
New Light on Old Bones (NLOB) is an innovative, multi-disciplinary research project looking at the cultural, social, and historical context of natural science collections in two venues in North West England; Blackburn Museum, and Rossendale Museum.
The lead researcher is Mark Steadman, and the project board consists of Dr Samuel Alberti of The Manchester Museum, and David Craven and Dr Myna Trustram from Renaissance North West.
The project aims to provide museums with a toolkit of methods they can use to better interpret their collections.

3. The Victorianist blog:
The postgraduate website for BAVS.

4. Wellcome Medicine and Literature Guide
Includes details of how to research medicine and literature in the Wellcome Trust collections, and of online medicine and literature resources.

Monday, April 05, 2010

Easter Term 2010

This term we will focus on the fairy-tales of science, reading a selection of nineteenth-century works that combined new discoveries with the myths and legends of old. We meet on Mondays from 7.30-9pm in the Skillicorn Room at Homerton College: please note our new venue, and the rather irregular scheduling due to the May bank holidays. Readings will be made available in photocopied packs in the Whipple Library and Homerton library from the beginning of term, and many of the selections we have chosen are also online (links below). Organised by Daniel Friesner (Science Museum) and Melanie Keene (Homerton College). See our blog for news and updates; email Melanie to join our dedicated mailing list. All welcome!

General Introductory Reading

10th May – Stars
‘Training the Pole-Star’, and ‘The Tail of a Comet’, Elizabeth W. Champney, In the Sky-Garden (1877).

17th May – Insects
‘A Lesson of Faith’ and ‘Knowledge not the Limit of Belief’, Margaret Gatty, Parables From Nature (1855-)
‘A.L.O.E.’ [C. M. Tucker], Fairy Frisket; or, Peeps at Insect Life (1874), chapters 10-11.

24th May - Water
‘The Autobiography of a Drop of Water’, Annie Carey, Autobiographies... (1870).

7th June
‘Things Are Not What They Seem’, ‘Matty Crompton’ [A.S. Byatt], from ‘Morpho Eugenia’, Angels and Insects (1992).

CFP - Copernicus and his International Reception

Copernicus's theories did not enter the scene of European thought (science and theology) without dispute. This volume of Intersections will concentrate on the debates it triggered and it is specifically dedicated to two aspects of the international reception of Copernicus:

1) the reception and criticism of Copernican theories in astronomy, philosophy, religion, art history, and early modern literature;

2) the biographical, literary, artistic representation and ideological appropriation of 'Copernicus the man'.

Among the main questions will be:

Ad 1) Why did Copernicus leave an open flank in this theories by numerous mathematical imprecisions and how did physics cope with this deficit? Did the pluralisation of the worlds give change to the diagrammatical representation of world models? By which temporal shifts did the various arts react to the Copernican model? Did the metaphorical language of the areas concerned change (the heavens, planets, satellites)? Was there a change in the position of the mythological figures in pictorial arts? Were there new allegories? How did the iconography of the heavens change? Is there a difference in the ways Catholicism and Protestantism reacted to Copernicus? What was Copernicus's influence on the utopian literature?

Ad 2) By which processes in early modern European science and literature did Copernicus and his theory become a pan-European point of reference within the history of knowledge and how was he re-nationalised in historiography and literature after the early modern period? How did this nationalist and/or ideological
appropriation of Copernicus come about (e.g. the reception of Copernicus in socialist societies)? What kind of reception is reflected in the various monuments and images of Copernicus?

INTERSECTIONS brings together new material on well considered themes within the wide area of Early Modern Studies. Contributions may come from any of the disciplines within the humanities. The themes are directed towards hitherto little explored areas or reflect a lively debate within the international community of scholars.

This volume will be edited by Thomas Rahn, Wolfgang Neuber, and is scheduled to appear in 2012. Proposals, about 300 words in length, should be sent (electronically) no later than September 1st 2010,
either to: Thomas Rahn trahn@zedat.fu-berlin.de or Wolfgang Neuber neuber@zedat.fu-berlin.de or Claus Zittel zittel@khi.fi.it