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