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 ( 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 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.