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

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: ) by Friday 18th June.

Details of the event should soon be available at, but in the meantime the programme is also viewable at 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

Any enquiries, please get in touch!

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,

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:

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

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 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

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

Enquries to

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 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: