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 pp. 1-6 and 20-30 on Project Gutenberg

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

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 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.