Wednesday, April 30, 2014

BBC New Generation Thinker Sarah Dillon on Literature and Science

Dr Sarah Dillon of the University of Cambridge discusses the two very different approaches to understanding the modern world offered by literature and science, and argues that in order to survive as a species and keep our humanity, we need both.

This is one of a series of films made as part of New Generation Thinkers: each year producers from BBC Radio 3 and BBC Arts, together with the Arts and Humanities Research Council, select a group of young academics who have the potential to turn their ground breaking ideas into sensational broadcasting.

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Talk - The Royal Society and Science Fiction

1:00 pm — 2:00 pm on Friday 02 May 2014
at The Royal Society, London

Public history of science lecture by Professor Farah Mendlesohn, head of department for English, Communication, Film and Media at Anglia Ruskin University.

The lone (mad) scientist is a common trope in science fiction, but hidden away is a fascination with secret and semi-secret societies who work for the future of all mankind. This talk will look at the representation of the Royal Society in science fiction and fantasy as fact, fantasy and metaphor.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Thursday, April 24, 2014

12th May - What Mr Darwin Saw

Our first meeting of Easter Term will take place on Monday 12th May in the Godwin Room at Clare College, from 7.30-9pm. We will discuss how authors in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries have converted Charles Darwin's Beagle voyage into suitable books for children, with an introduction to the set readings (see below) by Julie Barzilay. All are welcome to join us for what promises, as usual, to be a wide-ranging, entertaining, and thought-provoking discussion.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Visions of Science: Books and Readers at the Dawn of the Victorian Age - Secord

Jim Secord's new book Visions of Science is out now: find out more about it on the University of Cambridge research pages here; or read Rosemary Hill's review in the Guardian here.

Literature and Science Masterclass: "Thinking Through Form in Literature and Science"

University of Westminster, 30 April 2014, 3.00pm - 5.00pm, 32-38 Wells Street, London.

In this masterclass Janine Rogers will talk through her methods of working with the formal characteristics of literary writing and how these inform interdisciplinary relations with the sciences. This event is particularly aimed at postgraduates and early career researchers working in interdisciplinary ways with literary texts. All welcome – but a place must be booked.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

BSLS essay prize - deadline extended

The British Society for Literature and Science and the Journal of Literature and Science would like to announce an extension to the 2014 prize deadline for the best new essay by a postgraduate or an early career scholar on a topic within the field of literature and science. The deadline, previously April 1st, has been extended to May 31st 2014.
Essays should be currently unpublished and not under consideration by another journal. They should be between 6,000 and 8,000 words long, inclusive of references, and should be send by email to both John Holmes, Chair of the BSLS (, and Martin Willis, Editor of JLS (, by 12 noon on Saturday, 31st May, 2014.

The prize is open to BSLS members who are postgraduate students or have completed a doctorate within three calendar years of the deadline date. The Prize committee will consider on a case by case basis whether to accept submissions from anyone whose doctorate was completed more than three years prior to the deadline but whose career has been interrupted during that time (due to illness, maternity leave, etc.). Those who have submitted to the essay prize in previous years are very welcome to submit again. This includes any previous prize winners or honourable mentions.

The prize will be judged jointly by representatives of the BSLS and JLS.

To join BSLS (only £10 for postgraduates and unwaged members), go to
The winning essay will be announced on the BSLS and JLS websites and published in the JLS in the next available issue (most likely December 2014). The winner will also receive a prize of £100. The judges reserve the right not to award the prize should no essay of a high enough standard be submitted.
The winning essay for 2013 was Rachel Crossland’s ‘”Multitudinous and Minute”: Early Twentieth-Century Scientific, Literary and Psychological Representations of the Mass’ which was published in issue 6.2 of the JLS in December 2013. Also published in that issue was Josie Gill’s essay, ‘Science and Fiction in Zadie Smith’s White Teeth’, which received an honourable mention from the judges. Read these at

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

George Levine: Astor Visiting Lectureship at the University of Oxford

George Levine will be giving a series of talks in Oxford as part of his visiting lectureship.

George Levine (Emeritus Professor, Rutgers University) is one of the world’s leading figures in the field of science, literature and culture. His books include Darwin and the Novelists (1988), Darwin Loves You: Natural Selection and the Re-enchantment of the World (2006), Realism, Ethics, and Secularism: Essays in Victorian Literature and Science (2008), and Darwin the Writer (2011).

29 April  Lecture;  ‘Science and Religion from Herschel to Gould’
5.30pm,  Tsuzuki Lecture Theatre, St Anne’s College.  There will be a drinks reception following the lecture.

1 May , Crossing Boundaries: the challenges of working across science and humanities.   TORCH seminar.  Panellists:  George Levine,  Sunetra Gupta (novelist and Professor of Theoretical Epidemiology, Oxford); Michael Whitworth (English Faculty, Oxford).  Chair, Sally Shuttleworth (English Faculty, Oxford)
 1-2.30 pm, TORCH seminar room, Radcliffe Humanities Building.   Lunch will be available in the adjacent room from 12.30.

7 May Lecture: ‘Victorian finance and death: Money in Dickens’ Our Mutual Friend
5pm  English Faculty, St Cross Building, Lecture Theatre 2  There will be a drinks reception following the lecture.

9 May Seminar ‘Paradox: the Art of the Scientific Naturalists’ 
2-3.30 pm  Seminar room A, English Faculty, St Cross Building, Manor Road.  Joint Literature and Science and History of Science seminar.

All events are open to all.

Further information on literature and science events in Oxford is available here.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Pynchon and relativity

Simon de Bourcier, erstwhile member of the Science and Literature Reading Group, has recently published a paperback edition of his book on Pynchon and Relativity. Those of us who have been around for a while might remember Simon leading an excellent term's discussion of Pynchon back in 2007!

Easter Term 2014

Science for Children

This term we explore how scientific texts have been rewritten for juvenile audiences in the 19th, 20th and 21st centuries, as well as analysing a work written by two young people themselves. We meet on Mondays from 7.30 to 9pm in the Godwin Room at Clare College (Old Court).

Organised by Julie Barzilay (HPS), and Melanie Keene (Homerton College): please contact us if you would like to join the mailing list. Copies of readings not available online will be put in the Science and Literature Reading Group box file in the Whipple Library. All welcome!

12 May: What Mr Darwin Saw


9 June: Entomological adventures