Thursday, April 28, 2016

CFP - The “Heart” and “Science” of Wilkie Collins and his Contemporaries

24th September 2016, Barts Pathology Museum, London

Keynote: Dr. Tara MacDonald (University of Idaho)

‘“Why can’t I look into your heart, and see what secrets it is keeping from me?”’

The protagonist of Wilkie Collins’s Heart and Science (1883), surgeon Ovid de Vere, laments the difficulty in deciphering hidden emotions and secrets. Yet, the language suggests his medical background, striking a note with the novel’s supposedly anti-vivisection message and highlighting contemporary debates into the nature of experimental medicine, observation and epistemology. What is the best way of uncovering secrets, and what part does knowledge of the body play in this? Can medical training benefit from a thorough understanding of emotion? And does gender play a part in this? Issues of ‘heart’ and ‘science’ reverberate across Collins’s work, from the Major’s collection of women’s hair in The Law and the Lady (1875) to Ezra Jenning’s solution to the crime of The Moonstone (1868). This conference takes as its focus the proliferation of “heart” and “science” throughout Collins’s work.

We welcome proposals on, but not limited to, the following topics:
  • Wilkie Collins’s Heart and Science (1883) and/or any of Collins’s work
  • The Body: As a scientific subject, as a site of emotion, bodily representations, and the body in forensics, news reportage and the home.
  • The Victorian origin of disciplines: Collins as an interdisciplinary figure, the divide (or not) of “heart” and “science”, the definition of sensation in literature and/or science.
  • Medicine and anatomical science: vivisection, taxidermy, anatomical atlases and the nineteenth-century doctor and/or scientist.
  • Psychology and psychiatry: the physicality of mental illness, hysteria, the asylum, treatment and therapeutics.
  • Gender: the gendered body, representations of gender, the gendered connotations of “heart” and/or “science”.
  • Sensation: As genre, as sense or emotion, as subjective.
  • Detection: forensics, interrogation, the body as clue, the science of detection, and crimes of the heart.
  • Relationships: Romantic, familial, or otherwise.
  • Neo-Victorian Approaches to “Heart” and “Science”
  • Work by other contemporary sensation writers

Submissions are not limited to papers on Wilkie Collins’s Heart and Science (1883) but to “heart” and “science” at work in the full range of Collins’s fiction.

The WCJ and VPFA are also interested in related authors and ‘sensation fiction’ more broadly, hence papers on authors such as Mary Elizabeth Braddon, Charles Reade, Charles Dickens, Ellen Wood, Florence Marryat and other sensation writers will also be considered. Interdisciplinary perspectives are welcome.

Email abstracts to and by 17th June 2016.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Links - Shakespeare and science

The always-interesting Whewell's Gazette round-up of history of science, technology, and medicine articles on the internet has collected several pieces on Shakespeare and science published in celebration of this week's 400th anniversary:

Event - Public Health and Private Pain: A Night of Medical History and Drama

Thursday 5 May at 7pm, Museum of the History of Science, Broad Street, Oxford

Enter the Museum for a unique evening of performance and drama. Drawing from a rich variety of medical plays and historical material, the event will illuminate, provoke, and dramatize developments which have shaped ideas of the body from the 18th century to the present day. Join academics from across the University of Oxford, professional actors from the Pegasus Theatre and staff of the Museum of the History of Science as they show how these developments have been mapped not just by medical writing but by theatre, which has a long history of engaging with science and medicine.

Scenes and readings will include:
  • Shelagh Stephenson, An Experiment with an Air-pump (1998)
  • George Bernard Shaw, The Doctor’s Dilemma (1906)
  • Henrik Ibsen, Ghosts (1881)
  • A selection from the WWI poetry collection at Oxford by Sassoon and Owen
  • An historical anti-vaccination song
  • Joe Penhall, Blue/Orange (2000)

To book your free ticket, please register on Eventbrite here.

Online Exhibition - Fred Hoyle

St John's College has launched an online exhibition about Fred Hoyle: Science and Literature Reading Group members might particularly be interested in the 'Hoyle the Writer' page.

Monday, April 25, 2016

2nd May - More early modern frogs

In preparation for our first meeting next Monday, here are a few more early modern frogs found on the internet:
The old pond
A frog jumped in,
Allen Ginsberg

2nd May - Natural historical frogs

Our first meeting of term will take place on Monday 2nd May from 7.30-9pm in the Newnham Grange Seminar Room at Darwin College. We will kick off our frog-related readings with the relevant chapter from Edward Topsell's History of Four-Footed Beasts and Serpents (1658 edition), pp. 718-726. We hope to see you then!

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Easter Term 2016 - Frogs
The Science and Literature Reading Group returns for Easter Term 2016 with a series of meetings themed around frogs. The four sessions will explore various literary manifestations of frogs from the seventeenth to the twentieth centuries, and from pond-dwelling tadpole to taxidermied specimen.

Fortnightly meetings will take place in the Newnham Grange Seminar Room at Darwin College, on Monday evenings from 7.30-9pm. All are welcome! Organised by Melanie Keene (Homerton) and Charissa Varma (Darwin).

2nd MayNatural historical frogs

16th May Experimental frogs

30th May Anthropomorphic frogs

  • Beatrix Potter, The Tale of Jeremy Fisher (1906).

 13th June Poetic frogs

Optional additional reading

  • Charlotte Sleigh, Frog (2012).