Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Literature and Science survey - call for participants

"We are conducting a short survey to gauge how literature and science scholars perceive science in relation to their own work. Our aim is to establish whether there are particular conceptions of science and of scholarly practice in relation to it that are prevalent among literature and science scholars at large or among particular communities or disciplines working in this field. With this in mind, we are sending out the survey to the members of the British Society for Literature and Science, the Society for Literature, Science and the Arts (US and EU branches), and the Commission on Science and Literature. We are hoping to present the results of the survey at the SLSAeu conference next year and in the Journal of Literature and Science. We would be very grateful if you would take a few minutes to answer the questions in the survey. You can get to the survey by clicking on this link: https://bham.onlinesurveys.ac.uk/litsci-survey-2016. You are welcome either just to tick the boxes or to include brief comments alongside your answers. If you wish to, you can complete the survey in stages, and there is also a facility for printing off your response for your own records. The survey will close at the end of August. Please share this link with any friends and colleagues working on literature and science who are not members of the societies listed above. If you have any problems completing the survey, please contact Emil Toescu (e.c.toescu@bham.ac.uk). Thank you very much indeed. We look forward to sharing the results of our survey with you."

Emil Toescu (Neuroscience) and John Holmes (English Literature) University of Birmingham

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Frogs at the Whipple

Frog model, Wh.6599, image copyright Whipple Museum.
"Inspired by the arrival of our star amphibian at the museum, this summer the Whipple is going hopping mad! Frogs have been fundamental in scientific developments in cloning, in the discovery of the electrical signals from nerves, and have been used for hundreds of years by students learning about anatomy and dissection. Frogs provided the first reliable, non-deadly pregnancy test and have even been into space! We're celebrating their significant contributions to the history of science - keep checking back for more events and activities."

Summer at the Museums: Frogs in Focus

11am - 1pm and 2pm - 4pm, Tuesday 2nd August and Tuesday 16th August

Get up close and personal as we put our froggy friends under the microscope and recreate images that show why frogs have been the perfect scientific study buddies throughout history.

Drop in, all ages.

Summer at the Museums: Frog Leaps in Science

11am - 1pm and 2pm - 4pm, Tuesday 9th August and Tuesday 23rd August

Hop along to the Whipple to discover how frogs have made a splash in science and make your own jumping friend to take home!

Drop in, all ages.

Monday, July 04, 2016

Next term - Fire

Our meetings for Michaelmas Term 2016 will be themed around 'Fire', giving us the opportunity to discuss everything from ancient elements to far-flung suns, pottery to passion, experimental practice and hellfire. Watch out for the full schedule later on this summer; and email Melanie if you have a burning desire to add anything to the reading list!

Meanwhile, enjoy these playlists of music about fire:

A summer of Sayers

This summer some members of the Reading Group are starting a book club, and everyone is most welcome to join us! We will be reading works by Dorothy L. Sayers, starting with her Strong Poison, and thinking more about detection, chemistry, and expertise in fiction.

Further details (including the date) to follow, but meetings will be held as usual at Darwin College. Email Melanie if you are interested in participating.

Recap - Frogs

F is for Frog, in Walter Crane's Absurd A.B.C.
The final two sessions of term saw participants explore the human and poetic dimensions of frog-related literature, from Beatrix Potter to Seamus Heaney. We thought about changing fashions in taxidermy (including its hipster revival), and the repurposing of traditional tales and songs for different eras, whether Randolph Caldecott's picturebook or Bob Dylan's folk song cover. We discussed in detail the particular appeal of animals in children's stories; and how their anthropomorphism can help accentuate specific attributes, but also create some bizarre situations (since when did a frog need to shave?). We looked at how familiar myths and songs were reworked with more hopeful or sinister undertones; how frogs were used as symbols of both ambition and futility; how frogs could be part of an induction into the world of natural historical practice; and how the cartoonish depictions of juvenile fiction belied the disquieting threat of their slimy, amphibious nature.

Speaking of cartoonish depictions, several of us also met for an additional event: a screening of Disney's version of The Princess and the Frog, accompanied by suitable New Orleans cuisine. The ideal end to the term!

Many connections to our term's discussions were found when viewing Disney's The Princess and the Frog.
Thanks as ever to all participants in our conversations over the past few months, and especially to Charissa, superlative co-organiser. I'll never look at a frog or a toad the same way again...

A recent visitor to our garden.