Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Workshop - Ether and Modernity


San Sebastian/Donostia (Spain)

30 – 31st March, 2017

CFP: Physicists, Historians of Science and Philosophers are invited to attend and submit short presentations to the workshop "Ether and Modernity", on the presence of the ether in twentieth-century science and culture.

This is the third of a series of meetings (Oxford 2014, San Francisco 2015, San Sebastian 2017) to discuss the way an epistemic object like the ether was rejected, modified or maintained in the firs half of the twentieth century, and the later attempts to resuscitate it in contemporary physics.

The workshop has a twofold practical purpose: the finalisation of a joint publication with the contributions of the invited speakers; and the dissemination of the results and the incorporation of new ideas into the project by other historians of science, physicists and philosophers.

Please send expressions of interest to by November 15th 2016.

Invited Speakers:

Imogen Clarke (Independent Scholar)
Connemara Doran (Harvard University)
Linda D. Henderson (University of Texas)
Roberto Lalli (Max Planck Institute for the History of Physics)
Jaume Navarro (Ikerbasque and University of the Basque Country)
Richard Noakes (University of Exeter)
Arne Schirrmacher (Humboldt University)
Richard Staley (University of Cambridge)
Scott A. Walter (University of Nantes)
Michael Whitworth (University of Oxford)
Aaron Wright (Stanford University)

Monday, August 22, 2016

Talk - John Wallis (1616-1703), a mathematical journey through books

Pop-up talk in Cambridge University Library Rare Books Room, Thursday 25 August, 13:00-13:20

Dr Louisiane Ferlier (Digital Project Manager, The Royal Society)

Celebrating the 400th anniversary of John Wallis's birth, this talk will explore the variety of his contribution to mathematics, linguistics and philosophy by showcasing some of Wallis's books in the UL collections since the 18th century.

Rare Books Room (glassed-off area). Space limited. RSVP to Sophie Defrance ( appreciated. Library members only; to join, see

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

CFP - Writing Remains: An Interdisciplinary Symposium on Archaeology and Literature

Clifton Hill House, University of Bristol, Friday 20th January 2017.

‘It’s a kind of literary archaeology: on the basis of some information and a little bit of guesswork you journey to a site to see what remains were left behind and to reconstruct the world that these remains imply’. Toni Morrison is not the only writer to have imagined her work as a kind of archaeological digging, as an imaginative excavation of the past and a reconstruction of past lives from remains. From Wordsworth’s call to ‘grieve not, rather find / strength in what remains’ to Heaney’s bog poetry, writers have interrogated the significance of the earth, the buried, remains and fragments, and drawn upon techniques and tools associated with archaeology as a means of thinking about history, memory and the body. Conversely, archaeologists have begun to examine the potential influence of literature on their approaches to material traces and human remains. In the introduction to their 2015 book Subject and Narrative in Archaeology, Ruth M. Van Dyke and Reinhard Bernbeck note that there is an ‘increasing clamour for and interest in alternative forms of archaeological narratives, involving writing fiction, making films, constructing hypertexts, and creating media that transcend the traditional limitations of expository prose’ and that ‘Visual art, fiction, creative nonfiction, film, and drama have much to offer archaeological interpretation and analysis’. Literary critical approaches are also being recognised as useful ways of thinking about archaeological processes: for archaeologist John Hines, there is an ‘affinity between the scholarly disciplines’, archaeology involving ‘the same exercises of interpretation, analysis and evaluation as literary criticism.'

This conference brings together archaeologists, literary scholars and creative writers to explore similarities and points of convergence between literature, literary studies and archaeology across historical periods. We invite papers which adopt a range of disciplinary or interdisciplinary approaches to the relationship between archaeology and literature and/or the potential for methodological exchange between the disciplines. We are particularly interested in exploring synergies between archaeological science and literature, and how the human body as a site of archaeological knowledge might shape and be shaped by literary and critical approaches to the body.

Topics might include, but are not limited to:
  • Literary and cultural representations of archaeology 
  • Fragments, remains and reconstruction in archaeology and literary studies 
  • Theoretical uses of archaeology in the work of Walter Benjamin, Freud, Foucault * Human remains, bodies, bones and skeletons in literature 
  • The influence of archaeological writing on literary studies 
  • Representations of archaeology in the media 
  • Metaphor, analogy and storytelling in archaeology 
  • The relationship between memory, history and narrative 
  • Race and gender in archaeology
Confirmed keynote speakers
  • Dr. Robert Witcher, Durham University 
  • Dr. Jerome de Groot, University of Manchester

This conference is supported by the AHRC and is being held as part of the AHRC-funded project ‘Literary Archaeology’: Exploring the Lived Environment of the Slave Attendance at the conference is free and there is a limited fund for reimbursement of UK travel expenses. We are also pleased to offer a postgraduate bursary which will cover all expenses of the successful applicant. There will be an opportunity to publish conference papers in a special edition of a journal following the conference. Submit your abstract Please send 250 word abstracts to by 16th September 2016. Delegates will be notified of the outcome in mid-October.

Monday, August 15, 2016

Lecture - The Geological Turn: The Anthropocene and how we tell history

Thursday, September 29, 3:30 in Seminar Room 1, Department of History and Philosophy of Science

Scientists tell us the Earth has entered a new epoch: the Anthropocene. What we are facing is not only an environmental crisis, but a geological revolution of human origin. In two centuries, our planet has tipped into a state unknown for millions of years. Human history and Earth history are now commensurable and entangled. Beyond environmental history, what does this geological turn do to historical research? After decade of a "social-only" paradigm in the social sciences and humanities, how can we explore and tell the joint history of human societies and of the Earth system?

Stories matter for the Earth. The stories that the elites of industrial modernity have told themselves have been cultural drivers of the new geological regime we now live in. Similarly the kinds of stories we today tell ourselves about the Anthropocene can shape the kind of geo-historical future we will inhabit. The talk will cross-examine some key grand narratives of the Anthropocene (a mainstream naturalist narrative, a post-nature narrative, an eco-catastrophist narrative, and an eco-Marxist narrative) and reflect upon how history (and history of science) can be written and told in a new epoch.

Christophe Bonneuil is a Senior researcher in history of science, science studies and environmental history at the Centre Alexandre Koyré  (Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique) and teaches at the École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales, Paris. His research explores the co-evolution of ways of knowing and ways of governing nature and the Earth. He has recently published a global environmental history of the Anthropocene (The shock of the Anthropocene. The Earth, history and us, Verso, 2016, with J-B. Fressoz) and edited The Anthropocene and the Global Environmental Crisis : Rethinking Modernity in a new Epoch, (Routledge, 2015, with C. Hamilton and F. Gemenne).

Tuesday, August 02, 2016

3rd August - Strong Poison

Our book club will meet tomorrow evening at Darwin College from 5.30pm. We will be discussing Strong Poison by Dorothy L. Sayers - I hope to see you there!

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