Monday, October 31, 2016

Talk - Medical Etymology: The Language of Medicine

The Cambridge Medical Humanities Society is excited to announce its first talk of the term. Join us at 6pm on Friday 4th November in the Main Lecture Theatre in St John's College for wine, soft drinks and snacks. The talk will start at 6.30pm. Further details can be found on our Facebook event and in the blurb below.

Ever wondered what a crab has to do with oncology? What bile has to do with depression? Where the word testis comes from? Or what the movie 'The Hangover' should really be called? Unlikely. Find out the answers to these useless questions and many more at our latest talk entitled 'The Language of Medicine'. If you've ever wanted to impress your consultant with a casual knowledge of Latin and Greek, this is the talk for you. We will cover a brief history of medical language, a cheat's guide to working out the origins of medical terms, and a selection of weird and wonderful medical etymologies, for lifelong use in pub quizzes, or awkward ward rounds.

As William Osler said 'The young doctor should look about early for an avocation, a pastime, that will take him away from patients, pills, and potions…' Let this be your avocation.

Alexandra Caulfield has degrees in Classics and Medicine, and is known for being overenthusiastic about medical etymology.

Friday, October 28, 2016

Performance - Professor Bernhardi

Prolonging life – we’re good at that!
Performance of ARTHUR SCHNITZLER’S Professor Bernhardi

28 & 29 October 2016, 7pm (Doors 6pm)
Pre-show talk at 6.30pm
Anatomy Building, Downing Site, Downing Street, CB2 3DY Cambridge

Arthur Schnitzler's unlikely comedy Professor Bernhardi (1912) tells the story of a Jewish doctor who prevents a Catholic priest from giving the last rites to a patient who is unaware that she is dying. It is a play about doctors talking to doctors, raising questions about the Viennese politics and ethics of medical care. The production will stage Schnitzler’s own archival work. It will shed light on his extensive drafts and notes on Professor Bernhardi, held by Cambridge University Library, and the pathology that shaped the creative process of Schnitzler's medical drama. The venue is the Anatomy Lecture Theatre at Downing Site, Cambridge. It has particular meaning for the drama. Anatomical theatres, like dramatic theatres, are places to see and to acquire knowledge. The topography of the anatomy theatre elevates the observer to a position that looks at the open body from above, almost with a birds-eye perspective.

The production is a collaboration between the theatre company [FOREIGN AFFAIRS], the Department of Physiology, Development and Neuroscience and academics from the Schnitzler Digital Edition Project.

Book tickets here: More information:

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

CFP - Humanities special issue on James Joyce, Animals and the Nonhuman

Humanities, an international, scholarly, open access journal, and its Guest Editor, Dr Katherine Ebury (University of Sheffield), are seeking proposals for a Special Issue focused on ‘James Joyce, Animals and the Nonhuman’. The Special Issue is scheduled to appear in September 2017, with a manuscript delivery deadline of June 2017.

While ecocritical approaches to Joyce, in particular in Eco-Joyce (Brazeau and Gladwin) and The Ecology of Finnegans Wake (Lacivita), have recently generated interest in Joyce’s environmental imagination, connections between Joyce and animal studies, or Joyce and the ‘nonhuman turn’, have yet to be explored. In Portrait, Temple is credited with the idea that ‘The most profound sentence ever written…is the sentence at the end of the zoology. Reproduction is the beginning of death’. But although excellent critical work on Joyce and animals has certainly appeared, with perennial interests being Tatters of ‘Proteus’, the Blooms’ cat, Garryowen of ‘Cyclops’, and, of course, cattle disease, a sustained volume or special issue certainly seems necessary. Equally, the voice of the printing press, which, Bloom reminds us in ‘Aeolus’, ‘speaks in its own way. Sllt.’ (7: 174–7) has been heard, but not so far in the sense of the ‘nonhuman turn’ which only emerged in 2012. This Special Issue seeks to offer a space for sustained consideration of how Joyce represents the animal and the nonhuman throughout his works. Contributions that suggest how we might feed Joyce’s example into contemporary conversations about animals and the nonhuman are also sought.

We welcome submissions that interrogate and interpret Joyce’s relation to the world beyond the human and are open to a range of approaches, including theoretical, textual, genetic and historical. We also welcome submissions from both emerging and established scholars.

We seek 250–500 word proposals for original contributions and a 100-word biography (included selected publications) by 31 October 2016; please email both the Guest Editor and the journal, as listed below.

Dr. Katherine Ebury
Guest Editor

BJHS Special Section - Palaeonarratives and Palaeopractices: Excavating and Interpreting Deep History

Group members might be interested in the (open access) special section of the September 2016 issue of the British Journal for the History of Science, on palaeonarratives and palaeopractices, especially guest editor Amanda Rees's 'Stories of stones and bones: disciplinarity, narrative and practice in British popular prehistory, 1911–1935'.

Monday, October 24, 2016

Victorian Network - Issue on 'The Victorian Brain'

The Summer 2016 issue of Victorian Network, entitled "Victorian Brain" and guest edited by Professor Sally Shuttleworth (University of Oxford), is now available.

Talk - The Strange Spaces of Chinese Science Fiction

Dr Sarah Dodd (University of Leeds)
5pm, October 26, 2016 (Wednesday) FAMES Rooms 8 & 9 

The history of science fiction in China reaches back to the beginning of the twentieth century, when utopian narratives of an idealised future played their part in calls for a revolution in fiction, and it has remained deeply entangled with the ideas and politics of a changing China. This talk will provide a whistle-stop tour of key movements in the history of Chinese SF, before considering the recent 'new wave' of writers, whose work is gaining awards and recognition not only in China but also in English translation. Looking at the work of Liu Cixin, whose Three Body trilogy is the first Chinese SF novel to be translated into English, and a number of other writers who are finding success in short stories, I will discuss the ways in which these works explore themes of hybridity, haunting and boundary-crossing – all tied in with ideas of contested space, whether of the body, society or the universe itself. Finally, to add another dimension to the discussion, I will look at the space of the SF field, considering the role of magazines, awards and fandom, as well as the key figure of author and translator Ken Liu, who has played an important role in bringing Chinese SF to English-speaking audiences, paving the way for recent ventures such as the collaboration between Clarkesworld magazine and Storycom International Culture – the first time an English-language genre magazine has made translation a regular part of every issue.

Speaker Dr Sarah Dodd is Lecturer in Chinese Studies at the University of Leeds. She teaches courses on Chinese literature, history and cinema, and her research focuses on representations of the monstrous in classical and contemporary Chinese fiction. She is co-organiser of the projects Writing Chinese: Authors, Authorship and Authority ( – which aims to create a network of authors, translators, academics and others working in the field of contemporary Chinese fiction – and Reading the Fantastic (, which brings together early career researchers looking at various aspects of the intercultural fantastic.

CFP - Literature and Science: The State of the Unions


What are the relations between literature, science and the arts within our field today? This special double issue marks a unique collaboration between the Journal of Literature and Science and Configurations. Across two years – 2017 in the JLS and 2018 in Configurations – we aim to enable scholars of all career-stages to debate the nature of the interdisciplinary relations of our field in short and sharp “position” papers of approximately 2000 words.

We therefore invite contributions that make an intervention in our thinking about the field of literature, science and arts. Potential topics for discussion include, but are not limited to, the following:
  1. The meanings of interdisciplinarity in the field
  2. The place of the study of literature and science within the academy
  3. International variations or international synergies
  4. Collaborative work between literature/arts and the scientific community
  5. How do we (now) define "literature" in the dyad of literature and science?
  6. The relationship between cultural theory and historicism in the field
  7. How is literature and science evolving in relation to its own splintering (into animal studies, neuroscience, environmental studies, etc.)?
  8. Speculations: what is the future of the field?
  9. Reflections: where has the field most profited and where has it gone astray?

Submission information for the first issue:
  • Length of contribution: 2000 words
  • Deadline: December 16th, 2016
  • Send to: Melissa Littlefield ( and Martin Willis (
  • Publication: JLS 10.1 in June 2017
  • Decisions on inclusion in the first issue by February 2017

NOTE: A further call for contributions for the second issue (Configurations, 2018) will go out in the Summer of 2017. It is to be hoped that the second issue will include, among other topics, reflections on the first set of published papers.

Friday, October 21, 2016

Cambridge Shorts 2016 - DISH LIFE

What do scientists really think about their stem cells ?

Dish Life is a melting pot of stem cell science, sociology and creative filmmaking.

Cambridge Shorts brings you an unseen world. Where stem cells and scientists talk to each other. The life in the dish, revealed. We may know why scientists do research into regenerative medicine, we may know what stem cells are, but we don't know how the scientists feel about working with them. What is in the process of culturing cells. Stem cells are more like unruly pets. They can be happy or sad. And so are the scientists.....

Pre-book on EventBrite ( £2 on door). Watch the trailer and follow our news !

Co-created by Dr. Loriana Vitillo (Wellcome Trust/MRC Cambridge Stem Cell Institute) and Karen Jent (Reproductive Sociology). Written and Directed by Chloë Thomas ( A project funded by Cambridge Shorts 2016, University of Cambridge.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

31st October - Sensitive Fire

Our next meeting of term will take place on Hallowe'en, and, appropriately enough, we will be exploring so-called 'sensitive flames': could these dancing embers provide a hint on how to reach beyond the grave? We will think about the genre of the scientific journal, the limits of scientific understanding, and how literary form could help determine the remit of the mid-Victorian man of science.

We meet, as usual, from 7.30-9pm in the Newnham Grange Seminar Room at Darwin College. Readings here:
Optional further reading: Richard Noakes, ‘The “bridge which is between physical and psychical research”: William Fletcher Barrett, Sensitive Flames, and Spiritualism’, History of Science xlii (2004), 419-464.

If you have difficulties accessing any of the readings then please email Melanie for pdf copies!

Recap - Cosmic Fire

Our first fiery discussion of the term delved deep into Heraclitean philosophy, as we sought an understanding of his cosmology. Whether considering flux or balance, mensuration or childishness, it was clear that our hour-and-a-half discussion was only ever going to be a beginning to a longer journey of reflection on allusive sayings and elusive meanings (I feel Heraclitus would have approved). Along the way, we were helped by thoughtful and  generous contributions from our numerous, wide-ranging group of attendees - thanks to all who came!

Comparing the more academic translation of Heraclitus's fragments with later poetic versions enabled us to foreground the form of his philosophy: suggestive, rather than didactic, perhaps? Like nature's hidden meanings, did true wisdom also have an occult quality? Should it more fruitfully be compared with contemporary Daoist writings, rather than Greek sophistry? A fine reading of Gerard Manley Hopkins brought out new textures to his poem, and after dwelling on the spiritual elements of Heraclitus's writings, we were able to see how its ideals of change, becoming, and conflagration could be co-opted in imagery of the Christian resurrection. Indeed, how metaphorical, and how literal, Heraclitus's fire might have been formed another hot topic of discussion: in a characteristic move for the Reading Group, this led to both a frantic Googling of the history of scorched earth agriculture, and a meditation on the etymology and linguistic co-locations (and collocations) of fire with anger, life, or love.

All this, and much more (I haven't even mentioned Nietzsche): our interest in this topic has certainly been kindled.

Job - Research Associate in Human and Nonhuman Intelligence

The Leverhulme Centre for the Future of Intelligence (CFI) invites applications for a postdoctoral Research Associate in the study of intelligence. The funds for this post are available for 3 years in the first instance.

CFI is a new, highly interdisciplinary research centre addressing the challenges and opportunities posed by artificial intelligence (AI) in both the short and long term. Funded by the Leverhulme Trust for 10 years, CFI is based at the University of Cambridge, with partners in the University of Oxford, Imperial College London, and UC Berkeley. The Centre also has close links with industry partners in the AI field, with policymakers, and with many academic disciplines.

This is a new Research Associate post within CFI's Kinds of Intelligence project, based in central Cambridge. This project, led by Dr Marta Halina and involving partners at Imperial College, draws on psychology, neuroscience, computer science, cognitive robotics, and philosophy to further develop and critically assess notions of general intelligence used in the field of AI. It aims to map the space of possible intelligences -biological, artificial, and hybrid - in order to enable more accurate predictions of AGI development and improved assessments of its benefits and risks. This post is an opportunity for a talented individual to make a major contribution to the development of this field of research.
Candidates should have a PhD in a relevant field and should provide strong evidence of potential for research and publication at the highest level, as well as strong interest in engagement with philosophy, science, and technology communities. The appointee will also play an important role in CFI's interdisciplinary activities, including discussion groups, workshops, and an annual conference. He or she will also be affiliated with the Department of History and Philosophy of Science.
To apply online for this vacancy, please click on the 'Apply' button below. This will route you to the University's Web Recruitment System, where you will need to register an account (if you have not already) and log in before completing the online application form.

Please upload in the Upload section of the online application (1) your Curriculum Vitae (CV); (2) a Covering Letter of no more than 1,500 words, outlining a proposed research direction, and explaining how this proposal and your skills would contribute to this project in particular and CFI more broadly; and (3) a Sample of Writing of no more than 8,000 words that demonstrates your suitability for this project. If you upload any additional documents which have not been requested, we will not be able to consider these as part of your application.

The closing date for applications is 18 November 2016. If you have any questions about this vacancy or the application process or procedure, please contact Susan Gowans at Please quote reference GA10453 on your application and in any correspondence about this vacancy.
Interviews will be held on 15 December 2016 in central Cambridge.

The University values diversity and is committed to equality of opportunity.

The University has a responsibility to ensure that all employees are eligible to live and work in the UK.

Further details.

Friday, October 14, 2016

Wells at the Whipple

Festival of Ideas: Space Oddities

5pm - 8pm, Friday 21st October. Drop in, 15+.

Before Virgin Galactic, before the Space Race, even before the Wright Brothers' first flight, the human imagination was sending astronauts to the Moon. Explore early manifestations of space travel in film, radio, fiction and popular culture. Robert Lloyd Parry will be reading from Jules Verne's From the Earth to the Moon and H G Wells' The First Men in the Moon, we'll be showing George Melies' Le Voyage dans la Lune, playing Buck Rogers radio shows and demonstrating objects that depict early theme park ride 'A Trip to the Moon'.

H.G. Wells readings

12pm - 1pm, Fridays in November. Ticketed, ages 16+, free.

Robert Lloyd Parry specialises in retelling the classic tales of the late 19th century, works by the likes of M R James, Arthur Conan Doyle, and - in this the 150th anniversary of his birth - H G Wells. Four of his best short 'scientific romances' will be read in the eminently atmospheric surrounding of the Whipple Museum of the History of Science.

Friday 4th November - The Crystal Egg

Friday 11th November - The Remarkable Case of Davidson's Eyes

Friday 18th November - The New Accelerator

Friday 25th November - The Sea Raiders

Attendance is free but must be booked by emailing

The Essex Serpent - blog post on Neo-Victorian Review

‘The Flying Serpent; or, Strange News Out of Essex’, 1669 (British Library).
Members of the group might be interested in this blog post on 'Mythic monsters, living fossils and liminal spaces' in Sarah Perry's recent novel The Essex Serpent. Also see a British Library blog post by Sarah Perry here.

Postdoctoral Research Assistant: Enlightenment Architectures (x2) Early Modern Collections

An exciting opportunity has arisen at the British Museum for two Postdoctoral Research Assistants to contribute to the Leverhulme Trust funded research project Enlightenment Architectures: Sir Hans Sloane's catalogues of his collections under the Principal Investigator, Kim Sloan and Co-Investigator Julianne Nyhan (UCL).

Beginning in January 2017, as part of this project, the post-holders will assist with the process of digitally encoding externally sourced transcriptions of six of Sir Hans Sloane's manuscript catalogues and will assist with identifying information entities within them which will inform research. You will also participate in the production of the project's peer-reviewed research publications, planned to be a minimum of four co-authored interdisciplinary articles which will be published by the end of the project.

The successful candidates will have completed a PhD, or equivalent, and will be proficient in Latin and/or at least one modern language related to the project. With experience of research/teaching/curatorial work, you will have strong knowledge of electronic text, particularly digital cultural heritage resources for the 17th and 18th centuries.

As an excellent team player, you will be able to work closely and diplomatically with research partners and museum colleagues and will be confident in speaking publicly about research to scholarly and wider audiences. You will have excellent organisation skills, will work to meet set deadlines and will have your own academic publication in preparation.

Salary: £28,460 per annum pro-rata
Contract: Fixed Term: 30 months in duration from January 2017 (Full time)
DEADLINE: Monday 31 October 2016 12pm Noon

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

CFP - BSLS Winter Symposium

The Politics of Literature and Science
Queen’s Building, University of Exeter, Saturday, 12 November, 2016
Organiser: Corinna Wagner (Department of English, Exeter University)

This BSLS Winter Symposium will explore relationships between politics, science, medicine, literature and visual culture. We will take ‘politics’ in both its broadest sense—considering for example, the politics of the body, the politics of scientific institutions, and how scientific and political discourse has shaped imaginative forms of expression (and vice versa). We will also take ‘politics’ in a more specific sense, to address how literary writers and artists actively intervened in specific medico-political debates, or how their novels, poems and plays acted as ‘mediums’ of scientific and political cross-pollination.
We would also like to invite papers that focus on the current field. What are the politics of researching and teaching in the field of literature and science? Contributors might want to reflect on engagement and collaboration, for example. The BSLS Winter Symposium will provide an opportunity for practitioners—artists, poets and novelists—and academics and theorists to share their methods and findings.
In terms of topics, contributors might consider how literary writers and artists raised and addressed scientific questions about, for instance:
  • medical treatments
  • the design of medical and scientific institutions
  • the collaborative or conflicting goals of scientists and governments
  • environmental policies and climate change issues
  • urban reform
  • social health reform policy
  • the uses of statistics and data
  • the scientific and political goals of empire
  • the application of science to issues of race
  • tropical medicine

One of the emphases of this one-day symposium will be the idea of transhistorical and transdisciplinary inheritance and exchange. For instance, how did eighteenth- or nineteenth-century ideas about contagion, excess, monstrosity, materialism, rationality, waste, dirt, geography or geology migrate between scientific, political and literary realms? And, what are the legacies of this migration? What historical continuities exist between past and present?
Lastly, we particularly invite graduate students to participate in a ‘policy show &tell’: these are 10 minute slots in which each presenter suggests ways their own humanities research could address or attempt to solve a current medical/scientific/health problem.

Please submit short proposals to Corinna Wagner on by 31 October, 2016

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Colloquium - Matter at the Crossroads: Literature and Natural Philosophy in Early Modern England

Trinity Hall, University of Cambridge
25 November 2016

Speakers include Stephen Clucas (Birkbeck), Katherine Hunt (University of Oxford), Claire Preston (QMUL), Scott Mandelbrote (University of Cambridge), Jonathan Sawday (SLU), and Helen Smith (University of York). Please note the deadline for registration is Tuesday 15th November, and delegate places are limited.

A full programme, abstracts, and registration are available at

If you have any queries, please don't hesitate to get in touch with Elizabeth Swann ( or Subha Mukherji (

We hope to see you there!

Monday, October 10, 2016

CFP - The British Society for Literature and Science Annual Conference

University of Bristol, 6-8 April 2017

The twelfth annual conference of the British Society for Literature and Science will take place at the University of Bristol, from Thursday 6 April until Saturday 8 April 2017.

Keynote talks will be given by Professor Havi Carel (University of Bristol), Professor Robert Mitchell (Duke University), and Professor Ralph O’Connor (University of Aberdeen).

The BSLS invites proposals for twenty-minute papers, or panels of three papers, on any subjects within the field of literature and science.

In addition, we are hoping to put together sessions with looser, non-traditional formats, and would welcome proposals from any person or persons interested in making presentations of approximately ten minutes from notes rather than completed papers. Our hope is that the latter format will encourage longer Q&A sessions with more discussion. If you have a topic or research area which would suit such a discussion, we would also like to hear from you. Other innovative formats are also welcomed, but please email your suggestion to the organisers for consideration well in advance of the submission deadline.

Please send an abstract (c.200 words) and short biographical note to the conference organiser by no later than 5pm GMT, Friday 9 December 2016. Please include the abstract and biographical note in the body of the email and not in an attachment. All proposers of a paper or panel will receive notification of the results by the end of January 2017. Proposals and all enquiries should be sent to Ros Powell (

The conference fee will be waived for two graduate students in exchange for written reports on the conference, to be published in the BSLS Newsletter. If you are interested in being selected for one of these awards, please mention this when sending in your proposal. To qualify you will need to be registered for a postgraduate degree at the time of the conference.

Please note that those attending the conference will need to make their own arrangements for accommodation. Information on local hotels will be made available soon.

Membership: conference delegates will need to register as members of the BSLS (annual membership: £25 waged/ £10 unwaged). It will be possible to join the BSLS when registering for the conference online.

Wednesday, October 05, 2016

17th October - Cosmic Fire

Our first meeting of the academic year explores fiery ancient philosophy. We are delighted that Liz Smith will be introducing the set readings, which are linked to here:
We look forward to seeing you then!

Fire - Online Exhibition

A diverse selection of sources exploring the many uses and meaning of fire are included in this online exhibition from MHEU. Perfect reading as we start the term!

Monday, October 03, 2016

Science and Literature - online blogs and resources

As we begin a new academic year, here's a reminder of some of the invaluable blogs and resources available online for those interested in all things science and literature:

BSLS book reviews
The fantastic archive of reviews by members of the British Society for Literature and Science is an excellent means of keeping up with recent publications and also a superb starting-point for new research topics. See it here.

Updates from the Constructing Scientific Communities team can be found on their blog here, including details of events and current research projects. Recent postings include songs about vaccination, and a sketchnote of a recent seminar.

Journal of Literature and Science
It's always worth looking at what's being published in this journal, but especially interesting are its reviews of academic articles where scholars comment on recent work in the field.

The blog of the Science Fiction and the Medical Humanities project is here: of particular interest is their call for contributions to an online bibliography of sources in the area.

The H word
The Guardian blog run by Vanessa Heggie and Rebekah Higgitt often includes posts relevant to sci-lit scholars; for instance, its recent post on spider silk.

Follow the #scilit or #litsci hashtags for updates from conferences, research-in-progress, and more.

Unsettling Scientific Stories
'Blogging the history of the future', as their tagline has it, which includes reading lists, analysis, project updates, and radioactive discoveries.

Whewell's Gazette
If you haven't already subscribed to Thony Christie's excellent weekly digest of all things history of science, technology, medicine, and more, then do so immediately! Many items of sci-lit interest are included each week, including information about plays, films, and exhibitions.

T.S. Eliot Lecture from 2004 - The Dark Art of Poetry

'Dark Art' or 'Occult Science'? Thought-provoking lecture on verse-making from Don Paterson online here.

CFP - All About Cinderella: retellings in the cultural imagination

University of Bedfordshire, 9th – 10th June 2017.

Three-hundred and nineteen years since the publication of Charles Perrault’s famous Histories du Temps Passé, the myth of Cinderella remains integral to many current facets of our cultures. Inspired by the University of Bedfordshire’s collection of scripts, books, theatrical memorabilia, designs, and ephemera on Cinderella and organised by the Research Institute for Media, Arts and Performance, this conference focuses on the role of performance and storytelling as a way to analyse moments of significant artistic, cultural and social change. The interdisciplinary event will provide an open debate about this ever-present story from different cultural perspectives across the world and we invite abstracts of 300 words for 20 minute papers.

Possible themes include:
  • Cinderella narratives and metaphors
  • Cinderella on screen and stage
  • Transnational Cinderella
  • The publishing of Cinderella
  • Victorian Cinderella
  • Cinderella and design
  • Adaptations of the Cinderella story
  • The psychology of Cinderella
Non-traditional proposals featuring collaborative papers, practice-led research, video-essays, elements of performance etc. where they increase our knowledge of the role of re-narration of fairy tales in artistic, cultural and social change are actively encouraged. RIMAP wishes to offer a prize for the best Postgraduate proposal.

Please include the following with your abstract:
  • Collaborators’ and presenters’ names, addresses, affiliations, contact details in a short biography, together with a URL to a sample of work (if appropriate). Please state if you are a postgraduate research student.
  • Description of the presentation/performance/screening 300 words max (if appropriate)
  • Technical or space requirements
  • Duration (the standard duration is 20 minutes but you may request multiples)
Please send your abstracts and support documentation to by 11.30pm on 9th December 2016. Notification of acceptance will be sent by 3rd February 2017. More information about the conference will be posted on the conference website: and on Twitter @cinderellaconf