Tuesday, December 12, 2017

CFP - Global Mountains

July 5-6, 2018
University of Cambridge
Mountains have long been sources of fascination, inspiration and despair, productive of distinctive ways of thinking and acting among inhabitants, administrators, scientists, travellers, and distant readers and viewers alike. ‘Global Mountains’ will be a two-day conference bringing into conversation scholars from a range of disciplines working on diverse engagements with and imaginations of mountainous regions. Geographical features, especially oceans, rivers, and islands, are now frequently deployed as productive spaces in which to reorient older national or colonial narratives. Mountains, long on the peripheries of states and empires as well as scholars’ attention, are beginning to receive deserved similar consideration. They are increasingly recognised as providing valuable lenses through which to examine political, social, and aesthetic issues. As areas of unusual ecological prominence and environmental agency, they are also vital locales for working through the more-than-human histories so urgently needed in the Anthropocene.

This conference will bring together conceptions of mountains as both subjects of enquiry and the settings of unique human and beyond-human stories across Africa, the Americas, Asia and Europe. Key themes to be addressed include the importance of verticality in the history of scientific practice, the reciprocal effects of mountain environments and human cultures, and the roles of mountains as borderlands between states and empires (and thus as spaces that complicate national and regional boundaries). ‘Global Mountains’ will focus on uplands in contexts that transcend traditional area studies units, paying particular attention to issues of scale and exploring how high places became, and continue to be, units of long-distance theorisation and comparison. This conference aims to historicise and specify the means by which mountain spaces have been perceived and acted upon in ways that render them distinct from lowland settings. It will also investigate how social sciences and humanities might develop ways of ‘thinking like a mountain’, generating models and modes of expression that place uplands at their heart rather than conceiving of them as aberrations from norms derived from plains and oceans. Through these elements, ‘Global Mountains’ will seek to reorient understandings of global connections and processes from the flat to the jagged, and from the horizontal to the vertical.

We aim to facilitate discussion around, but not limited to, the following thematic sessions:

  • Mountain Environments
  • Mountain Societies
  • Mountain Imaginaries
  • Mountain Sciences
  • Mountain Politics

This two-day conference will take place at the University of Cambridge on July 5-6, 2018. We invite scholars at all career stages to apply, and very much welcome interest from graduate students and early career researchers. We encourage submissions from scholars working on mountains in any related discipline. All speakers will be asked to submit their papers for pre-circulation in advance of the event, in order to facilitate in depth discussion, and with a view to publication. Please send an abstract (300 words or less) and a current CV to globalmountains2018@gmail.com by 15 January 2018.

Organised by Lachlan Fleetwood (Cambridge) and Thomas Simpson (Cambridge)

Tuesday, December 05, 2017

CamPoS seminar - 'What’s the Point of Margaret Cavendish’s Blazing World? Travel, Science, and Thought Experiments'

6 December, 1 p.m., HPS department, seminar room 2 in the basement.

Emily Thomas of Durham will talk on 'What’s the Point of Margaret Cavendish’s Blazing World? Travel, Science, and Thought Experiments'.

Abstract: 'Travel has a long and intimate history with philosophy. Travel also has a long and intimate relationship with fiction. Sometimes travel fiction acts as ‘thought experiments’, experiments that we can run through in our heads. This talk explores a 1666 fiction travelogue, Margaret Cavendish’s Blazing World. In the novel, a virtuous young lady is kidnapped and travels by boat through the North Pole into a new world. I argue this is no mere piece of science fiction. Instead, this travelogue acts as a distinctly philosophical thought experiment, exploring the pros and cons of Baconian philosophy of science, utopias, and what it means to be real.'

CFP - 3rd International Conference on Science & Literature

Université Pierre et Marie Curie - Paris 6 (UPMC)
Hellenic Open University


2-4 July 2018, Paris, France

First call for papers

Following the successful two International Conferences on Science and Literature which took place in Athens and Poellau this Conference is the third to be organized under the aegis of the Commission on Science and Literature DHST/IUHPST. The third International Conference will be co-organized by the Université Pierre et Marie Curie - Paris 6 (UPMC) with the technical support of the Hellenic Open University. As it was the case with the first two Conferences, the third one does not have a specific theme, as its intent continues to be the creation of an open forum for all scholars interested in Science and Literature, thus bringing into the dialogue multiple perspectives. Nevertheless, the Conference will be organized along thematic sessions, according to the papers which will be accepted by the Scientific Committee.

Proposals for individual papers or panels of three or four papers should be submitted from 1st December until the 29th of February 2018. They must include the title of the paper (or the theme of the panel), name and affiliation of the author(s), an abstract of no more than 350 words and a short CV of up to five lines.

Proposals and inquiries about practical matters may be sent to gvlahakis@yahoo.com and konstantinos.tampakis@gmail.com

An international scientific committee will review the submissions and notice of acceptance will be sent within the first two weeks of March 2018.

Prof. Pauline Lescar will be the chair of the Local Organizing Committee and member of the Scientific Committee.

Registration: 1st February 2018 to May 30th 2018

Registration fees (include coffee, tea, refreshments and Conference material): 100 Euros

Fees for students and early career scholars: 50 Euros

Participants are asked to make their own arrangements concerning their accommodation in Paris, but the Conference organizers will be happy to give any necessary assistance.

Further information will be included in the second CfP which will be circulated on 5th January 2018.

Monday, December 04, 2017

New Journal issue - 'Technologies of Fire in Nineteenth-Century British Culture'

19: Interdisciplinary Studies in the Long Nineteenth Century, 25 (2017)

Cultural histories of nineteenth-century Britain have studied the important physical and psychological transformations caused by the industrialization of light. Gaslight, though discovered prior to the nineteenth century, became aligned with the era's narratives of national and industrial progress, an arc that, one might argue, culminated in the growing popularity of electric light at the end of the century. Yet, despite these new technologies of 'artificial light', 'natural' wood and coal fires remained popular in British culture. This issue explores fire as a visual and narrative technology in art, literature, and public displays by examining the ways in which fire evoked competing symbolic values, such as primitivism and modernity, vitality and destruction, intimacy and spectacle. The reading order mixes articles and shorter pieces together to demonstrate the continuities of fire across various sites, including: the domestic fireside, the tallow candle, theatrical conflagrations, Turner's fires, subterranean fire, solar fire, fireworks, funeral pyres, and a coal-ship fire.
  • Introduction - Anne Sullivan and Kate Flint
  • Animating Flames: Recovering Fire-Gazing as a Moving-Image Technology - Anne Sullivan
  • Tallow Candles and Meaty Air in Bleak House - Anna Henchman
  • Fire on Stage - Nicholas Daly
  • Power, Creativity, and Destruction in Turner's Fires - Leo Costello
  • Visions of Volcanoes - David M. Pyle
  • Dirty Fires: Cosmic Pollution and the Solar Storm of 1859 - Kate Neilsen
  • Fireworks - Kate Flint
  • Victorian Imag(in)ing of the Pagan Pyre: Frank Dicksee's Funeral of a Viking - Nancy Rose Marshall
  • While the World Burns: Joseph Conrad and the Delayed Decoding of Catastrophe - Jesse Oak Taylor
  • Afterword - Fire - Isobel Armstrong
Read or download the articles here. Also see 19's Facebook page for updates.

Monday, November 27, 2017

Recap - Mud

Armed with appropriate refreshments and entertainment for the end-of-term party, we met for the final time in the wonderful Watson Gallery on Monday 27th November. We read and discussed a selection of poems which in different ways used mud, soil, or earth to contemplate themes of transience, nostalgia, mortality, embodiment, sensory engagement, warfare, regionality, ritual, heritage, and more. Many thanks to everyone for their thoughtful contributions to the conversation!

Below, Charissa's photos of Simon's poetic illustrations.

UL exhibition: Landscapes Below: Mapping and the New Science of Geology

A new, fascinating exhibition on mapping and geology by Allison Ksiazkiewicz (who completed her MPhil and PhD in HPS) at the University Library. See here for a good overview, and sign up here for special tours of the exhibition led by Allison.

The exhibition runs from November 25, 2017 to March 29, 2018 at Cambridge University Library's Milstein Exhibition Centre. Admission is free. Opening times are Mon-Fri 9am-6pm and Saturday 9am-16.30pm. Closed Sundays.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

27th November - Mud

Our final meeting for Michaelmas 2017 - as well as our end-of-term party - will take place on Monday 27th November from 7.30-9pm in the Watson Gallery, Department of Earth Sciences.

We will be contemplating earthly poetics: mud as medium, metaphor, material. To prepare, please read as many poems from our muddy anthology as you'd like:
All welcome!

Reminder - Whipple Library display

Detail from Mary Buckland, 'View of the Axmouth landslip...', 1839.

A reminder that the fantastic small exhibition at the Whipple Library of works from the history of the earth sciences donated by Martin Rudwick is still on display - do go and see it if you haven't yet had the chance!

Recap - Mountain

Our third meeting took place on a chilly Monday evening, which brought at least a hint of the Canadian climate to Cambridge. Charissa gave a fabulous, wide-ranging introduction to the set readings, putting them into a wider context of the role of mountains in geology and tourism; in ideas and ideals of masculinity and conquest; in the presence of women in the literary and photographic record of early 20th-century mountaineering; in the variety of ways in which women participated in climbing, photographing, collecting, reporting, or conversing; and through the particular biographies of some of the extraordinary women whose works we read.

We learned about the role groups such as the Alpine Club of Canada - from whose journal the selected readings were taken - had in putting a Canadian 'stamp' on mountaineering, ensuring that Canadians, too, could claim 'first' ascents. We learned of the social cohesiveness of these clubs, with most members being middle-class/professionals; and that there were a significant number of women who joined. We learned how the Canadian-Pacific railway made the Rockies newly accessible for trade, travel, and exploration, and how an economy was established along its route. 'The Alpine Club of Canada' gave a sense of the possibilities of patriotism and participation the group hoped to foster.

Considering the appreciation of mountains from the 18th/19thC as locations for especially picturesque or spiritual experiences, we compared how these women often spoke about their physical, tactile contact with mountains. Mountaineering was an overtly embodied endeavour (as 'A Graduating Climb' detailed): a combination of 'the flesh-stuff and the soul-stuff', which had - so these writers claimed - benefits for health, including for female bodies, as laid out by 'Mountain Climbing for Women'.

We discussed the different ways of writing about the mountains to be found in one journal - or even in one article. From the humour of Ethel Johns, to the scientific precision of 'Observations on Glaciers', or the wonderful photographic illustrations to 'Untrodden Ways', women's variegated mountain experiences were well captured in the writings. 'Untrodden Ways' also made mention of the First Nations peoples who lived, worked, and climbed in these regions, acknowledging their previous presence.

We looked in more detail at the biographies of Mary Vaux (see the marvellous photographs online at 'Mary M. Vaux: A Picture Journal': lots of wonderful mountaineering images; Her botanical illustrations are also on Wikipedia), Mary Schaffer (more on her here) and Mollie Adams, who suffered an unfortunate encounter with Rudyard Kipling, and Elizabeth Parker.

Overall, we felt privileged to have, through their writings, photographs, and records, joined these women on their ascents and adventures. Next time: mud, glorious mud.

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Vacancy for Archivist (Early Collections) at the Royal Society

Vacancy: Archivist (Early Collections) Permanent, full time
Location: Royal Society (Carlton House Terrace, London)
Deadline: 17 November 2017
Interview date: 28 November 2017

The Royal Society is the independent scientific academy in the UK and the Commonwealth and our aim is to recognise, promote and support excellence in science, and to encourage the development and use of science for the benefit of humanity. The Royal Society is the oldest scientific academy in continuous existence. The Society owns some of the world's most important collections relating to history of science, including organisational archives and manuscripts of its Fellows. We are recruiting for an Archivist (early collections). The post will be responsible for the care, cataloguing and management of the Society's historical archives and donated collections of manuscripts, generally from the 17th to the early 20th century. The post-holder will work closely with the Archivist (Modern Records), particularly in relation to the transfer of modern records into the Society's archives database, but also in developing and maintaining appropriate authority and cataloguing structures and standards - most importantly on the Society's Fellowship. The post-holder will also work with the Digitisation Manager in the creation of new digital resources, based upon archival holdings. The Archivist is charged with the preservation of the Society's collections into the future and with the acquisition of additional materials relating to the Society's history and Fellowship. The post supports the Royal Society's objectives aimed at encouraging academic study of the history of science and in inspiring audiences. The post-holder will be expected to articulate the importance of these history of science resources and aid in their wider dissemination.

For more information and to apply, please follow the link to the Royal Society Jobs portal.

For questions about the role, please contact laura.outterside@royalsociety.org.
For other enquiries, contact humanresources@royalsociety.org.

Wednesday, November 08, 2017

'Analogy' at Philosophy of Historical Sciences Reading Group

The next meeting of the Philosophy of Historical Sciences Reading Group will take place next Thursday, 16 November, 11-12:30 in the McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research Seminar Room.

The theme is 'Analogy', with 2 suggested readings by Adrian Currie and Rune Nyrup. You can find the readings here (given the combined length of the texts, those interested can only skim the ideas, as a basis for the discussion)

Tea, coffee and Leibniz biscuits provided.

Best wishes, Alexandra, Adrian and Rune

Monday, November 06, 2017

CFP: Climate Hack - University of Cambridge Museums

Friday 19th - Sunday 21st January 2018

Over three days, four museums in Cambridge will be handing over control to teams of people to shake up how they share stories about climate change. From Friday morning to Sunday afternoon, participants will collaborate in multi-disciplinary teams to create a prototype museum installation or experience in one of our collections. The teams will be put together by the Climate Hack organisers to ensure that they each have the right combination of skills to bring a brilliant new idea to life – whether it’s a 3D interactive, an audio interpretation, an immersive experience or a hands on challenge, the choice is yours! At the end of the weekend the prototypes will be revealed for the public to play with and enjoy.

More information available online here.

Deadline for submission: 10pm, Sunday 26 November 2017

Wednesday, November 01, 2017

13th November - Mountain

Our third meeting of term features selections from early numbers of the Canadian Alpine Journal, in which several women discuss their experiences of climbing the Rockies. All are welcome to join us from 7.30-9pm in the Department of Earth Sciences! Suitable mountaineering apparel is not compulsory.

Recap - Ground

Edmond Halley advertises the Reading Group's meeting
Our second meeting of term ventured under the Earth's surface, as we discussed a classic of so-called 'Hollow Earth' fiction, paired with an argument for why there might plausibly be separate spheres held within our own terrestrial globe.

We explored how both texts used literary strategies to present their events or reasoning processes as likely extensions of currently-known observations, creatures, or societies. We thought about fantastical travel narratives and their relationships with other genres: how speculative fictions as well as tours of underworlds were used to frame understandings of what might be found underfoot. We saw how the two texts in question connected what we might call intraterrestrial writings with extraterrestrial writings, as the interior of the Earth was compared with other planets, whether Saturn's rings, the Moon, or new planets waiting to be discovered.

The evening ended with a wonderful tour of Simon's lab - and other highlights of the Department of Earth Sciences, including the dinosaur-clad library bookcases - where we were able to glimpse the current work ongoing to illuminate changes in the  Earth's magnetic field.

Next time we ascend the Canadian Rockies.

Monday, October 30, 2017

Talk - 'Five Shades of Gray: Galileo, Goltzius, and Astronomical Engraving'

1 November 2017, 17:00 - 18:00
Little Hall, Sidgwick Site

A public lecture given by Eileen Reeves, Professor and Chair of Comparative Literature at Princeton University.

No registration required. Please note venue location - Little Hall, Sidgwick Site
The lecture will be followed by a drinks reception in the Atrium of the Alison Richard Building.

Part of the Genius Before Romanticism: Ingenuity in Early Modern Art and Science project. For more information please contact Gaenor Moore.

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Seminar - '*Dr Johnson after Thomas Pennant: The [Re]transit of the Caledonian Hemisphere.'

Prof Nigel Leask (Glasgow) gives the next18th-Century and Romantic Studies seminar:
Thursday 2nd November, 5pm, Board Room, Faculty of English. All are welcome.
"The paper explores the influence of Thomas Pennant's published Scottish Tours in 1769 and 1772 on the practice and representation of Johnson's and Boswell's Scottish tour in 1773, the success of which largely eclipsed Pennant's subsequent reputation. I will discuss the contemporary reception of both tours, exploring their itineraries, intellectual networks, and the composition of their travel accounts, as well as questioning a simplistic opposition between Pennant's favourable account versus Johnson's Scotophobia. The paper also examines their respective attitudes to the Ossian controversy, and to the Gaelic language, which inflects their otherwise similar criticisms of Highland modernity. The paper is illustrated with topographical images by Pennant's 'artist servant' Moses Griffith and other contemporary views of the Highlands."
Those wishing to undertake some preparatory reading might look at the following: Johnson's /Journey to the Western Islands of Scotland/; Pennant's /Tour in Scotland and Voyage to the Hebrides/ (1772); Pat Rogers' /Johnson and Boswell: The Transit of Caledonia/.

Nigel Leask is the Regius Professor of English Language and Literature at the University of Glasgow. He has published widely in the area of Romantic literature and culture, with a special emphasis on empire, India, and travel writing, as well as Scottish literature and thought. His book, /Robert Burns and Pastoral: Poetry and Improvement in Late-18th Century Scotland/ won the Saltire Prize for the best Scottish Research Book of 2010. He has recently edited the /Collected Prose Writings of Robert Burns/ for the AHRC-funded Oxford edition of the /Collected Works of Robert Burns/. He is currently CI of the AHRC funded 'Curious Travellers: Thomas Pennant and the Welsh and Scottish Tour, 1750-1820' (2014-18) http://curioustravellers.ac.uk/en/ and is writing a book entitled /'Stepping Westward': the Scottish Tour 1720-1820/. He is a Fellow of the British Academy and of the Royal Society of Edinburgh, and is a Vicepresident of the Association of Scottish Literary Studies.

Monday, October 23, 2017

HPS group - Casebooks Therapy

'Casebooks Therapy' is an informal reading group for those interested in using the manuscripts of Simon Forman and Richard Napier in their research. The aim of the reading group is to improve palaeography skills, as well as to provide guidance about how to make sense of Forman's and Napier's records. No familiarity with early modern handwriting is necessary, and the group is open to all. Attendees are invited to suggest a particular page or case from the casebooks that they have trouble reading to work through collaboratively. Participants should bring a laptop.

Meetings are held on occasional Wednesdays, 4.30–6pm in the Department of History and Philosophy of Science, Free School Lane. The first session is on 25 October and will introduce Forman, Napier and their casebooks. Dates of subsequent meetings will depend on interest. Please email Lauren to add your name to the list if you haven't already.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

30th October - Ground

Our second meeting travels below the ground, as we look at two so-called 'Hollow Earth' writings, a travel narrative and a natural philosophical paper:
Additional relevant information can be found in this useful overview on 'Stories of a Hollow Earth' by Peter Fitting at the Public Domain Review.

Recap - Stone

We began our term's Earth-themed meetings with a discussion of the last two books of Pliny's Natural History, on stones and on precious stones, surrounded by the wonderful Watson Building Stones Collection. Sitting in front of many examples of Italian and Greek marble, our conversation ranged from amulets to amber, sanding to Sarcophagi, to the uses (and abuses) of classical statuary.

One of the most significant, lengthy, and complete ancient works, the Natural History attempted to be an encyclopaedic rendering of contemporary knowledge about the contents, origins, usages and properties of the natural world. Indeed, we found, the books were more than a catalogue of rocky descriptions, being accounts, stories, and recipes which dealt with stones in all their manifestations:
  • As part of a bigger natural whole
  • As sculpture, art, and buildings
  • As having intrinsic aesthetic properties
  • As coming from specific places
  • As useful: in processes, in remedies
  • As magical or marvellous
  • As mythical
  • As tasty
  • As fossils
  • As changeable
  • As similar and simile

Throughout, we considered three themes or questions on the compilation and presentation of natural knowledge, as the text exhibited differing voices, digressions, and tensions:
  • Authority: whose?
  • Description: how?
  • Meanings: why?
We closed our conversation with a passage describing the eruption of Vesuvius in which Pliny died - and which has proven to be an outstanding early description of a pyroclastic flow.

Next time we venture underground...

Making use of geological apparatus to sieve cork and sediment from wine...

Whipple Museum - Festival of Ideas events

Can Machines Think?

Wednesday 18 October, 17:30pm - 18:30pm. Adults. Please arrive on time.

Can machines think? Philosopher and cognitive scientist Marta Halina will explore what is unique about the human mind and whether we can build machines that match or exceed our abilities.

Fakes, Mistakes and Mystery

Thursday 19th October, 17.00 - 20.00. Adults. Drop in.
Unravel the network of lies behind a series of forgeries at this interactive evening for adults and young people. Grab a glass of wine, learn how to spot a fake and uncover clues that identify criminal dealers and forgers. As in the art world, the business of creating a forgery of a historical scientific instrument is a lucrative one - who is responsible?

Curators and researchers at the Whipple have been exposing forgeries since the 1950s. At 6pm, join curator Dr. Joshua Nall to hear how research recently exposed fakes in our collection before uncovering more links in a network of forgers and dealers.

Astronomy and Empire: Curator Talk

Friday 20 October, 13.00 - 14.00. Ages 15+. Please arrive on time.

Join Curator Dr. Joshua Nall as he speaks about our newest special exhibition, Astronomy and Empire, the first exhibition to inhabit our newly refurbished Special Exhibition Gallery. Gain an understanding of the realities and practicalities of science in the field as well as an insight into how field science was employed as a method to legitimise key aspects of British colonisation.


Monday 23rd October, 11.00 - 16.00. Families, drop in.
Join detectives at the Whipple for this family hunt for fakes and forgeries in the museum galleries. Skilfully crafted instruments made by sneaky criminals have recently exposed by our top investigators - can you spot them? Learn how to spot an imposter and have a go at making your own criminal forgery to take home!

Monday, October 16, 2017

16th October - Stone

We begin our earth-based readings with a fundamental exploration of stony natural history, reading two sections from Pliny's classic text: books XXXVI ('The Natural History of Stones') and XXXVII ('The Natural History of Precious Stones'). Given the late notice of the readings, please just look at as much of the text as you can.

We'll meet from 7.30-9pm in our new venue, the Watson Gallery:
Enter the Downing Site and go to the Earth Sciences entrance below the steps to come in, ie not the museum entrance but the departmental entrance below it. If you find yourself locked out of the building, attendess can get themselves let in by waving outside the big arched ground floor windows on the Downing Site, beyond the steps with the stone bears, where the Anglo-Saxon sarcophaguses stand.
Hope to see many of you tonight!

Michaelmas Term 2017 - Earth

This term the Science and Literature Reading Group gets down to earth. We will complete our cycle of themes based on the four ancient elements by exploring how different authors have tackled terrestrial topics, from muddy slimescapes to sublime mountain-top.

We are delighted to meet in an appropriate new venue: the Watson Gallery of the Department of Earth Sciences. Many thanks to Simon Crowhurst for arranging this! Directions can be found at the bottom of this post.

All are welcome to join in our wide-ranging and friendly discussions, which take place fortnightly on Monday evenings from 7.30-9pm.

16th October - Stone

 30th October - Ground

13th November - Mountain

27th November - Mud
Read as many poems from our muddy anthology as you'd like:


Directions to the Watson Gallery:
Enter the Downing Site and go to the Earth Sciences entrance below the steps to come in, i.e. not the museum entrance but the departmental entrance below it. If you find yourself locked out of the building, attendess can get themselves let in by waving outside the big arched ground floor windows on the Downing Site, beyond the steps with the stone bears, where the Anglo-Saxon sarcophaguses stand.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Illness Reading Group

What does it mean to be ill? - A reading group on Illness

Illness, care, and medicine have taken on greater and greater importance in intellectual debates. The emergence of the medical humanities, alongside other developments, can be seen to represent this, but at a more fundamental level, illness has announced itself as an important issue across a wide range of fields. Even so, the concept of illness remains remarkably elusive and difficult to fully grasp. Indeed, one of the reasons that illness resists definition is precisely the interdisciplinary demands that come with it: as a concept it stretches and surpasses the boundaries of traditional disciplines. This reading group is designed to address this question, bringing together members of the universities from the humanities and sciences.

For Michaelmas term, we will be reading Havi Carel's book, The Phenomenology of Illness (OUP 2016). Each week, we will take a chapter from the book and use it to direct and anchor our discussions. The book can be found on Oxford Scholarship Online via iDiscover. Those interested are invited to read the introduction and first chapter for the first meeting.

Our first meeting will take place at The University Centre (right next to the Mill Pub), on the third floor from 19:00 - 20:00 on Tuesday the 17th of October. Meetings will take place weekly throughout the term. A tentative schedule is below.

All students and staff are welcome to attend. Please send an email to cf410@cam.ac.uk if you wish to be added to the mailing list for the group.

The group is collaboratively organised by members of the French, History and Philosophy of Science, and Public Health Departments.

17 October: Introduction, Ch 1 Why Use Phenomenology to Study Illness?

24 October: Ch 2 Phenomenological Features of the Body

31 October: Ch 3 The Body in Illness

7 November: Ch 4 Bodily Doubt

14 November: Ch 5 A Phenomenology of Breathlessness

21 November: Ch 6 Is Well-Being Possible in Illness?

28 November: Ch 7 Illness as Being-towards-Death, Ch 8 Epistemic Injustice in Healthcare

5 December: Ch 9 The Philosophical Role of Illness

Organisers: Joseph Wu, Rebecca Love, & Cillian Ó Fathaigh

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

CFP - BSLS Annual Conference

Oxford Brookes University, April 5-7, 2018

The thirteenth annual conference of the British Society of Literature & Science will take place at Oxford Brookes University, from Thursday 5 April until Saturday 7 April.

Keynote talks will be given by Professor Kirsten Shepherd-Barr (University of Oxford), Professor Alex Goody (Oxford Brookes University).

The BSLS invites proposals for 20-minute papers, panels of three papers or special roundtables on any subjects within the field of science, and literatures in the broadest sense, including theatre, performance, film and television. There is no special theme for this conference but abstracts or panels exploring Frankenstein’s in its bicentenary year are especially welcome as are those in the contemporary period, theatre and performance.

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.

Please send an abstract (c.200-250 words) and short biographical note to the conference organiser, Carina Bartleet, c.e.bartleet@brookes.ac.uk, by no later than 5pm GMT, Friday 8 December 2017. 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 2018.

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/renew as members of the BSLS (annual membership: £25 waged/ £10 unwaged).

Saturday, October 07, 2017

Poetry and science - call for participants

We are looking to pair up a selection of London-based scientists with local poets to develop a series of interdisciplinary performances. This is a really fun and engaging event that has previously been done in Edinburgh, Manchester, and Canterbury, and which has been of great benefit to both the poets and the researchers that have been involved.

Here is a video of the recent Edinburgh event, which should give you a good idea of the project: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xO907akIDoA

In terms of commitment, you would need to keep the following dates and times free:

Training Session @ TBC (Central London) – Saturday 11th October; 11:00 – 15:00

Performance @ Springer Nature, N1 9XW – Monday 4th December; 20:00 – 21:30

If you would like to get involved, or if you have any questions then please do get in touch with Dr Sam Illingworth, Senior Lecturer in Science Communication, Manchester Metropolitan University.

Thursday, October 05, 2017

Two film-related notices

RGS Film Archive online

The Royal Geographical Society film archive is now available, for free, on BFI Player The Society has an extensive collection of films, housed at the British Film Institute (BFI), which represent a unique record of British scientific exploration and geographical documentary film-making from 1922 to 1979. With funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund, the BFI has been digitising the Society’s film collection, and all the films are now available to watch on the BFI online player.

Cambridge Film Festival: Yellowcake, Sunday 22 October, 11am, Howard Lecture Theatre, Downing College

"Yellowcake" traces the rise and fall of the United Kingdom nuclear fission research programme, seen through its sites, archives, research programme, and consequences. Gair Dunlop has spent three years gaining unique access to a range of research sites, archives and restricted facilities. As well as physical remains, the film explores the psychic realms of the nuclear - whether as postwar dream of a post-empire future, apocalyptic terror as entertainment, or zone beyond our understandings of time.

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Sound Talking: an interdisciplinary workshop on 'language describing sound / sound emulating language'

Friday 3 November 2017, London Science Museum

Info and registration here

Sound Talking is a one-day event at the London Science Museum that seeks to explore the complex relationships between language and sound, both historically and in the present day. It aims to identify the perspectives and methodologies of current research in the ever-widening field of sound studies, and to locate productive interactions between disciplines. Bringing together audio engineers, psychiatrists, linguists, musicologists, and historians of literature and medicine, we will be asking questions about sound as a point of linguistic engagement. We will consider the terminology used to discuss sound, the invention of words that capture sonic experience, and the use and manipulation of sound to emulate linguistic descriptions. Talks will address singing voice research, the history of onomatopoeias, new music production tools, auditory neuroscience, sounds in literature, and the sounds of the insane asylum.

Speakers: - Ian Rawes (London Sound Survey) - Melissa Dickson (University of Oxford) - Jonathan Andrews (Newcastle University) - Maria Chait (UCL Ear Institute) - David Howard (Royal Holloway University of London) - Brecht De Man (Queen Mary University of London) - Mandy Parnell (Black Saloon Studios) - Trevor Cox (Salford University)

For more information, see here, or contact the workshop chairs: Melissa Dickson and Brecht De Man

Monday, September 25, 2017

CFP - ‘Games, Values and AI’

15 December 2017, Leverhulme Centre for the Future of Intelligence, University of Cambridge

This workshop aims to bring together researchers from different backgrounds to explore the philosophical and social issues raised by games as inspiration, model, testbed or context for Artificial Intelligence.

We welcome contributions from any field of research that illuminates the philosophical and social dimensions of AI in relation to games. Possible topics include (but are not limited to) the Ethics of AI and Games, Narratives of AI, Games in AI Research, Intelligence and Game-Playing and the Aesthetics and Art Theory of Games.

Deadline for submissions: 31 October 2017.

Submission format: Send a 200-300 word abstract (excluding references), prepared for anonymous review, together with separate documents containing contact details, to Rune Nyrup, subject headline: “Games, Values and AI”.Organisers: Rune Nyrup and Henry Shevlin. Further details here.

Saturday, September 23, 2017

CFP - Soirées: socialising knowledge, innovation and material culture, 1837-1924

A one-day conference at the Royal Society, London, 27 April 2018.

This event aims to explore the purpose, content, audiences and impact of Victorian and Edwardian soirées from 1837 to the British Empire Exhibition in 1924. We invite papers and posters exploring these cultures.

Soirées developed from eighteenth century salons and society ‘at homes’, and the term ‘soirée’ was increasingly used interchangeably with ‘conversazione’. By the mid-nineteenth century a typical social event included exhibitions at a learned society or civic building with associated talks or lectures. The Royal Society’s scientific conversazioni at Burlington House were the equivalent of the Royal Academy’s displays of art. They were attended by ‘literary lions, artistic celebrities, famous lecturers upon science, distinguished inventors in mechanics, discoverers of planets’ and they foregrounded ‘the very pick of the best of the most recent inventions’ (The Standard, April 1871). However, these were not purely scientific gatherings. At the Royal Society, for example, William Morris majolica tiles might be displayed alongside Australian meteorites. Celebrated artists including Gustav Doré and Lawrence Alma-Tadema showed their work. Around them, scientists, clergymen, artists and politicians networked in environments where new technologies – colour and motion photography, high-speed and novel printing techniques, film and television – held equal promise for science and the arts. Women too, were present, as exhibitors and audience. Scholars have an increasingly good grasp of the public culture of science in this period. However, the ephemeral aspects of the social activities of learned and societies, field clubs and fledgling museums, and the extent to which their activities supported organisational goals, have not been systematically researched, nor has their complex ecology of regional and national material culture, with its potential for dynamic inter-personal and inter-institutional relationships.

Contributors might consider some of the following questions:

1. What were the ambitions behind the evolving design of period soirées at the Royal Society and at other organisations at home and abroad? Did such temporary displays leave a permanent legacy in museum culture?

2. How were the contents of such displays and demonstrations determined, and what was the profile and responses of stakeholders and audiences?

3. What can be learned about how visions of the future were mobilised and materialised in the ‘pre-disciplinary’ networked cultures of innovation in soirées? Did they contribute to the development of new technologies and new disciplinary specialisms?

4. Is the demise of the soirée associated with the decline of empire? Or is it in part related to the development of mass media and new communications media?

Important information

This conference is co-organised by Professor Sandra Kemp, V&A and Keith Moore, Royal Society. Enquiries should be addressed to keith.moore@royalsociety.org

* Papers - abstract: 300 words (30 minute papers)
* Poster presentations – abstract 300 words

Deadline for abstracts: 31 October 2017

Send abstracts to: library@royalsociety.org

Authors will be notified by 14 November 2017

It is intended that, with the Editor’s agreement, papers should be included in a special issue of Notes and Records of the Royal Society<http://rsnr.royalsocietypublishing.org/>.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

CFP - Synergy and contradiction: How picturebooks and picture books work

Cambridge Research and Teaching Centre for Children's Literature

University of Cambridge, UK
September 6-8, 2018

The aesthetic aspects of storytelling through word and image have been studied extensively in the past thirty-odd years. In 1982, the Swedish scholar Kristin Hallberg launched the concept of iconotext that has been widely employed in discussing the phenomenon. Perry Nodelman's Words about Pictures (1988) was a landmark that placed the subject firmly within children's literature research. The first international conference wholly devoted to the art form was held in Stockholm in 1998, featuring, among others, Jane Doonan and William Moebius. An international network was established in 2007, running biennial conferences and workshops. Dozens of monographs and edited volumes have been published, the most recent More Words about Pictures (2017), edited by Perry Nodelman, Naomi Hamer and Mavis Reimer, and The Routledge Companion to Picturebooks (2017), edited by Bettina Kümmerling-Meibauer.

And yet there is no universal consensus about the object of inquiry, starting with the controversy of spelling. While most scholars agree that the interaction of words and images is essential, there is no clear agreement on the difference between illustrated books and picture book/picturebooks, nor on the differences and similarities between picture books/picturebooks and comics, nor on the relationship between printed and digital texts.

To celebrate the 30th anniversary since the publication of Words about Pictures and to explore the recent development in picture book/picturebook theories, Cambridge Research and Teaching Centre for Children's Literature invites paper proposals on any aspect of theoretical approaches to picture books/picturebooks as an art form. We are particularly interested in new approaches that go beyond statements that picture books/picturebooks depend on the combination of the verbal and the visual. We also welcome authors, illustrators, publishers and translators. Possible topics include, but are not restricted to:
  • Picture book/picturebook as an art form and a material object 
  • Picture books/picturebooks and other word/image-driven texts (e.g. illustrated books, picture dictionaries, concept books, artist books)
  • Metalanguage for discussing picture books/picturebooks: coming to terms
  • Theory vs. culture: how trustworthy are the semiotic generalizations of books like Words about Pictures or How Picturebooks Work in relationship to picture books/picturebooks produced in different times, places, cultures? Is there a universal language of picture books/picturebooks?
  • Picture book/picturebook design: creators' perspective
  • Is there anything beyond words and images? Picture books/picturebooks without words? Picture books/picturebooks without pictures?
  • Looking at words, seeing pictures (e.g. implications of fonts, intraiconic texts, etc)
  • Young readers' engagement with word/image storytelling: do words and pictures invite different kinds of relationships between texts and readers?
  • How have adjacent areas of research benefited from picture book/picturebook theory, for instance, digital literature, comics, graphic novels and games?
  • Translation and transmediation
We will not consider proposals on content-focused topics.

Confirmed jousters are Perry Nodelman and Maria Nikolajeva.

Deadline: January 8, 2018. 300-word (or any size image) proposals for a 20-minute paper should be sent, together with a 100-word bio, to mn351@cam.ac.uk. We also encourage panel and round-table proposals. Early indication of interest would be helpful in arranging affordable accommodation. Further inquiries to mn351@cam.ac.uk.

Please note that this conference is not a part of the Picturebook Network series

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Women on Newton: a series of lectures by women scholars about the world and legacy of Isaac Newton (1642-1727), natural philosopher

Milstein Room, University Library Cambridge
Tickets are limited: book here.


30 November 2017 (16.30-18.00) NEWTON AND THE LONGITUDE

Isaac Newton is often thought of as an isolated genius working on purely abstract scientific problems. Yet he and his work were often closely linked to practical and political worlds. Nowhere is this more clear than when we look at Newton's role in the story of finding longitude at sea, revealed in the Library's archive.

Speaker: Rebekah Higgitt

Dr Rebekah Higgitt is a Senior Lecturer in History of Science at the University of Kent. She is author of Recreating Newton (2007) and co-author of Finding Longitude (2014) and was one of the curators of the National Maritime Museum's 2014 exhibition, Ships, Clocks & Stars: The Quest for Longitude. She is currently the Principal Investigator on a research project, Metropolitan Science: Places, Objects and Cultures of Practice and Knowledge in London, 1600-1800, funded by the Leverhulme Trust and in collaboration with the Science Museum.



In 1727, Isaac Newton died without a will. In addition to a sizeable fortune and a collection of dutifully catalogued household goods (including chocolate pots, bedsteads and commemorative images of himself), he left behind of mass of papers that proved much more difficult to describe. This enormous mass of writing comprised some ten million words, most of which had never been seen by anyone other than Newton. For this, there was a very good reason. The great majority of his surviving writing is theological, concerned with excavating what Newton saw as a true history of the Church. Were the religious beliefs set down by Newton in these papers made public in his lifetime, he would have been branded a heretic. In this talk, I tell the nearly 300 hundred-year history of the papers he left behind.

Speaker: Sarah Dry

Sarah Dry is the author of The Newton Papers: The Strange and True Odyssey of Isaac Newton's Private Manuscripts (OUP, 2014). She studied at Harvard, Imperial College London and the University of Cambridge and held research fellowships at the LSE and the Institute of Development Studies, University of Sussex. She is currently writing a book about the history of water and climate science, funded by a Public Scholar grant from the US National Endowment for the Humanities. Since 2016, she has been a Trustee of the Science Museum Group.



Resembling a secular scientific saint, Isaac Newton is widely celebrated as a super-human genius disengaged from ordinary life. Regarding him from a different perspective, this lecture discusses his involvement in Enlightenment affairs and polite society, with a particular focus on analysing roles played by women.

Speaker: Patricia Fara

Dr Patricia Fara is a Fellow of Clare College and President of the British Society for the History of Science. A regular contributor to academic and popular journals as well as In our Time and other radio/TV programmes, her publications include the prize-winning Science: A Four Thousand Year History (2009) and Newton: The Making of Genius (2002). Her latest book, A Lab of One's Own: Science and Suffrage in World War One, will be published in January 2018.

Tuesday, September 05, 2017

CFP - JLS/Configurations special issue 2


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. The first instalment – JLS 10:1 – was published this year and can be read here. We now invite short papers for the second issue, to be published in 2018.

The aim of the double issue is 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 welcome papers which respond directly to pieces published in JLS 10:1, but we also preserve a more general list of suggested topics from our original call:
  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?

The editors also particularly welcome discussion of any of the following with respect to the above topics:
  • teaching and pedagogical practice
  • material culture and book history
  • the corporatization of the university
  • the current crisis in the humanities and/or economic pressures on the sciences
Submission information for the second issue:
Length of contribution: 2000 words
Deadline: December 16th, 2017

Send to: Rajani Sudan (rsudan@mail.smu.edu) & Will Tattersdill (w.j.tattersdill@bham.ac.uk)
(Decisions on inclusion in the second issue by February 2018)

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Workshop - AI and Values in Medicine and Healthcare

Centre for the Future of Intelligence
16 Mill Lane, Monday 11 September.

The purpose of the workshop is to explore potential ethical and epistemic issues related to the use of artificial intelligence and other algorithmic methods in medical contexts. The speakers are Phyllis Illari, Brent Mittelstadt, Wolfgang Pietsch and Barbare Prainsack.

Additional information and programme can be found here.

Centenary Conference: ON GROWTH AND FORM 100

13-15 October 2017
University of Dundee and University of St Andrews

2017 marks 100 years since the publication of D’Arcy Thompson’s landmark book On Growth and Form – “the greatest work of prose in twentieth century science” (Stephen Jay Gould), written by the man that Richard Dawkins recently nominated as possibly “the most learned polymath of all time”. One of the key works at the intersection of science and the imagination, it is a book that has inspired scientists, artists and thinkers as diverse as Alan Turing, C H Waddington, Claude Lévi Strauss, Norbert Wiener, Henry Moore and Mies van der Rohe. It pioneered the science of biomathematics, and has had a profound influence in art, architecture, anthropology, geography, cybernetics and many other fields.

To mark the occasion, a three-day interdisciplinary conference is being organised at the Universities of Dundee and St Andrews. It will feature a range of presentations covering every aspect of D’Arcy’s own work and the various fields that it has influenced. The conference will also include visits to the D’Arcy Thompson Zoology Museum and the Bell Pettigrew Museum of Natural History and there will be a special preview of a new exhibition exploring On Growth and Form and its legacy. We are also delighted to welcome two outstanding speakers to give the keynote lectures at the conference. These will be free and open to the public to attend.

Friday 13 October - Lars Spuybroek (NOX / Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta)
Lars Spuybroek is an internationally acclaimed Dutch architect whose practice, NOX, has become renowned for organically inspired projects. Having taught in the University of Kassel and Columbia University, he is now Professor of Architectural Design at the Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta. His lecture will discuss the implications of D’Arcy’s ideas for architecture, drawing on experiments with both analogue as well as digital computing techniques for design.

Saturday 14 October - Evelyn Fox Keller (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) (The Fauvel Lecture, supported by the British Society for the History of Mathematics)
Evelyn Fox Keller is one of the most internationally respected historians of science. A physicist, author and feminist, she is currently Professor Emerita of the History & Philosophy of Science at MIT. Beginning her career in theoretical physics, she moved on to work in molecular biology before becoming renowned for her work as a feminist critic of science. Her books include Keywords in Evolutionary Biology (1998), The Century of the Gene (2000) and Making Sense of Life: Explaining Biological Development with Models, Metaphors, and Machines (2002). The latter has a particular focus on mathematical biology and in her lecture she will discuss the legacy of D’Arcy Thompson’s work.

The venues will be as follows:
Friday 13 October – University of Dundee
Saturday 14 October – University of St Andrews
Sunday 15 October – University of Dundee

The full programme and details for registration can be found at https://www.ongrowthandform.org/conference/

We gratefully acknowledge support from the Dundee & Angus Convention Bureau for this event.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Talk - 'Lewis Carroll and Violence', Gillian Beer

The 11th Roger Lancelyn Green Memorial Lecture, Presented by The Lewis Carroll Society


Lewis Carroll and Violence

Professor Dame Gillian Beer

7.00 pm Friday 13 October 2017

The Art Workers’ Guild, 6 Queen Square, London WC1N 3AT

Tickets: £10 including a glass of wine

Professor Dame Gillian Beer will deliver the Eleventh Roger Lancelyn Green Memorial Lecture and consider the subject of violence in Lewis Carroll’s Victorian childhood classic.

Lewis Carroll’s worlds of the imagination are places of unexpectedly violent encounters: from the despotic Queen of Hearts terrorising Wonderland with threats of wholesale decapitation to those battling duos beyond the Looking-Glass, Tweedledum and Tweedledee, the Lion and the Unicorn and the Red and White Knights.

The noted British literary critic and academic, Gillian Beer – whose book, Alice in Space: The Sideways Victorian World of Lewis Carroll, has recently been awarded the Truman Capote Prize for Literary Criticism – is eminently placed to explore this topic within the context of Victorian literature and society.

Gillian Beer, educated at St Anne's College, Oxford, was a Fellow at Girton College, Cambridge, between 1965 and 1994. She began lecturing at Cambridge in 1966 and became Reader in Literature and Narrative in 1971. She was made Professor of English in 1989 and, in 1994, became King Edward VII Professor of English Literature and President of Clare Hall at Cambridge. She is a Fellow of the British Academy and a Foreign Honorary Member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

Professor Beer’s books, which encompass numerous subjects within the field of Victorian studies, include Darwin's Plots: Evolutionary Narrative in Darwin, George Eliot and Nineteenth-Century Fiction (1983, 3rd edition 2009), Virginia Woolf: The Common Ground (1996) Jabberwocky and Other Nonsense, the collected and annotated poems of Lewis Carroll (2012) and Alice in Space: The Sideways Victorian World of Lewis Carroll (2016).

Book online to reserve your seat: http://lewiscarrollsociety.org.uk/store

Tickets will also be available on the door.

The Roger Lancelyn Green Memorial Lecture was inaugurated in 1988 by The Lewis Carroll Society to commemorate the work of the noted biographer and literary scholar, Roger Lancelyn Green, whose books include works on Lewis Carroll, J M Barrie, C S Lewis, Andrew Lang and Rudyard Kipling as well the seminal book on Children’s Literature, Tellers of Tales and many books for young readers retelling classic myths and legends.

Past Roger Lancelyn Green Memorial Lecturers include Sir Jonathan Miller, CBE, John Vernon Lord, Colin Ford, CBE and Professor Morton N Cohen.

Wednesday, August 02, 2017

Call for essays: 'Gothic Animals: Uncanny Otherness and the Animal With-Out'

'The boundary between the animal and the human has long been unstable, especially since the Victorian period. Where the boundary is drawn between human and animal is itself an expression of political power and dominance, and the "animal" can at once express the deepest fears and greatest aspirations of a society' (Victorian Animal Dreams, 4).

'The animal, like the ghost or good or evil spirit with which it is often associated, has been a manifestation of the uncanny' (Timothy Clark, 185).

In the mid nineteenth-century Charles Darwin published his theories of evolution. And as Deborah Denenholz Morse and Martin A. Danahay suggest, 'The effect of Darwin's ideas was both to make the human more animal and the animal more human, destabilizing boundaries in both directions' (Victorian Animal Dreams, 2). Nineteenth-century fiction quickly picked up on the idea of the 'animal within' with texts like R.L. Stevenson's Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, Oscar Wilde's The Picture of Dorian Gray and H.G. Wells's The Island of Doctor Moreau. In these novels the fear explored was of an unruly, defiant, degenerate and entirely amoral animality lying (mostly) dormant within all of us. This was our animal-other associated with the id: passions, appetites and capable of a complete disregard for all taboos and any restraint. As Cyndy Hendershot states, this 'animal within' 'threatened to usurp masculine rationality and return man to a state of irrational chaos' (The Animal Within, 97). This however, relates the animal to the human in a very specific, anthropocentric way. Non-humans and humans have other sorts of encounters too, and even before Darwin humans have often had an uneasy relationship with animals. Rats, horses, dogs, cats, birds and other beasts have, as Donna Haraway puts it, a way of 'looking back' at us (When Species Meet,19).

Animals of all sorts have an entirely different and separate life to humans and in fiction this often morphs into Gothic horror. In these cases it is not about the 'animal within' but rather the animal 'with-out'; Other and entirely incomprehensible. These non-human, uncanny creatures know things we do not, and they see us in a way it is impossible for us to see ourselves. We have other sorts of encounters with animals too: we eat animals, imbibing their being in a largely non-ritualistic, but possibly still magical way; and on occasion, animals eat us. From plague-carrying rats, to 'filthy' fleas, black dogs and killer bunnies, animals of all sorts invade our imaginations, live with us (invited or not) in our homes, and insinuate themselves into our lives. The mere presence of a cat can make a home uncanny. An encounter with a dog on a deserted road at night can disconcert. The sight of a rat creeping down an alley carries all sorts of connotations as does a cluster of fat, black flies at the window of a deserted house. To date though, there is little written about animals and the Gothic, although they pervade our fictions, imaginations and sometimes our nightmares.

This collection is intended to look at all sorts of animals in relation to the Gothic: beasts, birds, sea-creatures, insects and domestic animals. We are not looking for transformative animals – no werewolves this time – rather we want essays on fictions about actual animals that explore their relation to the Gothic; their importance and prominence within the Gothic. We invite abstracts for essays that cover all animal/bird/insect/fish life forms, from all periods (from the early Modern to the present), and within different types of media – novels, poetry, short stories, films and games.

Topics may include (but are not bound by):

Rats (plague and death)
Dogs (black and otherwise)
Killer bunnies
Uncanny cats
Alien sea creatures
Cows (perhaps with long teeth)
Killer frogs
Beetles, flies, ants, spiders
Animals as marginalised and oppressed
Animals in peril
Animal and human intimacies and the breaking of taboos
Exotic animals/animals in colonial regions (Africa, Australia, Canada, the Caribbean, India)
Demonic animals
Dangerous animals (rabid dogs, venomous snakes)
Invasive animals
Animals and disease
Domestic animals
Uncanny animals
Animals connected to supernatural beings (Satanic goats, vampire bats)
Witchcraft and familiar spirits/animal guides
Rural versus urban animals
Sixth sense and psychic energy

Please send 500 word abstracts and a short bio note by 1 November 2017 to: Dr Ruth Heholt (ruth.heholt@falmouth.ac.uk) and Dr Melissa Edmundson (me.makala@gmail.com).

The collection is intended for the Palgrave MacMillan 'Studies in Animals and Literature' series. Completed essays must be submitted by 1 July 2018.

Friday, July 28, 2017

CFP - J.G. Ballard & the Sciences

CALL FOR PAPERS: J. G. Ballard & the Sciences
Key Note Speaker: Christopher Priest

Hosted by the Anglia Ruskin Centre for Science Fiction and Fantasy (CSFF)

Anglia Ruskin University, Cambridge, 25th November 2017.

“Science and technology multiply around us. To an increasing extent they dictate the languages in which we speak and think. Either we use those languages, or we remain mute.”  -- J. G. Ballard

From The Drowned World’s early meditations on ecology, to the provocative prosthetics of Crash, through to the psychopathologies at work (or rather play) in Cocaine Nights, Super-Cannes and Kingdom Come, the writings of J.G. Ballard are in constant dialogue with the discourses of science and technology. As a result, his novels and short stories function as vast indexes of scientific innovation and enquiry, immersing the reader in the complex yet often beautiful languages of biology, chemistry, zoology, medicine, botany, neuroscience, bioethics, anatomy, biotechnology and psychology, to name just a few.

Papers are invited for a one-day cross-disciplinary conference on all aspects of the intersections between J.G. Ballard and science. Proposals are welcomed from researchers at all stages of their career, including postgraduate students, independent scholars and creative writers.

Please send proposals or abstracts of up to 300 words along with a short biography to Jeannette Baxter: Jeannette.Baxter@anglia.ac.uk by: August 31st, 2017.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Philippa Pearce Lecture 2017

Booking is now open for the 2017 Philippa Pearce Lecture, which will be given by Chris Riddell, the celebrated, multi-award-winning illustrator and political cartoonist.

Chris has illustrated over 150 books, collaborating with some of the best known children’s authors of recent decades, including Neil Gaiman and Michael Rosen. Chris has won two CILIP Kate Greenaway Medals, the UK librarians’ annual award for the best-illustrated children’s book, and three Nestlé Smarties Book Prizes. On 9 June 2015 he was appointed the UK Children’s Laureate. During his two-year tenure, he championed creativity, the importance of visual literacy, and the role of libraries in schools. He called on people to enjoy the “joy of doodling” by drawing every day, setting the example with his own fantastic ‘Laureate’s Log’, a whimsical visual diary shared on social media, which has recently been published in a compendium called Travels with My Sketchbook. In the 2017 Philippa Pearce Lecture, Chris will talk about how words and pictures work together for a reader both on traditional page and how he believes this continues to be true in a digital age. He will explore how books are ever more covetable as objects in their own right, as well as valued for the words and illustrations inside, and also how libraries remain vital as repositories for these beautiful productions.

The lecture is entitled, The Age of the Beautiful Book and will take place on September 8th in the Mary Allan Building, Homerton College, Cambridge.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

CFP - Science Studies and the Blue Humanities

Configurations, the journal of SLSA (The Society for Literature, Science, and the Arts) is seeking submissions for a special issue on Science Studies and the Blue Humanities, edited by Stacy Alaimo. We are interested in essays, position papers, provocations, and artist statements that explore the significance of science studies for the development of the blue humanities. As oceans and bodies of fresh water increasingly become sites for environmentally-oriented arts and humanities scholarship, how can the emerging blue humanities best engage with the theories, questions, paradigms, and methods of science studies? How do questions of scale, temporality, materiality, and mediation emerge in aquatic zones and modes? How can literature, art, data visualization, and digital media best respond to the rapidly developing sciences of ocean acidification and climate change as well as the less publicized concerns such as the effect of military sonar on cetaceans? Work on postcolonial/decolonial science studies, Traditional Ecological Knowledge (TEK), indigenous sciences, and citizen science especially welcome. Please submit 5,000-7,000 word essays; 3,000 word position papers or provocations; or 2,000 word artist statements (with one or two illustrations or a link to a digital work); to Stacy Alaimo, alaimo[at]uta.edu, by February 1, 2018, for consideration. All essays will be peer-reviewed, following the standard editorial procedures of Configurations.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Dates for Michaelmas Term 2017

The John Watson Building Stones Collection: photograph by Sedgwick Museum.

Our meeting dates for next term are now fixed as Mondays 16th and 30th October, and 13th and 27th November, from 7.30-9pm. Since we will be completing our tour of the four ancient elements with a set of readings on 'Earth', we have an appropriate new venue: the Watson Gallery in the Department of Earth Sciences. Many thanks indeed to Simon for arranging this!

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Recap - Sea

Thanks to the mild summer evening, we were able to hold our last meeting of term once more on the margins of the water, in the riverside gardens of Darwin College. Marie introduced our two readings by Rachel Carson, taking us through Carson's career, the relationship between scientific practice and science-writing in the mid-twentieth century, and women in science. As the introduction to Lost Woods revealed: 'What is remarkable is not that Carson produced such a small body of work, but that she was able to produce it at all' (xi).

We thought about the literary strategies Carson employed in 'Undersea', and its similarities with and differences from 'The Edge of the Sea': her precision or vagueness, imagery and comparisons, and evocation of previous classics of scientific literature, from Lyell's Principles to Darwin's Origin. We discussed Carson's ecological and environmental awareness, and her striking early illustrations of the interconnected effects of climate change. We went on to consider what was known about the depths of the sea (or les profondeurs, in Marie's favoured terminology) at the time Carson was writing, and how new discoveries of phenomena such as hydrothermal vents have reframed our understanding of the deep as a more active and energetic place, rather than a gloomy stillness punctuated by monstrous creatures (pictures of which Marie showed us). Carson's mention of foraminifera provided Simon with an opportunity to bring along some fabulous actual and 3D-printed examples from the Department of Earth Sciences' teaching collection (photographs below).

Overall, a fantastic end to what has been a thoroughly enjoyable term's conversations on and around four marvellous readings. Next stop, Earth...