Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Exhibition - People, Politics and the International Geophysical Year

Talk - 'Lewis Carroll and Darwin'

Children's Literature Children's Lives is pleased to announce our next event:

Laura White, "Lewis Carroll and Darwin."
 Tuesday 30th May 2017 5:30 – 7pm.Room 218, Arts Two, Queen Mary University of London.

As has long been understood by scholars, Carroll's Alice books revel in complex jokes about Darwinian theory. But what did Carroll really make of Darwin's challenge to older thinking about nature, and what then are the satiric objects of his nonsensical jokes, such as the evolutionarily-challenged Mock Turtle? This presentation will examine the evidence concerning Carroll's views of Darwin and explore the nature of his jokes on Darwinian ideas.

Laura White is John E. Weaver Professor of English at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and the author of several books on Jane Austen, her last being Jane Austen's Anglicanism (Ashgate, 2011). She has also published widely on interdisciplinary topics in nineteenth-century British culture and literature, and has recently inaugurated a data-mining site on Austen's diction, Austen Said ( Her most recent book, The Alice Books and the Contested Ground of the Natural World, is forthcoming from Routledge this spring.

This event is free but please RSVP
We look forward to seeing you there!

With best regards,

Lucie and Kiera


Children's Literature/ Children's Lives

Children's Literature/ Children's Lives is part of the Centre for Childhood Cultures

8th May - River

We begin our explorations of water by discussing Alice Oswald's marvellous river-poem, Dart (2002), on Monday 8th May at Darwin College from 7.30-9pm. A version should be available online here for those with University access, and editions of the book can also be found in several College, University, and local libraries. For full details of the term's readings please see this previous post.

All welcome!

HPS Departmental Seminars, Easter Term 2017

(Group members might be particularly interested in the frog-related talk on 25th May!)

Departmental Seminars, History and Philosophy of Science
Thursdays, 3:30-5pm, HPS Seminar Room, with tea from 3pm

4 May
Heather Douglas (University of Waterloo)
The materials for trust-building in expertise

The need for expertise is undisputed in today's complex society, but what expertise is, how to identify it, and how to build trust in it is hotly contested. Some philosophers presume that experts should be trusted and provide cursory means of assessment. Other philosophers argue that only experts can identify other experts, and thus we can do nothing but trust experts and hope for the best. Still other philosophers rightly point out that experts have failed some groups of people (and been part of past injustices), so trust is something that must be earned. This debate takes place against a backdrop of an increasing rejection of expertise in Western democracies, and thus addressing these issues takes on some urgency. In this talk, I will argue that expertise consists of a fluency of judgement in a complex terrain. While such fluency cannot be transferred to non-experts quickly or easily (we cannot all become experts in everything), expertise can and should be assessed by non-experts. I will articulate plausible bases for assessment experts by non-experts, and argue that crucial trust-building materials are to be found among them.

11 May
Twenty-Second Annual Hans Rausing Lecture
Lissa Roberts (University of Twente)
The history of failure: a chronicle of losers or key to success?
McCrum Lecture Theatre, Bene't Street, at 4.30pm

18 May
Henry Cowles (Yale University)
Scientific habits circa 1900

In the decades around 1900, habits were scientific. Psychologists saw mental habits as the intersection of an evolutionary past and an experimental future, while neurologists thought that habit signaled the mind's bodily roots. This talk explores the consequences of this attention to habit in the emerging human sciences, including the idea that science itself was (or could be) habitual. The sciences of habit helped recast the scope of scientific thinking and the reach of moral judgement, as issues of choice, willpower and belonging were naturalized in new ways.

25 May
Lydia Patton (Virginia Tech)
Frogs in space: physiological research into metric relationships and laws of nature

A surprising amount of research into theories of space and time in the nineteenth century involved experiments done on frogs' reactions to stimuli. William James and Hugo Munsterberg performed classic such experiments, but there was a much broader group involved. Those who cited the research and used it in their discussions of spatial relationships, and of the relationship between physiological and metric space, include Henri Poincaré and Ernst Mach. Hermann von Helmholtz used experiments on frogs to establish a number of his most important results, including the claim that sensations are not propagated instantaneously but take time to propagate along a nerve. Helmholtz used other experiments on frogs to argue against the existence of a vital force, a key element of his proof of the conservation of force (energy), and a turning point in nineteenth-century physiology and medicine. Frogs mediated between the physiological and the metric: in theories of space and movement, and in theories of metabolism, energy and sensation. The formulation of well-known scientific laws during this time sprang from physiological as well as physical reasoning, and the domain of application of those laws extended to living bodies as well as to inert physical masses. Philosophers who argued that spatiotemporal relationships are fundamental to all sciences, like Cassirer and arguably Poincaré, were drawing on this history in part. The history of amphibious research forms part of the background to accounts of scientific law, like Wigner's and Mach's, that draw on evolution, perception and consciousness, including Wigner's controversial argument that consciousness collapses the wave function.

For more information on this series, please visit the website.

Event - 'STEM and Beyond? Informal Science Learning Across Disciplines'

Brunel University London, Friday 19th May.

We have fifteen presentations on STEM Communication, STEM and the arts, and STEM, social science and interdisciplinarity, including a keynote from Prof Martin Bauer (LSE).

Tickets are free but numbers are limited and registration is essential. Please register via the Eventbrite.

Further information can also be found on the Science in Public Research Network page.

Contact including STEM in the subject for further information.

Monday, April 24, 2017

Cabinet of Natural History, Easter Term 2017

Group members might be particularly interested in Mark Wormald's talk on 8 May, 'Poetic electrons: Ted Hughes and the mayfly'. Abstract here:
In 1981, the artist Leonard Baskin wrote to the poet Ted Hughes with a list of fifteen projected poems about insects that would feature in their next collaboration. It began with ‘The Mayfly’. A poem with that title appeared in London Magazine in 1983, but was never collected. The central poem in Flowers and Insects (1986) which Baskin illustrated, ‘Saint’s Island’, incorporates several phrases and insights first used in ‘The Mayfly’. And in 1993 Hughes published ‘The Mayfly is Frail’, in a revised text of his collection River (first published in 1983).
This paper describes Hughes’s education in the mayfly. Like its subject, it had a long and hidden larval stage, but took memorable flight in a fishing trip to Ireland in May 1982, which ended at Saint's Island on Lough Ree. Two remarkable prose accounts of this trip are among Hughes’ papers in the British Library. Between them they shape a visionary narrative, beginning with an Oxford tutorial in entomology from his son Nicholas, and detailing Hughes’s attempts, in the company of a group of fanatical Irish fishermen, to catch lough trout on imitations of its dun, or Green Drake, and spinner, or Spent. The poetry that emerged from this experience is faithful to these circumstances but also transcends them, offering a powerful vision of ecological interconnection not just to lovers of poetry but to all those concerned for the health of our rivers and lakes.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Hans Rausing Lecture - The History of Failure

22nd Annual Hans Rausing Lecture

The History of Failure: A chronicle of losers or key to success?

By Lissa Roberts, Professor of Long Term Development of Science and Technology, University of Twente

Thursday 11 May 2017, McCrum Lecture Theatre, Bene't Street, Cambridge

4pm tea and biscuits in the foyer of the McCrum. The lecture will start at 4.30pm.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Call for proposals - BSLS Winter Symposium

At the AGM last week BSLS members agreed to trial the Winter Symposium as a postgraduate-led event. It is anticipated that this event would have a specific theme, and might also cover research training and career advice alongside showcasing ongoing research. As always, it is hoped that the event will have a 'non-conference' feel, and include different types of papers, panels, and ways of sharing knowledge. The BSLS Committee will support the conference organisers throughout the process, helping those with little experience to host a successful event. Proposals are invited from postgraduates, and from early career researchers who were recently postgraduates, for a themed one-day event to take place in or about November, to be emailed to Rosalind Alderman ( by 1 June 2017. Proposals should be no longer than two-sides of A4, and should include a theme and description, details of the organising group and location, potential speakers (if known) and types of papers, panels or other sessions to be included. The BSLS will award up to £500 in support of the symposium, which should be free to attend if possible.

CFP - 'Theatrical Ecologies and Environments in the Nineteenth Century'

One Day Symposium
University of Warwick
Saturday, 1 July 2017
Millburn House
School of Theatre, Performance and Cultural Policy Studies

Ecocriticism is a hot topic in both Theatre Studies and Nineteenth-Century Studies, yet the environment is still an under-examined area within nineteenth-century theatre circles. This symposium aims to cultivate more work on this field of research pioneered by Baz Kershaw. Possible topics could include: ecological research in practical stagecraft (how nineteenth-century practitioners created sets, costumes, and effects to represent different environments), theater architecture (such as the Palais Garnier and its "lake" or the use of Thames water for hydraulic bridges and iron curtains), environmental theatre set in outdoor venues such as nineteenth-century pleasure gardens, site-specific theatre, the impact of Victorian theatre and early film on the environment, the creation of fantastical or alternative world environments (as in pantomime), the ecology of theaters (cityscapes, economic conditions, contagion), ecological themes or images within plays, plays invoking nature or the artifice of avoiding nature, theatrical connections to historical ecological movements, ecological links between theater and other arts, the ecology of performance, environmental adaptation (in terms of Linda Hutcheon's argument that adaptation from one medium to another is akin to biological adaptation), animal performers, human actors performing animals, the economic ecology of production (in terms of a Darwinian market selection), theatrical and early cinematic statements about the environment, theatre and world ecologies. There are myriad possibilities, and it is the aim of the symposium organizers to be inclusive.

We invite the submission of abstracts on any topic connected to Theatrical Ecologies and Environments in the Nineteenth Century. The symposium is curated by the editors of Nineteenth Century Theatre and Film: Professor Jim Davis, Dr Janice Norwood, Dr Pat Smyth and Professor Sharon Aronofsky Weltman.

Please submit abstracts for consideration to by 1 May, 2017.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

BSLS/JLS - Early Career Essay Prize 2017

Screening - 'Donna Haraway: Story Telling for Earthly Survival'

Fri 12 May 2017, 18:30 - 20:30
Lecture Theatre, Frayling Building, Royal College of Art, London SW7 2EU

Donna Haraway is a prominent scholar, a vivid and unique thinker in the field of science and technology, a feminist, and a writer whose work bridges science and fiction. Well known since the 1980s for her work on gender, identity and technology, Haraway has stimulated a blooming discourse on trans-species feminism. A gifted storyteller who paints pictures of a rebellious and hopeful universe populated with critters and futuristic trans species in an era of disaster, Haraway provokes new ways of reconfiguring our relation to the Earth and all its inhabitants. Brussels-based filmmaker Fabrizio Terranova visted Haraway in her home in California, spending two weeks in her company to produce an unconventional film portrait. Terranova's approach allowed Haraway to speak in her own environment, while using attractive staging that emphasized the playful and cerebral sensitivity of the scientist. The result is a rare and candid portrait of one of the most daring and original thinkers of our time.

Lizzy Kane and Jules Varnedoe will be in discussion with Fabrizio Terranova prior to the screening.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Exhibition - 'Women of Mathematics throughout Europe'

Cambridge Centre for Mathematical Sciences, the Isaac Newton Institute and the Betty and Gordon Moore library are proud to take part in the ‘Women of Mathematics throughout Europe’ portrait exhibition.

The Women of Mathematics’ exhibition celebrates female mathematicians from institutions throughout Europe, and this special expanded exhibition is supplemented with portraits and interviews featuring local female mathematicians from Cambridge University’s Faculty of Mathematics. The portraits will be on display in the Isaac Newton Institute and in the Core of the mathematics building from Tuesday 25th April, and in the Betty and Gordon Moore Library following the exhibition. See for more information around the exhibition.

The exhibition opens TUESDAY 25TH APRIL at 3.30PM, featuring talks by Cambridge mathematicians Professor Anne Davis, Dr Holly Krieger, and Dr Carola-Bibiane Schönlieb. Following the talks will be a panel discussion on issues affecting women in mathematics and a drinks reception, with a chance to network whilst viewing the exhibition.

Women in Mathematics at Cambridge: 25 April 2017, 3.30-7pm Centre for Mathematical Sciences, University of Cambridge

3.30pm Coffee & registration

4.15pm Opening of the exhibition by Heads of Department Prof Gabriel Paternain and Prof Nigel Peake

4.30pm Mathematical talks: Prof Anne Davis, Dr Holly Krieger, and Dr Carola-Bibiane Schönlieb

5.30pm Panel discussion chaired by Dr Christie Marr

6.00pm Drinks reception

The talks will be aimed at a general public audience and all are welcome. The exhibition is free and open to all; for tickets please visit

Talk - 'A Place of One's Own in Mathematics'

Building up a career in mathematics is still very tricky for women. Inspired by Virginia Woolf who claimed that having a room of one’s own is essential for women writers, we shall analyse some of the obstacles that can prevent a woman from finding a place of her own in the world of mathematics.

Sylvie Paycha (University of Potsdam)

Thursday 27 April 2017, 16:00-17:00, Center for Mathematical Sciences, MR 4.

To find out more please visit

CFP - 'Travel, Translation and Communication'

The Victorian Popular Fiction Association's 9th Annual Conference: 'Travel, Translation and Communication'

19th-21st July 2017, Institute of English Studies, Senate House, London

Keynote Speakers:
  • Anne-Marie Beller (Loughborough)
  • Mary Hammond (Southampton)
  • Catherine Wynne (Hull)
Exhibition – 'Picturing The Mass Market: Popular Late Victorian Periodicals' Curated by John Spiers
Reading Group – 'Travels of the Mind and Body' Hosted by Chloé Holland and Anne-Louise Russell

Call for Papers

The Victorian Popular Fiction Association is dedicated to fostering interest in understudied popular writers, literary genres and other cultural forms, and to facilitating the production of publishable research and academic collaborations amongst scholars of the popular. Our annual conference is integral to this aim and brings together academics with interests in Victorian popular writing, culture and contexts. The conference has a reputation for offering a friendly and invigorating opportunity for academics at all levels of their careers, including postgraduate students, to meet, connect, and share their current research.

The organisers invite a broad, imaginative and interdisciplinary interpretation of the topic and its relation to any aspect of Victorian popular literature and culture which might address literal or metaphorical representations of the theme.

We welcome proposals for 20 minute papers, or for panels of three papers, on topics which can include, but are not limited to:
  • Textual travel: syndication (national and international), railway bookstalls, Mudie's boxes, international/colonial editions (Tauchnitz), international copyright, piracy, serial publication / triple decker / single volume
  • Genre crossings: Realism, melodrama, sensation, detective, adventure, science and speculative fiction, fiction/non-fiction, high to low brow
  • Forms of communication: verbal, technological (telegraphs), written, epistemological, spiritualism, telepathy, mesmerism
  • Translation: languages, adaptation, cultural adaptation, Neo-Victorianism, intertextuality, metatextuality
  • Migration: transportation, immigration, expatriotism, diaspora, empire, race and colonialism, slave narratives, agency, freedom, dislocation
  • Tourism: Grand Tours, leisure cruise ships (P&O), watering holes, accommodation, sanatoriums, travel writing, holiday reading, the seaside, cosmopolitanism
  • Trade and commerce: money, speculation, business, postal service
  • Crossing boundaries: North and South, border controls, diplomatic exchanges, Europe, America, globally
  • Transport: trains, trams, buses, ships, bicycles, carriages, on foot (flâneur, voyeur)
  • Travel plans: maps, cartography, Bradshaw's Guides, packing, travel diaries
  • Religious movements: pilgrimage, religious processions
  • Communication between the classes: class mobility, exploring other classes (Dickens, Mayhew, etc), reform literature
  • Communication between genders: Romance literature, secrets and lies, miscommunication
  • Education and transmission of knowledge: lectures, Working Men's Clubs, conduct literature, temperance movement, pedagogical approaches, journalism, exposés
  • Movement and performance: travelling fairs, the circus, touring theatrical companies, cross dressing
  • Travels in time, space and place: histories, time travel, reincarnation, transmigration, space travel, journeys to the centre of the earth
  • Life stages: birth, ageing, death, crossroads, mobility and immobility
  • Digital humanities: travel and space intersections, network analysis, flow modelling, GIS-based research
Special topic panels: Following our successful formula, we are continuing the special panels which will be hosted by guest experts; therefore we especially welcome papers about the following topics:
  • Topic 1: Transport, hosted by Charlotte Mathieson
  • Topic 2: The Sea and the Seaside, hosted by Joanne Knowles
  • Topic 3: Travel and Archives, hosted by Nickianne Moody

Please send proposals of no more than 300 words and a 50 word biography in Word format to Drs Janine Hatter, Helena Ifill and Jane Jordan.

Deadline for proposals: Friday 28th April 2017