Friday, September 13, 2019

The Science and Literature Reading Group will be taking a break for the 2019-20 academic year, but we hope to organise some one-off events - watch this space!

Monday, July 15, 2019

Davy Notebooks Project

Join in the Davy Notebooks Project and help transcribe these important sources for anyone interested in science and literature.

About the project:


Sir Humphry Davy (1778-1829) was perhaps the most famous chemist of the nineteenth century. This project aims to transcribe five of Davy’s early notebooks, which show his experiments in both chemistry and poetry.

The notebooks selected for this pilot run reveal how Davy’s mind worked and how his thinking developed. Containing details of his scientific experiments, poetry, geological observations, travel accounts, and personal philosophy, Davy's notebooks present us with a wide range of fascinating insights. Many of the pages of these notebooks have never been transcribed before. By transcribing these notebooks, we will find out more about the young Davy, his life, and the cultures and networks of which he was part.

The transcriptions produced by Zooniverse participants, and images of the manuscript pages, will later be published online on a custom-built, open access website, providing unprecedented access to these important historical documents. All individual participants will be given the option to be listed in the Acknowledgements section of the Davy Notebooks Project website. This is entirely optional, and at the sole discretion of each individual participant.
We hope that transcribers will also take part in the next run of our FutureLearn Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) ‘Humphry Davy: Laughing Gas, Literature, and the Lamp’. You will be able to sign up to this course at the end of July and the four-week course will begin on 28 October 2019.

Davy’s Notebooks in the RI

The RI holds an important collection of seventy-one unpublished notebooks written by Davy. Davy held several positions at the RI (Director of the Laboratory, 1801-25; Professor of Chemistry, 1802-12; Honorary Professor, 1813-23) and did his most important research there. The current run of the Davy Notebooks Project is intended as a pilot: we aim to transcribe five notebooks between June-September 2019. If successful, the project will later be expanded, and further notebooks will be transcribed.

Monday, July 08, 2019

Cavendish film screening


The Cavendish Research Staff Committee presents:

Free screening of the Award-Winning Film:


Along with a discussion with expert panelists:

Dr Maurice Chiodo - Centre for Mathematical Sciences 
Dr Jennifer Cobbe - Cambridge University's Trust & Technology Initiative
Dr Kanta Dihal - Leverhulme Centre for the Future of Intelligence
Friday, July 12th, 18.30
Small Lecture Theater, Cavendish Laboratory 

This is the first event in a series which will address topics concerning ethics in science and how new technologies might impact society.

On our opening event, we will start by trying to tackle some of the more general and thorny questions such as: "Is it the scientists' responsibility to consider the ethical implications of their work?", "Have scientific progress and technological developments failed us?", and "How do we decide what is good for society?"

We will explore these questions with the help of guest panelists, the screening of the Award-winning docufilm Three Identical Strangers by DogWoof productions, and interactive audience participation.

Vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free food will be provided. Please email us at if you have any other dietary restrictions.

Guests and family members are welcome!
You are encouraged to register for the event here

The Cavendish Laboratory Research Staff Committee

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Campaign to save Charles Lyell's notebooks

Charles Lyell (1797 - 1875) is well known for his part in the Darwinian evolutionary debates, his travels to America and his role in convincing readers of the significance of 'deep time'. During the past decade, Lyell's geographical theory of climate and his subdivisions of recent geological periods have gained renewed attention in connection with discussions of climate change and the Anthropocene. The Lyell archive is almost certainly the most important manuscript collection relating to nineteenth century science still in private hands. At its core are 294 notebooks, which provide a daily record of Lyell's private thoughts, reading notes, travels, field observations and conversations from the mid-1820s to his death half a century later.

In order for the family to meet inheritance tax, the Lyell notebooks were sold to an unknown foreign buyer towards the end of last year. Fortunately, the UK government has imposed a temporary export ban to enable fundraising to purchase these remarkable documents, conserve them, and make them available on-line for free to the public. The University of Edinburgh Library, which already has the largest collection of Lyell material, is organizing the campaign. The website for this became active at the end of last week. The sum required is £1,444,000; major donors have already pledged more than a third of the total needed.

The temporary export ban has an initial deadline of 15th July, so time is extremely short. If significant progress is made, then it may be extended until 15th October. Therefore, all who are interested are asked to pledge a donation, which will only be collected when the required amount is achieved. For more information about the notebooks and to make a pledge, please click on If you, your students and friends can give anything to this campaign--even five pounds or a pound--it will make a big difference, not least in showing larger donors that there is substantial public interest and concern. It would be great if we can get the donor count over 1000.

I'd appreciate it if you could pass on this message to anyone who might be interested, and to any other relevant lists.

Jim Secord (
Professor of History and Philosophy of Science
Director, Darwin Correspondence Project
University of Cambridge

Wednesday, June 05, 2019

10th June - The Periodic Table

In recognition of the International Year of the Periodic Table, the Science and Literature Reading Group is teaming up with AD HOC (Association for the Discussion of the History of Chemistry) for a special seminar on Primo Levi's classic piece of science-writing, The Periodic Table.

We will meet on Monday 10th June at 5pm, in the Department of History and Philosophy of Science.

  • Primo Levi (1919-87), The Periodic Table (1975): ‘Potassium’, ‘Nitrogen’, ‘Carbon’. 
Contact Melanie if you would like a copy of the chapters, as well as the introduction by Philip Roth to the Penguin edition.

All welcome!

Friday, May 31, 2019

4th June - Heavens and earth

Please note new date and venue

We will meet at Homerton College at 5pm on Tuesday 4th June at for the fourth in this term's series of Science and Literature Reading Group sessions on texts published 100 years ago in 1919. Please meet at the Porters' Lodge on Hills Road.

We will focus on poems about the heavens and earth:
 All welcome!

Job - Research Associate, 'The Scientific Conference: A Social, Cultural, and Political History'

Postdoctoral Research Associate, 11 months full time

Salary range: £37,912 rising to £43,333

Start date: 1 September or as soon as possible thereafter

Closing date for applications: 30 June 2019

The Department of History at Birkbeck College, University of London, invites applications for a full-time Post-Doctoral Research Associate post for 11 months, to work with Dr Jessica Reinisch as part of a new HERA project on The Scientific Conference: A Social, Cultural, and Political History 
The project explores the evolution of scientific and medical conferences as public spaces where knowledge is defined and exchanged, communities are shaped, and international relations are performed. We will trace the history of their emergence and development over the long twentieth century, study their various forms, and identify their inclusionary and exclusionary effects.
Project partners are Professor S. E. W. Widmalm (Uppsala University, Sweden), Dr Jessica Reinisch (Birkbeck), Dr Charlotte Bigg (Centre Alexandre Koyré, France), Dr Geert Somsen (Maastricht University, Netherlands). UK-based Associate Partners include the Science Museum and Royal Observatory Greenwich.

The Post-Doctoral Research Associate will assume responsibility for a case study that contributes to the project strand on 'Scientific and medical experts and the conferences of international organisations, ca. 1920 – 1965'. The case study will be based on archival research and will help to shed light on the nature, work and impact of scientific experts at the conferences of international organisations in the interwar, war and post-war decades. Research questions for this project strand include:
  • What roles did scientific and medical experts perform at these conferences, and with what results?
  • Of what significance were the locations and formats of the conferences?
  • How important were these organisations' conferences to their programmes, mandates, self-representation and public perception?
  • To what extent and by what means did these conferences give rise to a new 'public sphere' for internationalists of the post-war era, complete with their own language and cultural practices?
  • In what formal and informal ways did conferences reflect and shape international relations and wider geopolitical realities?
The Post-Doctoral Research Associate's work is expected to lead to academic publications.
In addition to research on the case study, the Post-Doctoral Researcher will be involved in all aspects of the project and Birkbeck's Centre for the Study of Internationalism so as to gain valuable professional and intellectual experience.

Applicants must have, or expect to obtain shortly, a PhD with a specialisation in modern history, the history of science, technology and medicine or related field. Prior experience of conducting archive research is essential, as is the ability to work in a team. Working knowledge of a relevant language other than English is highly desirable. A commitment to distributing academic knowledge widely and accessible is highly desirable, as is a demonstrable interest and track record in the themes and facets of the project.

The position is based in London but will require travel to the relevant archives. Research expenses for these trips are included in the post.

The position will start on 1 September 2019 or as soon as possible thereafter.

To apply, please click on apply below and provide a CV, a research statement of up to 1,000 words, and a statement explaining how your background and interests fit the position's requirement.


Grade 7 of the College's London Pay Scale which is £37,912 rising to £43,333 per annum.
The salary quoted is on the College's London Pay Scale which includes a consolidated Weighting/Allowance which applies only to staff whose normal contractual place of work is in the Greater London area.


If you would like to know more about the role please click on apply below or contact Dr Jessica Reinisch, via

If you have technical issues or difficulties using the recruitment portal please contact, providing your name and the job reference number of the position.
While we are happy to respond to all informal enquiries, only formal applications through the online system will be considered.

Birkbeck offers a competitive salary & pension scheme, 31 days paid leave, flexible working arrangements & some of the most generous benefits in the HE sector, all while being located right in the heart of Central London with access to all its facilities.

We welcome applicants from all sections of the community. The College is committed to improving the gender & cultural diversity of its workforce, holding an Athena SWAN award, membership of WISE, operating Disability Confident & Mindful Employer schemes.

Interviews will take place on 12 July 2019.

To apply, please find the application portal here.

Tuesday, May 28, 2019

Talk - 'Children's Literature and Environmental Citizenship'

The Queen Mary based research cluster Children's Literature Children's Lives is delighted to announce an extra event this June.

Karen Kilcup, "Dare Boldly": Children's Literature and Environmental Citizenship

Thursday 13 June 5 - 7pm, Arts Two Room 217, Queen Mary University of London.Nineteenth-century American children couldn't vote, but the period's writers envisioned them possessing alternative agency: intervening to prevent animal cruelty, encouraging elders' conservation and preservation efforts, and even helping advance environmental justice.
In this paper Professor Kilcup will explore the work of writers from Lydia Maria Child and Harriet Beecher Stowe to Theodore Roosevelt and W. E. B. Du Bois, who imagined a future that children could not simply enter, but actively shape.

Karen Kilcup is Professor of English, Environmental & Sustainability Studies, and Women's & Gender Studies at the University of North Carolina, Greensboro.

No need to book.
We look forward to seeing you there.

Sunday, May 26, 2019

Talk - The 'Ecology of Form'

The Nineteenth Century Graduate Seminar will meet for its third and final session of the Easter term at 5pm on Thursday 30 May, in the Faculty of English Board Room. Our speaker will be Devin Griffiths (University of Southern California), who will speak on the topic of 'The Ecology of Form'; abstract below.
All are most welcome to attend both the discussion and the informal drinks at the Granta afterwards.

'The Ecology of Form'

I'll be talking about Charles Darwin and what we might call the anthropology of plants. Starting with his work on orchids in the 1850s, Darwin was fascinated by plants that suggest a deep continuity between animal and plant life, and he developed a sophisticated array of techniques that allowed him to establish dialogues with their behavior. As a case study, I'll be taking Darwin's late work, The Power of Movement in Plants (1880) in which he developed tools of synchronization, or "entrainment," that allowed plants to write themselves into his work. I'll be using this example to explore how such tools produce a form of collective authorship in which the objects of natural study contribute to their own investigation, a way of voicing nature in scientific publication. My aim is to sketch out a late feature of Darwin's ecological research program, part of a wider effort to study Darwin's importance as an ecologist, and as a process philosopher. But I'm also interested in how that labor becomes visible through, and indeed, is organized by, specific textual forms, here, not simply scientific publication, but experiments in what we might term plant graphology and the printing of plant life, and I'll conclude by discussing the afterlife of these experiments in scientific publication.

Devin Griffiths is Associate Lecturer at the University of Southern California, and author of The Age of Analogy (Johns Hopkins UP, 2016)

Friday, May 17, 2019

Talk - The Cambridge Philosophical Society and the invention of science 1819-2019

6-7pm, Wednesday 12 June

Milstein Seminar Rooms, Cambridge University Library

Free, all welcome. Booking required:

Today, Cambridge is recognised as a world-leading centre for science, but it wasn’t always so. Dr Susannah Gibson discusses how science in Cambridge developed thanks to the work of the Cambridge Philosophical Society, and tells of the ground-breaking research presented at its meetings over the last 200 years, from Charles Darwin’s Beagle letters to Lawrence Bragg’s x-ray crystallography.

20th May - Health

The third meeting of term will take place in the Newnham Grange Seminar Room at Darwin College from 7.30-9pm on Monday 20th May.

We will continue our theme of texts from 1919 with a pair of readings on 'Health':

All welcome!

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Talk - Early Modern History of Data and Epistemology of Form

The second CamPoS seminar of Easter term will be given by Aaron Hanlon <>, Assistant Professor of English at Colby College. Details as follows:

Time: Wednesday 15 May, 1-2:30pm

Place: Seminar Room 2, Department of History and Philosophy of Science (Free School Lane, CB2 3RH)

Title: Early Modern History of Data and Epistemology of Form.

Abstract: This talk examines several contexts in which the word 'data' entered the English language in the seventeenth century, and how the usage contexts of the term evolved over the course of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. A parallel discussion will consider the various forms of evidence privileged within and sometimes across different knowledge domains during the same historical period: Robert Hooke's illustrations, William Petty's interpolated figures, Joseph Priestley's charts, Margaret Cavendish's narrative structures, Abraham Cowley's verse, and others. The talk will address the question of why 'data' was used to describe some forms of evidence and not others as the concept took on life in early modern Britain, as well as why some forms of evidence carried more epistemological weight than others. This history of 'data' and forms of evidence will then (I hope!) provide a useful context for examining various ongoing assumptions about the credibility of some forms of evidence over others.

Full information about the talk is here:
The term card for Easter 2019 is available at

You can also follow us at

Tuesday, April 30, 2019

13th May - Cities


Our second meeting of term will take place in the Newnham Grange Seminar Room at Darwin College from 7.30-9pm on Monday 13th May.

We will continue our theme of texts from 1919 with a pair of readings on 'Cities':
All welcome! 

Monday, April 29, 2019

Workshop - Temporalities in Scientific Narratives

Does Time Always Pass? Temporalities in Scientific Narratives
May 30-31 2019 LSE/Royal Institution, London

Workshop organised as a collaboration between the Narrative Science Project and The Royal Institution.

Venue: The Royal Institution, Albemarle Street, London W1S 4BS. We anticipate starting at 10:00 (with coffee available from 09.30) on the 30th and ending by 17.30 on the 31st. Organised by Prof. Mary S. Morgan and Dr. Andrew Hopkins

The standard view of narrative is inextricably bound up with the passage of time. Narrative scholars are convinced that time is an essential element in any narrative, and it has been thought equally essential, though treated in different ways, by philosophers of history. But exactly how to think about time in the narratives of science is not self-evident. And if we look at how scientists use time in narratives, we see a number of different ways in which it is taken into account and is deployed. In this workshop, the focus will be on the different temporalities in narratives as they occur in scientific discourses. The obvious loci for such explorations are what are generally referred to as the historical sciences, that is, those that seek to reconstruct the past on the basis of what can be observed in the present. However, time and its narrative expression are to be found in a wide variety of places, some of which will be explored by the speakers at the workshop. Throughout the workshop, the question of how essential time is to narrative will remain open for argument.

We are grateful to the financial contributions and contributions in kind from the European Research Council and the Royal Institution. If you would like to express interest in attending please contact Dr Dominic Berry. The number of places is unfortunately limited, so please make sure to write to us sooner rather than later. The deadline for expression of interest is Friday May 17. We will notify those we are able to accommodate shortly thereafter.

Speakers and titles:

  • Norton Wise (UCLA) - Faraday's lines of force and the temporality of serial narration 
  • John Beatty (UBC, Vancouver) - When you can't get there from here: The importance of temporal order in evolutionary biology and ecology 
  • Dorothea Debus (Universität Konstanz) - Memory, imagination and narrative 
  • Paula Olmos (Universidad Autónoma de Madrid) - Narratives in scientific argument and explanation 
  • Rosa Hardt (OPEN Scotland) - Narrative Understanding: Parts, Wholes, and Recombinable Systems 
  • William Matthews (LSE, London) - Time and ethnographic generalisation in anthropology: an example from Chinese divination 
  •  John Huss (University of Akron, Ohio) - Mass extinction, narrative closure, and evidence 
  • Teru Miyake (NTU, Singapore) - Temporal detail and evidence in seismic source reconstruction 
  • Anne Teather (University of Manchester) - Stored and storied time in the Neolithic 
  • Elspeth Jajdelska (University of Strathclyde) - Do we always need a timeline? The roles of temporal sequence in art narratives and science narratives 
  • Thomas Bonnin (University of Exeter) - Explaining the origin of eukaryotic cells between narratives and mechanisms 
  • Tirthankar Roy (LSE, London) - Technological change in the Indian textile industry (title TBC) 
  • Daniel Pargman (KTH, Stockholm) - Using allohistorical narratives to envision alternative energy futures 
  • Andrew Hopkins (LSE, London) - Alfred Wegener's arguments for continental drift: A consillience of narrative explanations

PhD travel bursaries

To increase participation from the postgraduate community, we are making available 4 travel bursaries, each of a maximum of £250. These can be used to recover the cost of train or airfare for those who wish to attend, and who are currently enrolled on a PhD programme, preferably with research interests directly related to the workshop agenda. To apply for a PhD travel bursary please write to Dr Dominic Berry. Please include: * Your name * University Affiliation * PhD Programme and thesis title * And no more than 100 words on how this workshop relates to your research. The deadline for applications to the travel bursary is Monday May 13. You will be notified as to the outcome of your application shortly thereafter. Applicants will be selected to ensure a diverse range of research interests and institutions are represented.

Tuesday, April 09, 2019

Talk - Cambridge Bibliographical Society

"Spiritus anima" – an unrecorded seventeenth-century alchemist's library at Clare College, Cambridge

Ed Potten (University of York) and  Dr Tim Chesters (Modern & Medieval Languages, University of Cambridge)

Wednesday 1 May, 2019, 5.00pm (tea from 4.30pm)

Milstein Seminar Rooms, University Library

The identity of the annotator of a collection of extraordinary seventeenth-century alchemical manuscripts, now in the Sloane Collection, has long eluded scholars. The recent discovery of a collection of sixty printed books in the Fellows' Library at Clare College, Cambridge, all annotated in the same characteristic hand, utilizing the same complex system of cross-referencing and the same approach to organizing and recording knowledge, casts new light on the Sloane annotator, his methods and his identity. Ed Potten (University of York, and formerly Head of Rare Books at the University Library) and Dr Tim Chesters (Modern & Medieval Languages, University of Cambridge) will share their discoveries about this enigmatic annotator, accompanied by a display of books.

Thursday, April 04, 2019

Public seminar series - Narrative Science - Apr-Jun 2019 - London

If you would like to be reminded of these seminars in advance, or would like to keep up-to-date with the Narrative Science project (including our upcoming workshops, working papers and publications) please join our mailing list via

  • Neil Tarrant - The Roman Index and Arnald of Villanova: The Rejection of Albert the Great’s Astrology
  • Heike Hartung - Longevity Narratives: From Life Span Optimism to Statistical Panic

  • Sally Horrocks and Paul Merchant - Scientists’ narratives in An Oral History of British Science
  • Sarah Dillon - “The Ineradicable Eliza Effect and Its Dangers”: Weizenbaum, Pygmalion and the Implications of Gendering AI 

  • Emily Hayes - Fashioned in the light of physics: the scope and methods of Halford Mackinder's geography
  • Dominic Berry - Biological engineering as genre

  • Veronika Lipphard - Ethnicizing isolation: How narratives guide genetic research in vulnerable populations
  • Will Tattersdill - What if dinosaurs survived? Or, reading alternate natural history in science fiction and non-fiction of the late twentieth century

Tuesday, April 02, 2019

29th April - Gardens

The Science and Literature Reading Group returns in our usual time and place for Easter Term, reading texts written a century ago in 1919.

Our first meeting will take place in the Newnham Terrace Seminar Room at Darwin College, from 7.30-9pm on Monday 29th April.

We will be reading several works which explore the cultivation, meanings, and magic of actual, artistic, and fantastical gardens:
All welcome! 

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Celebrating the Periodic Table - exhibition at Catz

The United Nations have proclaimed 2019 to be the International Year of the Periodic Table of Chemical Elements since it is the 150th anniversary of the publication of Dmitri Mendeleev's first Periodic Table. But was it really the first? St Catharine's College is proud to exhibit its fine collection of material relating to the early development of the Periodic Table. Starting from the first list of elements which emerged around the time of the French Revolution in the late 1780s, and the first list of atomic masses drawn up by Manchester chemist John Dalton, we explore why six different chemists from around the world each came up with their own versions of the iconic table in the 1860s.

The very first person to arrange all the then-known elements by mass and then look for the repeating properties of related elements was the French mineralogist Alexandre-Émile Béguyer de Chancourtois in 1862. Béguyer plotted his elements around a cylinder or helix with a circumference of sixteen atomic mass units and found elements with similar properties aligned in vertical groups down the cylinder. This coloured chart, over 1.5 metres in length, was published in very limited numbers and is now incredibly rare.
In addition to Mendeleev's first published versions of his table, including one signed by the great chemist himself, earlier forms created by two British chemists are also featured. Samples of many of the elements are also exhibited in the window bays, together with some of their applications from our everyday lives.

Two new works of art specially created to mark this important anniversary will also be on display. One is the St Catharine's Periodic Spiral, based on a design from 1920 and crafted in silver. This was completed on March 11, when Professor Yuri Oganessian, the only living person with an element named after him, added his element tile at a ceremony in the McGrath centre. The other remarkable piece is a Periodic Table of Orbitals made out of laser-etched crystal glass showing how electrons are arranged in atoms and which underpins the structure of the Periodic Table.

More information here.

Monday, March 18, 2019

Easter Term 2019: 1919

The Science and Literature Reading Group returns in Easter Term, taking as its focus texts first published a century ago in 1919. We will meet at our usual venue, Darwin College, on Monday evenings from 7.30-9pm. All are welcome to join in our friendly and wide-ranging discussions!

29th April: Gardens


13th May: Cities


20th May: Health


3rd June: Heaven and earth

In recognition of the International Year of the Periodic Table, we will also be teaming up with AD HOC (Association for the Discussion of the History of Chemistry) for a special seminar on Primo Levi's classic piece of science-writing, The Periodic Table (please note earlier start time and different location).

10th June (5pm, HPS): The Periodic Table

  • Primo Levi (1919-87), The Periodic Table (1975): ‘Potassium’, ‘Nitrogen’, ‘Carbon’.

We hope our planned term on AI Narratives will go ahead later in the year.

Monday, February 11, 2019

Cambridge Science Festival 2019

Lots of interesting events around science, art, and literature at this year's Festival: take a look! Booking now open.

HPS workshop - Poetry as an Epistemic Resource

Wednesday 13 February, 5pm, seminar room 1, HPS
"Poetry is not a luxury": Poetry as an Epistemic Resource

Azita Chellappoo

There exists a long-acknowledged connection between poetry and lived experience: one important feature of poetry is its capacity to provide a channel for self-expression. Here, I wish to emphasise the way in which poetry as self-expression not only holds value for those that use poetry as an outlet for their experience, but also for those seeking to gain understanding of that experience. In particular, poetry can provide a window into viewpoints and experiences that are otherwise difficult to access.

I begin by sketching out an argument for the importance of directly engaging with lived experience in various philosophical domains. Given that aspects of lived experience can be difficult to communicate to those that do not share this experience, attention should be given to ways of communicating this experience that would be otherwise difficult or impossible to communicate through analytic description. Poetry is one such means: due to the unique way in which poetry employs language, which can aim at and allow for the distillation of experience, poems can provide a resource for understanding. Where philosophical work necessitates engaging with lived experience, poetry has the potential to play a valuable role. I then sketch out how poetry could function as a useful epistemic resource in the case of philosophical work on thef emale orgasm, and in understanding the construction of ethnic or national identity.

Saturday, February 02, 2019

CFP: International Network for the Study of Science and Belief in Society, Annual Conference

Thursday 4th July – Saturday 6th July 2019
Edgbaston Park Hotel, Birmingham, UK.
Please note: support for attendance is available.

Organised by the Science and Belief in Society Research Group at the University of Birmingham, UK this is the first conference launching the new, International Network for the Study of Science and Belief in Society.

In the last decade there has been significant growth in social scientific scholarship on science and religion, complementing the more established historical research into the subject. Greater attention is being paid to the varied ways in which perceptions of science are influenced by religious and non-religious belief, identity, community and conflict in different geographical, cultural and historical contexts. The purpose of this international conference is to bring together researchers with backgrounds in sociology, science and technology studies, psychology, political science, history, social anthropology, and related humanities or social science disciplines to discuss perspectives on the overarching topic of science and belief in society.

Abstracts are invited for the conference relating to the following themes:

·       The social scientific and historical study of the relationship between science and religious and/or non-religious belief and identity;
·       Public perceptions of the relationship between science, religion and non-religion and their respective roles in society;
·       National and international comparative perspectives on the study of science, religion and belief in society;
·       Past and present media or popular representations of science, religion and belief in society;
·       The past or present roles of science, rationalism, religion and belief in national, social or cultural identity and related geopolitical narratives;
·       Multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary approaches to the study of science, religion and non-religion in society;
·       Methodological approaches to, and issues in, the study of science, religion and belief in society;
·       Avenues for future research and developments within the social scientific and historical study of science, religion and belief in society;
·       Public policy research relating to any aspect of public policy that intersects with issues connected to science, religion and belief in society. Including studies on the impact of publics’ views on science and religion on policy making, and provision for religious, spiritual or non-religious communities across a range of geographies and issues (e.g. healthcare provision, educational policy, science policy, environmental policy or development);
·       International studies of religious or spiritual communities’ perspectives on the intersection, and possible relationships, between science and religion over time.

We are interested in papers that relate to any aspect of STEMM in society (science, technology, engineering, medicine, and mathematics) and that discuss any religious, spiritual or non-religious tradition, position or worldview, including unbelief.

Keynote papers will be given by historian Professor Peter Harrison, Australian Laureate Fellow and Director of the Institute for Advanced Studies in the Humanities at the University of Queensland (Australia), and psychologist Professor Cristine Legare, associate professor of psychology and the director of the Evolution, Variation, and Ontogeny of Learning Laboratory at The University of Texas at Austin (USA).

Individual paper submissions:
To submit a paper proposal, please send an abstract of no more than 300 words, alongside a biographical note of no more than 200 words including name, institutional affiliation, email address and if possible a web-link to your institutional bio page.

Biographies of successful applicants will be added to the International Network’s Research Directory when our new website launches in the spring. Please indicate on your application if you would like to opt out of being added to the Research Directory.

Panel session proposals:
We will also be accepting a limited number of panel proposals with a maximum of four speakers. To submit a panel proposal, please send a session summary of no more than 250 words alongside abstracts of no more than 300 words for each paper and biographical notes of no more than 200 words for each contributor (please include institutional affiliation(s), e-mail contact details, and other info as above).

Individual or panel session submissions may cross over several of the themes listed above, and those intending to submit papers are encouraged to consider the relevance of their work to other academic disciplines.

Please send all individual paper and session proposals to Dr Harris Wiseman ( for the attention of the conference organisers, Professor Fern Elsdon-Baker (University of Birmingham), and Dr Alexander Hall (University of Birmingham).

All abstracts must be submitted by 1st March 2019.

Conference Costs and Bursaries:
Please note that for all successful applicants, accommodation and registration costs will be covered by the International Network for the Study of Science and Belief in Society as part of a 1 year grant from the Templeton Religion Trust.

In addition to this, a limited number of bursaries are available to support those who may not have institutional support to attend international conferences, including but not limited to: postgraduate, early career, retired, or low income or unwaged.  To request this additional support please e-mail Dr Harris Wiseman at, including your contact details, a short biography (including a clear statement regarding your career stage), your abstract and a statement of interest to be considered for one of the bursaries. We also have a range of other bursaries for covering other needs (e.g. support with day care costs). The deadline for submission of bursary applications is 1st March 2019.

Please note that we will be running a fully funded early career workshop in the days prior to this conference, but this will be announced and advertised via a separate call.

Key Dates:
Abstract submission: Open now
Deadline for abstracts and conference bursary applications: 1st March 2019
Decision notification: 15th March 2019
Registration opens: 15th March 2019
Registration deadline for presenters: 29th March 2019

Should you have other questions about the conference please contact the conference co-ordinator Dr Harris Wiseman at

A digital version of this Call of Papers can be found online at:

The conference is supported by the Templeton Religion Trust and is being held as part of the activities of the newly established International Network for the Study of Science and Belief in Society, based at the University of Birmingham. For more information about the network please contact Dr Alexander Hall (

Sunday, January 27, 2019

"A History of the Small" One-Day Conference

Saturday 23 February 2019
10.30 am - 5.00 pm
St Cross College, University of Oxford - Martin Wood Lecture Theatre, Department of Physics 

Throughout the ages physics has sought to explain the nature of matter both on Earth and in the heavens. Millennia ago, the Greek philosophers posited the existence of atoms, thereby launching a journey through the centuries, which in due course confirmed their existence and have made them tools of our everyday life. More recently, modern thought combined the theories of relativity and quantum mechanics leading to an understanding of matter now encoded in the Standard Model. This progress has led to startling new applications in fields such as nanotechnology and genomics. This conference will trace the progress of thought from the speculations of the ancients to the reality of the modern day. Registration to attend this conference is free, but must be confirmed using the Conference booking form by midday on Friday 15 February 2019.

The programme for the day is below:

MORNING CHAIR: Dr Nicoleta Gaciu (Oxford Brookes University) 

10.30 am WELCOME 

10.40 am Professor Peter Atkins (University of Oxford) - The Evolution of the Atom 
11.30 am Professor Michelle Peckham (University of Leeds) - What is a Microscope? How the Microscope has Evolved over 350 Years 
12.20 pm Professor Sean Freeman (University of Manchester)- Searching for Atomic Constituents: Splitting the Atom? 

1.15 pm LUNCH BREAK AFTERNOON CHAIR: Dr Shirley Northover (The Open University) 2.15 pm Dr Rolf Landua (CERN, Geneva) - A Short History of the Smallest 
3.05 pm Professor Jeremy Baumberg FRS (University of Cambridge) - The Emergence of Nanoscience 


4.30 pm SUMMARY OF THE DAY'S PROCEEDINGS - Professor Alfons Weber (University of Oxford/Rutherford Appleton Laboratory)

There will be a conference dinner at St Cross in the evening following the end of the conference with an after-dinner talk by Jonty Hurwitz (nano sculptor and engineer) on his construction of the smallest human form ever created using nanotechnology. Although the conference itself is free of charge, the dinner carries a cost of £35 to attend - a place for dinner (only for confirmed conference attendees and their guests) can be booked until the deadline of midday on Friday 15 February 2019. This event is sponsored by the Faculty of History, University of Oxford and by a grant-in-aid from the Center for History of Physics, American Institute of Physics.

Friday, January 18, 2019

ADC - End of the Line

London, 1969. A conscientious but mischievous phone-operator uses her specialist skills to avert the end of the network.

The last days of the manual telephone exchange. While the new automated switchboards are being installed across the nation, an operator resents connecting phone calls that are ending the careers of her colleagues. Never shy to a prank, Susan commits herself to take it further, using her skills of eavesdropping, rumour-spreading, and call-misdirection to save the present from the future. When the upgrades were only scheduled in Birmingham alone she was able divert and disrupt them; yet within days the threat starts to close in on London itself.

Unable to match the efficiency of the system, Susan must contend for the human side of the technological sector. Though she is up against an industry that prefers the superfast dreams of the visionaries, who promise instant connectivity and the removal of human error. Susan refuses to leave, in part to complete her employment, and in part to wait for the impossible return of a precious fellow operator.

Further details and ticket booking here.

CFP - Interdisciplinarity: The New Discipline?

School of Interdisciplinary Studies, University of Glasgow, Crichton Campus, Dumfries, DG1 4ZL

Tuesday 3rd September - Thursday 5th September 2019

Conference Description

The School of Interdisciplinary Studies, University of Glasgow, will mark 20 years of the University of Glasgow's presence at its Dumfries campus with a conference examining interdisciplinarity, its evolving interpretations, histories and uses. Amongst the key themes the conference will consider is the normalisation of interdisciplinarity methods, perspectives and discourses within research and educational contexts. Participants will address the drivers, challenges and opportunities of integrating approaches from different disciplines offered by funding bodies, academic journals and REF panels. Practitioners from teaching and learning are invited to address the processes by which the difficulties and benefits of teaching mixed disciplinary groups, with their own distinctive discourses and regimes of truth, have been negotiated, embraced and/or abandoned.

As well as keynote and plenary sessions, the conference will also have break-out sessions based on examining interdisciplinarity within discipline-specific, specialist and/or niche research and teaching groups. Each of these will feed back via a convenor at a roundtable event during the conference to explore questions to explore what changes have occurred and to what extent has the discourse of interdisciplinarity provided not new approaches to intellectual discovery but a cover for the continuation of existing disciplinary methods.

The types of key points we hope the participants on the specialist sessions will address and the co-ordinator will feedback on are:
  • What do you mean by 'interdisciplinarity', how far does it differ or concur with interpretations within your discipline/subject area and how is it manifested? 
  • What do different parties view as the strengths and weaknesses of interdisciplinarity as it is practised in your research or in relation to pedagogical approaches and teaching methods? 
  • To what extent is interdisciplinarity occurring and how do the demands of attracting funding, achieving publication, meeting REF, managerial and institutional demands shape the forms of interdisciplinarity? 
  • How are external pressures shaping interdisciplinarity resisted or transcended? 
  • What other factors shape the promotion, marginalisation, configuring and normalisation of interdisciplinarity? 
  • How, if at all, has 'interdisciplinarity' changed your discipline/subject area in general and your practice in particular? 
  • What might others from outside your discipline/subject area learn from your experience of interdisciplinarity?
Please submit abstracts of 200 words (maximum) proposing paper, presentation or poster by Thursday 4th April 2019 to either: Dr Sandy Whitelaw or Dr Benjamin Franks.

Thursday, January 17, 2019

Talk - Fantasy and the Anthropocene

Prof Brian Attebery, University of Glasgow

Thursday 24 January 2019, 16:00-18:00

Mary Allan Building room 104, Homerton College, Hills Road, Cambridge CB2 8PQ

The concept of the Anthropocene says that humans are primarily responsible for the current state of the world, and only we (if anyone) can fix it. In this talk, Brian Attebery will explore traditional narrative patterns and their repurposing by fantasy writers from J. R. R. Tolkien to N. K. Jemisin. Such patterns take on new purpose and significance in the context of species die-offs, climate change, and other human-caused alterations of the environment. Examples range from the killing of the forest guardian in the epic of Gilgamesh to John Crowley’s recent novel Ka.

Brian Attebery is the author of Stories about Stories: Fantasy and the Remaking of Myth and Decoding Gender in Science Fiction, among other genre studies. His work has been honored with a Pilgrim Award, two Mythopoeic Awards, and the Distinguished Scholarship Award from the International Association for the Fantastic in the Arts. He is a Professor of English at Idaho State University and editor of the Journal of the Fantastic in the Arts. He is currently working on a new edition of Ursula K. Le Guin’s Always Coming Home for the Library of America and as of January, 2019, is Leverhulme Visiting Professor at the University of Glasgow.