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

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