About the Program

The Baruch S. Blumberg NASA/Library of Congress Astrobiology Program establishes a focus in the nation’s capital for the exploration of issues surrounding life’s future in the universe, for humans and other species, on Earth and beyond. The program encourages discussion and reflection on the potential impacts of discovering whether there is life beyond our planet. One senior researcher is appointed annually to be in residence at The John W. Kluge Center, to make use of the Library of Congress collections in exploration of these questions, as well as convene related programs that ensure the subject of astrobiology’s role in culture and society receives considered treatment each year in Washington, D.C.

Astrobiology: The Intersection of the Sciences and the Humanities

Astrobiology addresses three fundamental questions: "How did life begin and evolve?" "Is there life beyond Earth?" and "What is the future of life on Earth and beyond?"

Before the advent of modern science, these questions were largely in the realm of philosophy, theology and ethics. Today, the tools of science are increasingly being brought to bear to address these questions. The NASA/Library of Congress Chair in Astrobiology represents an opportunity for high-level collaboration in understanding the interface between astrobiology and human society.

The Astrobiology Chair creates an opportunity to research the range and complexity of societal issues related to how life begins and evolves, and to examine the philosophical, religious, ethical, legal, cultural and other concerns arising from scientific research on the origin, evolution and nature of life.

Possibilities for research subjects are many. The following are meant to inspire, not to limit creativity: legal issues related to governance of planets and space; the ethical implications of cross-contamination; scientific and philosophical definitions of life; conceptions of the origins of life in theistic and non-theistic religions; comparison of the discussion of these issues in multiple nations and cultures. The Chair may also consider life’s collective future—for humans and other life, on Earth and beyond, examining the impacts on life and future evolutionary trajectories that may result from both natural events and human-directed activities.

The Chair is open to scholars and leading thinkers in the fields of philosophy, history, literature, religion, astrobiology, astronomy, planetary science, the history of science, paleontology, Earth and atmospheric sciences, geological sciences, ethics, or other related fields.

The Setting

Uniquely situated for research, analysis and serious discussion of America’s and the world’s relationship to the Earth, and the moral and philosophical questions of life in the universe, the Library of Congress offers facilities for scholars, universal collections spanning more than 470 languages, broad language and subject expertise of the Library staff, the central position of the Library on Capitol Hill, and the inspiring atmosphere of the magnificent Thomas Jefferson Building in which to annually examine the general subject of the future of life in the universe.

Funding

The Baruch S. Blumberg NASA/Library of Congress Chair in Astrobiology is made possible through a unique interagency agreement between NASA Astrobiology Program and the Library of Congress. Established in 2011, the collaboration by NASA and the Library of Congress owes a great deal to the vision of the late Dr. Baruch S. Blumberg, Nobel Prize winner and founding member of the Library’s Scholars Council. Dr. Blumberg served as the founding director of the NASA Astrobiology Institute in 1999. The funding for the position is provided by NASA, and execution of the agreement is with the Kluge Center in consultation with the NASA Astrobiology Institute.

 

For more details please see

www.loc.gov/loc/kluge/fellowships/NASA-astrobiology.html

 

 

 

Reviews that have appeared on the British Society for Literature and Science website in August 2016

A list of books for which we are currently seeking reviewers can be found here.

Please email Gavin Budge on <G.Budge@herts.ac.uk> if you would like to propose a book for review  - anything published from 2011 onwards will be considered.

This is a list of books that are currently in the process of being reviewed.

 

American Comparative Literature Association// Utrecht University, Netherlands// July 6-9 2017

Emerging out of the practices of colonialism, imperialism, and slavery/slave trade, race theory has seen renewed and reinvigorated interest in the last sixteen years. Recent scholarship has started to examine the relationship between these varying theories on race from philosophical, philological, theological, historical, biological, and other disciplines and literature (particularly prose fiction) from as early as the 16th century, but flourishing prominently in the Enlightenment and later 19th century at first in European university and later in U.S. universities, developing concurrently and after these theories were developed and circulated in multiple discourses.

This seminar proposes to look at the relationship between literature and the theorization of race in academic disciplines, primarily in the 18th and 19th centuries but also extending into the 20th century. Questions we wish to explore include, but are not necessarily limited to the following:

- How and why do prominent and marginal authors adopt, reject, criticize, and/or apply theories of race to ethnic others within their works?

- Is there a theory or are there theories of race within works of literature or in larger literary traditions and movements?

- Theorists this seminar would like to examine include, but are not limited to, Buffon, Bernier, Voltaire, Meiners, Kant, Herder, Blumenbach, Hegel, Herder, de Gobineau, Darwin, Galton, Boas, Locke, Montagu, Du Bois, Appiah, Senghor, Alcoff, Hanchard, Ferreira de Silva, Omi and Winant. We will also consider theories of race from literary authors such as Céline and Tagore, for instance.

This seminar seeks research comparing race theories alongside literary works from all over the world, as well as literary works that respond either directly or indirectly to race theories. We also welcome comparisons between race theory and visual culture, music, and other forms of artistic media.

 

Please submit a 300-word abstract for a 20-minute presentation on the ACLA website (http://www.acla.org/race-theory-and-literature) until September 23, 2016.

Contact the seminar co-organizers Pauline Moret-Jankus at pauline.moret-jankus@uni-jena.de and Adam J. Toth at adamjtoth@gmail.com with any questions.

The concept of the Anthropocene, deemed by Bruno Latour “the best alternative we have to usher us out of the notion of modernization”, blurs the distinction between human and geological history (Dipesh Chakrabarty). It speaks, too, to contemporary fiction’s concern with the place of humans on the planet, the ways in which they shape - and are shaped by - the natural and technological environments through which they move, and the broader relation between the early twenty-first century moment and ‘deep’ time.

Although the value of the Anthropocene as an official geological epoch is still being considered by the International Commission on Stratigraphy, the term is already widely in use to denote the era in which human beings have become a major geological force with significant socio-political implications. Indeed, “In the Anthropocene, social, cultural and political orders are woven into and co-evolve with techno-natural orders of specific matter and energy flow metabolism at a global level, requiring new concepts and methods in the humanities” (Clive Hamilton, François Gemenne, Christophe Bonneuil).

Taking up Hamilton, Gemenne, and Bonneuil’s conceptual and methodological invitation, this special issue of C21 asks: how does literature respond to this new geological era? Are there specific forms, genres, and techniques which are more appropriate than others to represent the temporal and spatial enormity of the era? And how is criticism addressing the Anthropocene?

Possible topics for articles include, but are not limited to:

  • Representations of the Anthropocene in fiction, drama, poetry, and non-fiction;
  • Anthropogenic apocalyptic narratives, utopias, and dystopias;
  • Genre, form, and the Anthropocene;
  • Time, temporality, and history in anthropogenic narratives;
  • Space and nature in anthropogenic narratives;
  • The Anthropocene and literary criticism (e.g. ecocriticism, Marxism, trauma theory);
  • Postcolonial literature, diasporas, and the Anthropocene;
  • The representation of race, gender, and class in the Anthropocene;
  • The Anthropocene and capital;
  • Posthumanism, humanism, and the Anthropocene;
  • Literature, science studies, and the Anthropocene.

Please send abstracts (500 words max) to Dr Diletta De Cristofaro (ddcristofaro@harlaxton.ac.uk) by 31st October 2016. Final articles of 6,000-7,000 words will be due by 28th February 2017.

University of Leeds

Tuesday 4th – Thursday 6th July 2017

Confirmed speakers: Professor Wändi Bruine de Bruin (Leeds); Professor Nigel Clark (Lancaster); Professor Alexandra Harris (Liverpool); Professor Mike Hulme (King’s College London); Dr Adeline Johns-Putra (Surrey); Professor Gillen D’Arcy Wood (Illinois)

Our experience of climate change is always mediated. Its effects are encountered through changing weather patterns, including the storms, floods, and droughts that afflict communities across the world. They are also encountered through different forms of representation: a novel imagining a desiccated future Earth; a television documentary about coral bleaching; a graph of rising global temperatures. Researchers increasingly understand climate change as a cultural and political issue, and are concerned with the ways in which it is mediated in different contexts, and to different audiences.

This major environmental humanities conference will cross disciplines and periods to analyse the ways in which human beings have tried to make sense of climate change. What difficulties are there in representing climate change? How has it been debated in the past? What new ways of exploring and mediating climate change are emerging as we face an uncertain future?

We welcome proposals of around 250 words for twenty-minute papers suitable for an interdisciplinary audience. Topics might include, but are not limited to:

  • Representations of climate change in literature, film, the media, and the arts
  • Climate change and cultural theory (e.g. posthumanism, new materialism)
  • Historical constructions of climate change
  • Climate change and the Anthropocene
  • The mediation of climate science
  • Scales of mediation/climate modelling
  • Climate change as a culturally mediated and contingent concept
  • The construction of climate change within academic discourse
  • Climate change and ‘the natural’
  • The psychology of climate change (e.g. disavowal, denial, scepticism, affirmation, optimism)
  • Climate change in political discourse
  • Climate change and the ethics of representation
  • Mediation and climate change activism

We also welcome proposals for complete panels and for presentations/panels using non-standard formats. The deadline for proposals is 15 January 2017. Please use the conference email address for all correspondence and proposals: mediatingclimatechange@leeds.ac.uk

Conference organisers: David Higgins and Tess Somervell

Conference advisory team: Jeremy Davies, Dehlia Hannah, Graham Huggan, Sebastien Nobert, Lucy Rowland, Stefan Skrimshire, Kerri Woods

This conference is supported by the Arts and Humanities Research Council through a Leadership Fellowship awarded to Dr Higgins. For further details, see http://romanticcatastrophe.leeds.ac.uk/

The University of Westminster's department of English is offering a fully-funded 3 year Full-Time PhD studentship on the topic of performing science in the nineteenth century. Full details can be found at https://www.westminster.ac.uk/courses/research-degrees/research-areas/social-sciences-and-humanities/research-studentships/performing-science-in-the-19th-century

Clifton Hill House, University of Bristol, Friday 20th January 2017.

‘It’s a kind of literary archaeology: on the basis of some information and a little bit of guesswork you journey to a site to see what remains were left behind and to reconstruct the world that these remains imply’. Toni Morrison is not the only writer to have imagined her work as a kind of archaeological digging, as an imaginative excavation of the past and a reconstruction of past lives from remains. From Wordsworth’s call to ‘grieve not, rather find / strength in what remains’ to Heaney’s bog poetry, writers have interrogated the significance of the earth, the buried, remains and fragments, and drawn upon techniques and tools associated with archaeology as a means of thinking about history, memory and the body. Conversely, archaeologists have begun to examine the potential influence of literature on their approaches to material traces and human remains. In the introduction to their 2015 book Subject and Narrative in Archaeology, Ruth M. Van Dyke and Reinhard Bernbeck note that there is an ‘increasing clamour for and interest in alternative forms of archaeological narratives, involving writing fiction, making films, constructing hypertexts, and creating media that transcend the traditional limitations of expository prose’ and that ‘Visual art, fiction, creative nonfiction, film, and drama have much to offer archaeological interpretation and analysis’. Not only literature itself, but literary critical approaches are also being recognised as useful ways of thinking about the archaeological processes: for archaeologist John Hines, there is an ‘affinity between the scholarly disciplines’, archaeology involving ‘the same exercises of interpretation, analysis and evaluation as literary criticism.’

This conference brings together archaeologists, literary scholars and creative writers to explore similarities and points of convergence between literature, literary studies and archaeology across historical periods. We invite papers which adopt a range of disciplinary or interdisciplinary approaches to the relationship between archaeology and literature and/or the potential for methodological exchange between the disciplines.  We are particularly interested in exploring synergies between archaeological science and literature, and how the human body as a site of archaeological knowledge might shape and be shaped by literary and critical approaches to the body.

Topics might include, but are not limited to:

  • Literary and cultural representations of archaeology
  • Fragments, remains and reconstruction in archaeology and literary studies
  • Theoretical uses of archaeology in the work of Walter Benjamin, Freud, Foucault
  • Human remains, bodies, bones and skeletons in literature
  • The influence of archaeological writing on literary studies
  • Representations of archaeology in the media
  • Metaphor, analogy and storytelling in archaeology
  • The relationship between memory, history and narrative
  • Race and gender in archaeology

 

Confirmed keynote speakers include:

Dr. Jerome de Groot, University of Manchester

Dr. Robert Witcher, Durham University

 

This conference is supported by the AHRC and is being held as part of the AHRC-funded project ‘Literary Archaeology’: Exploring the Lived Environment of the Slave http://www.bristol.ac.uk/arts/research/literary-archaeology/

Attendance at the conference is free and there is a limited fund for reimbursement of UK travel expenses. We are also pleased to offer a postgraduate bursary which will cover all expenses of the successful applicant.

There will be an opportunity to publish conference papers in a journal special issue following the conference.

Please send 250 word abstracts to Josie.Gill@bristol.ac.uk by 16th September 2016. Delegates will be notified of the outcome in mid-October.

BSLS member Sam George at Hertfordshire been involved in a collaboration with New York Botanical Gardens for an exhibition on Poetic Botany in the Eighteenth Century.

The exhibition can now be seen live at http://www.nybg.org/poetic-botany/.

THE STATE OF THE UNIONS

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

We therefore invite contributions that make an intervention in our thinking about the field of literature, science and arts. Potential topics for discussion include, but are not limited to, the following:

  1. The meanings of interdisciplinarity in the field
  2. The place of the study of literature and science within the academy
  3. International variations or international synergies
  4. Collaborative work between literature/arts and the scientific community
  5. How do we (now) define "literature" in the dyad of literature and science?
  6. The relationship between cultural theory and historicism in the field
  7. How is literature and science evolving in relation to its own splintering (into animal studies, neuroscience, environmental studies, etc.)?
  8. Speculations: what is the future of the field?
  9. Reflections: where has the field most profited and where has it gone astray?

 

Submission information for the first issue:

Length of contribution: 2000 words

Deadline: December 16th, 2016

Send to: Melissa Littlefield (mml@illinois.edu) and Martin Willis (willism8@cardiff.ac.uk)

Publication: JLS 10.1 in June 2017

(Decisions on inclusion in the first issue by February 2017)

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

The latest call for reviewers from the Journal of Literature and Science is available here: JLS CALL FOR REVIEWERS 2016

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