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

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 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


 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 ( and Martin Willis (

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

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

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

Please email Gavin Budge on <> 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.

A list of books that have already been reviewed on the British Society for Literature and Science website can be found here.

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Friedrich-Alexander Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg, Germany

21-23 October 2016

Organized by ELINAS: Research Center for Literature and Natural Science


See the full CFP here: CfP-Narrative, Cognition & Science Lab


March 16-19, Sheraton Society Hill, Philadelphia

Nineteenth-century bodies were poked and prodded, characterized, caricatured, corseted and cossetted, disciplined, displayed, naturalized, normalized, medicalized, mapped and mechanized. Sciences and pseudosciences brought the body under scrutiny to an unprecedented degree—phrenology, psychology, physiology, anatomy, paleontology, microbiology, germ theory, principles of population, zoology, and sexology, all contributing to the proliferation of bodily discourses. Improvements in medicine and sanitation coexisted with poor sewage, and the ever-present fear of disease, and bodies were variously protected and regulated through Factory Acts, Public Health Acts, and the Contagious Diseases Act. Hospitals, workhouses and freakshows corralled and categorized. Pre-raphaelite painters proferred strong and sexualized women, while overpopulated novels featured the blind and deaf, fragile children and disabled adults, and all worried whether such outward signs accurately attested to the content of a character. Meanwhile, changes wrought in understanding one kind of body reverberated through its analogs; the human body was taken as model for corporate bodies, the body politic, bodies of knowledge—and vice versa. And where there is a model, a norm, there is also that which defies and defines that norm. INCS 2017 will pay special attention to the problematic, marginalized and metaphoric—to odd bodies.

Queer bodies, raced bodies, busy bodies, body markings, disabled bodies, prosthetics, bodies behaving badly, the body as spectacle, fragmented bodies, disciplined bodies, animal bodies, circus & freak show bodies, bodies at work or play, bodies in contact, unlikely friendships/romances, sexy bodies, naked bodies, diseased bodies, vivisection, the anatomised body, dead bodies, body snatchers, embodiment/disembodiment, spirit bodies, mythical bodies, angels, monsters, and ghosts, the gendered body, intellectual women, odd women, blue stockings, New Women, the body of the insane, the eccentric, characters & caricatures, ugly bodies, corporate bodies, bodies of knowledge, bodies of evidence, bodies of work, colonial bodies, traveling bodies and the body politic.

Deadline: November 1, 2016. Upload proposals via the conference website coming soon. For individual papers, send 250-word proposals; for panels, send individual proposals plus a 250-word panel description. Please include a one-page CV with your name, affiliation, and email address. Proposals that are interdisciplinary in method or panels that involve multiple disciplines are especially welcome.

Questions? Contact Barri Gold at

The BSLS are pleased to announce that this year's winner of the essay prize jointly awarded with the Journal of Literature and Science is Rachel Murray’s essay titled ‘Vermicular Origins: The Creative Evolution of Samuel Beckett’s Worm’.

We offer our many congratulations to Rachel.

The judges wrote: “This essay offers a meticulously researched, original account of the development of Beckett’s interest in the larval. Arguing that Beckett conceived of his language and writing in ‘larval’ terms, having read various scientific texts on insect life, the essay convincingly traces how the influence of the ‘worm-state’ on his work grew from the late 1930s. What particularly stood out was the use of archival sources to demonstrate how Beckett engaged with Darwin and to show how Beckett’s understanding of the creative impulse was influenced by Henri Bergson’s writing on evolution. From these readings, the essay shed new light on some of the sources which informed Beckett’s concern with pre-linguistic, instinctual forms of expression. Interweaving exemplary close readings of Beckett’s fiction and his letters, the essay offers a fascinating, historically grounded view of Beckett’s own vermicular evolution as a writer, and as such it is a deserving winner of the 2016 prize.”

Rachel's essay will appear in one of the next issues of the Journal of Literature and Science:

We are conducting a short survey to gauge how literature and science scholars perceive science in relation to their own work. Our aim is to establish whether there are particular conceptions of science and of scholarly practice in relation to it that are prevalent among literature and science scholars at large or among particular communities or disciplines working in this field. With this in mind, we are sending out the survey to the members of the British Society for Literature and Science, the Society for Literature, Science and the Arts (US and EU branches), and the Commission on Science and Literature. We are hoping to present the results of the survey at the SLSAeu conference next year and in the Journal of Literature and Science.
We would be very grateful if you would take a few minutes to answer the questions in the survey. You can get to the survey by clicking on this link: You are welcome either just to tick the boxes or to include brief comments alongside your answers. If you wish to, you can complete the survey in stages, and there is also a facility for printing off your response for your own records. The survey will close at the end of August.
Please share this link with any friends and colleagues working on literature and science who are not members of the societies listed above. If you have any problems completing the survey, please contact Emil Toescu (
Thank you very much indeed. We look forward to sharing the results of our survey with you. 
Emil Toescu (Neuroscience) and John Holmes (English Literature) 
University of Birmingham

For the coming academic year, these two funding streams will invite applications twice, with deadlines in September and March. Applications are now invited for the next round of both competitions, each with a deadline of 1st September 2016.


BSLS Small Grants Scheme


Applications are invited for BSLS small grants of up to £400 to promote the study of literature and science. We are open to all sorts of proposals other than personal conference expenses. Examples of activities for which the awards might be used are expenses for a visiting speaker, a seminar series, or a symposium. Applications for support to stage special BSLS panels at appropriate conferences (other than the BSLS 2017 conference) will be considered.

Recent events supported by the scheme include: conferences on ‘The Body and Pseudoscience in the Long Nineteenth Century’ at the University of Newcastle, and on ‘Doing Science: Texts, Patterns, Practices’ at the University of Cologne; EXEWHIRR, a public-engagement event on ‘The Human-Technology Relationship through the Ages’ at the Bike Shed in Exeter, and; a symposium on ‘Biomedical Science and the Maternal Body’ at the University of Southampton organised by the Postgraduate Contemporary Women’s Writing Network.

Applicants should be current members of BSLS and should apply by making a case for how the award will contribute to the development of literature and science, with a brief outline of costs of the project. Applications should be no longer than 500 words. Where funding is sought for BSLS panels a clear indication of the scope of the panel, and of its contribution to the understanding of literature and science, should be included. Recipients of small grants are asked to acknowledge BSLS sponsorship appropriately in publicity for events and to provide a brief report on events for the BSLS newsletter and website.

Applicants may apply for any amount up to £400; in some instances a proportion of the amount applied for may be awarded. International members of BSLS are welcome to apply for the awards, but should note that they will be distributed in the form of bank cheques made out in pounds sterling. Serving members of the BSLS Executive Committee are not eligible to apply for the awards. We cannot enter into correspondence about the decisions of the Committee.

The application should be e-mailed, as a Word attachment, to the BSLS Secretary, Greg Lynall ( by 1st September 2016. Please put 'BSLS small grant' in the subject heading of your email. Applications will then be considered by the BSLS Executive Committee, with successful applicants informed by the end of September. Queries about the scheme should be directed to Greg Lynall.


BSLS Postgraduate Conference Fund


Applications are invited for bursaries of £200 for BSLS postgraduate student members toward the cost of presenting research papers at conferences (this excludes the BSLS annual conference, which has its own postgraduate bursary scheme). In addition to funding attendance at literature and science conferences, we would like to fund members who intend to give papers on literature and science at conferences which are not specifically focused on this topic, in order to promote the study of our field more widely.

To be eligible, applicants must

  • Be a member of the BSLS
  • Be a current research student
  • Be presenting a paper at a conference held after 1st October 2016


Eligible expenses include conference fees, travel and accommodation costs. Applicants must provide an outline of their research paper, justify why the funds are required (i.e. give a break-down of the budget) and state whether they have applied to any other funding sources (and the outcomes of those applications). You should also state why you think the particular conference you have chosen would be valuable, both for your own career and with regard to the wider objectives of the BSLS. Applications should be no longer than 500 words. Successful applicants will be expected to provide a brief report on their paper and experience of the conference, for the BSLS newsletter and website.

International members of BSLS are welcome to apply for the awards, but should note that they will be distributed in the form of bank cheques made out in pounds sterling. Serving members of the BSLS Executive Committee are not eligible to apply for the awards. We cannot enter into correspondence about the decisions of the Committee.

The application should be e-mailed, as a Word attachment, to the BSLS Early Career Executive Committee Member, Ros Ambler-Alderman ( by 1st September 2016. Please put 'BSLS PG conference fund' in the subject heading of your email. Applications will then be considered by the BSLS Executive Committee, with successful applicants informed by the end of September. Queries about the fund should be directed to Ros Ambler-Alderman.

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