CfP: Abnormality and the Abnormal in the Nineteenth Century

Abnormality and the Abnormal in the Nineteenth Century, 7 May 2015, Durham University

This one-day interdisciplinary conference, organised by the Postgraduate Representatives for the Centre for Nineteenth-Century Studies at Durham University, aims to explore categorisations, explanations, and implications of abnormality in the long nineteenth century, asking what the abnormal can tell us about long nineteenth century constructions of aberration, deviancy, and normality.

Topics may include, but are not limited to:

Measuring and/or quantifying (ab)normality; abnormality as/and spectacle; decadence, deviance and abnormal tastes; degeneration of behaviour and race; imperialistic perceptions of the ‘other’; locating and segregating the abnormal.

We invite proposals for 20-minute individual papers, or for 1 hour three-paper themed panels, from postgraduates of all disciplines and stages. Please send abstracts (individual papers 300 words / panels 500 words) including the title, all names, affiliations and a contact email address, as a Word or .pdf document, to the conference organisers at, with the subject heading ‘CNCS PG Conference: Abnormality’.

The deadline for submission is 16 January 2015.

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2015 Royal Society Winton Prize for Science Books

The Royal Society is pleased to announce that entries for the 2015 Royal Society Winton Prize for Science Books are now being accepted.

The 2015 prize will celebrate the best of outstanding popular science books from around the world. This prestigious prize is open to authors of science books that are accessible and compelling accounts of the world around us or inside us, written for a non-specialist audience.

The six shortlisted books will be selected by a panel of judges in July 2015. The winner will be announced in September 2015 and will receive £25,000. The 5 other authors of the shortlisted books will each receive £2,500.

An online entry form must be completed for each entry, and seven non-returnable copies of each entry submitted to The Royal Society Winton Prize for Science Books, 6-9 Carlton House Terrace, London, SW1Y 5AG, UK by 18:00 BST on Friday 10 April 2015.

Books submitted for the 2015 prize must have been, or be due to be, published for the first time in English between 01 March 2014 and 30 September 2015. Preview manuscripts are accepted provided they are available by the end of April 2015 and the title is due to be published by 30 September 2015. The entry form and full details of the prize’s regulations and eligibility criteria are available on the Society’s website.

For more information please contact Rebecca Jones at or on 020 7451 2513.

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Oxford C19th Science, Medicine and Culture seminars

The programme for next term’s seminar series at Oxford University on Science, Medicine and Culture in the Nineteenth Century has been announced. For details, visit the website of the Constructing Scientific Communities project.

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BSLS 2015 cfp – deadline approaching

This is a reminder that the deadline for the call for papers for next year’s BSLS conference, to be held at the University of Liverpool on April 16-18, is approaching. Please can you send your proposals to Greg Lynall at Liverpool by Friday 5th December. Here are the full details, from our earlier post:

The tenth annual conference of the British Society for Literature and Science will take place at the University of Liverpool, on 16-18 April 2015. Keynote talks will be given by Professor Keith Barnham (Imperial College London), Dr Patricia Fara (University of Cambridge), and Dr Claire Preston (Queen Mary University of London).

The BSLS invites proposals for twenty-minute papers, or panels of three papers, on any subjects within the field of literature and science. In addition, ‘flash talks’ of up to 7 minutes on any topic are invited for a special plenary session. Other formats are also welcomed, but please email your suggestion to the organisers (via for consideration, well in advance of the submission deadline.

This year the organisers would particularly welcome proposals addressing the themes of light, optics, vision and colour, and proposals for papers, panels or roundtables on engaging the public with literature and science research. However, the BSLS remains committed to supporting and showcasing work on all aspects of literature – including comparative literature and European and world literatures – and science, medicine and technology.

Proposals of no more than 250 words, together with the name and institutional affiliation of the speaker, and a biographical note of around 50 words, should be sent in the body of messages (not in attachments) to Proposals for panels should include a separate proposal and biographical note for each paper. The closing date for submissions is Friday 5 December 2014.

The conference fee will be waived for two graduate students in exchange for written reports on the conference, to be published in the BSLS Newsletter. If you are interested in being selected for one of these awards, please mention this when sending in your proposal. To qualify you will need to be registered for a postgraduate degree at the time of the conference.

Accommodation: please note that those attending the conference will need to make their own arrangements for accommodation. Information on local hotels will be made available soon on the forthcoming conference website.

Membership: conference delegates will need to register as members of the BSLS (annual membership: £25 waged/ £10 unwaged). It will be possible to join the BSLS when registering for the conference online.

For further information and updates about the conference, please contact Greg Lynall (

In addition, the Liverpool University webpage for the conference is now online, including details of the conference fees:

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David Amigoni speaking on Galton and Pearson

The next seminar in the UCL Science and Literature Seminar Series will be given by Prof David Amigoni of Keele University on ‘Francis Galton, Karl Pearson and the Biographical Laboratory’.

Date, time and place: Tuesday, 2nd December, 5.30-7.30pm. G24 Foster Court, UCL – all welcome.

Abstract: This talk will explore Francis Galton’s use of biography; it will account for his use of biographical dictionaries as the basis for his early work in eugenics, including his own attempts to institute a so-called ‘Golden Book of Thriving Families’ as foundational work for early British sociology. The talk will critically explore the way in which the Galton Laboratory, under the direction of Karl Pearson, developed biographically-informed genealogies of leading intellectual families, such as the Darwins, the Galtons themselves, and newly fashioned intellectual aristocratic dynasty of the Batesons — William Bateson being one of the early British ‘fathers’ of the new science of Mendelian genetics. To raise the question of intellectual paternity is to explore Galton’s legacy in the debate between biological and cultural models of intellectual inheritance — a debate in which Pearson’s astonishing ‘labour’ of filial loyalty, ‘The Life and Letters of Francis Galton’  (1914-1930) was itself implicated.

Biography: David Amigoni is Professor of Victorian Literature at Keele University; he has published widely on Victorian writing, including on Samuel Butler, and is author of Colonies, Cults and Evolution (Cambridge 2007). He is presently working on a book about the place of life writing in the familial and intellectual interconnections between the Darwins, the Huxleys and the Batesons as a way of critically interrogating competing models of inheritance and the literature-science relationship.

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Michael Whitworth on Poetry and Science

Michael Whitworth, Chair of the BSLS from 2009 to 2012, has recently given a talk on Poetry and Science in the 1920s and 1930s at the Oxford Literature and Science seminar. To watch Michael’s talk on video, click here.

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Symposium: Biomedical Sciences and the Maternal Body

One day free symposium organised by the Postgraduate Contemporary
Women’s Writing Network with kind support from The British Society for
Literature and Science.

When engaging new audiences in contemporary women’s writing, an
increasing awareness of the importance of interdisciplinary methods has
served to draw attention to the ways in which literary expertise can be
used to engage with science and the field of medicine. Women writers in
particular exploit the use of literature as a vehicle for promoting
social responsibility and awareness, especially when it comes to
concerns surrounding recent developments in the fields of science and

The symposium seeks to examine the relationship between biomedical
science and the maternal body as represented in the works of
contemporary women writers. The pregnant body has always been a site for
much debate, particularly when placed in dialogue with feminist issues
of autonomy and subjectivity. When considered alongside biomedical
science, these debates are further complicated by women’s ambivalent
attitudes towards both the freedoms and the constrictions that modern
scientific developments bring. In exploring the relationship between
women and nature, biology, science and technology, contemporary women
writers go some way towards addressing the questions raised by such

In considering these and other questions, we welcome papers that address
this fascinating area of development within contemporary women’s
writing. Topics may include (but are by no means limited to):

• Pregnancy, subjectivity and autonomy
• Contemporary conceptions of motherhood
• Women’s relationship with their own biology
• Choice, control and power
• Binarisms regarding ‘natural’ and ‘unnatural’
• Maternal embracing or rejection of scientific interventions
• Reproductive technologies and roles within reproduction

Additionally, we are delighted to confirm Professor Clare Hanson as the
keynote speaker for the event. Her research interests lie in the
relationship between medicine and culture, with a particular emphasis on
theoretical and fictional responses to new reproductive technologies and
the cultural implications of modern genetic science.

Please submit a 200-word abstract for 15-minute papers, along with a
brief biographical note to by 15th January, 2015.
If you have any questions please do not hesitate to contact us via this
email address or through Twitter (@PGCWWN) and Facebook.

We are also delighted to be able to offer one £50 bursary to cover the
travel costs for attending the event. In order to qualify for this
bursary, the speaker must produce a review of the event (by 7th March)
for publication on the PG CWWN blog. Please state in your email if you
are interested in applying for this opportunity, and why you think you
should be selected.

Joanne Ella Parsons
PhD Candidate
Bath Spa University

Social Media and Website Officer
Feminist and Women’s Studies Association

Twitter: @joparsons

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North American Victorian Studies Association 2015 Conference: Ecology, System, Empire

NAVSA Annual Conference 2015
Honolulu, Hawaii
July 9-12, 2015
Deadline: November 21, 2014

“Ecology, System, Empire”

Organizers: Nathan Hensley (Georgetown) and Philip Steer (Massey)

The cataclysmic fact of global warming has brought to the fore notions of interconnection, supraindividual agency, and transhuman timescales, challenging scholarship to ask how systems, ecological networks, and even entire worlds might be conceived within a single frame. In Victorian Studies this presents itself as a problem of critical scale—what are the temporal and geographic boundaries of “the Victorian”?—and aesthetic form: how to represent an ecosystem, where no single phenomenon can be abstracted from a system of mutual dependence? The weblike networks of George Eliot’s realism are just one of the Victorian era’s many models for conceiving mutual imbrication at global scale: political economy, print culture, natural science, and early geology are others. But as trope and material fact, the Empire was arguably the most powerful site of ecological interconnection in the nineteenth century, as well as the engine of unprecedented environmental devastation.

These two linked panels aim to coordinate the notions of “empire” and “ecology” to explore how Victorian writers employed literary form to engage with the conceptual novelty of massively networked systems. Drawing on the tradition of postcolonial thinking about “worldedness” (Said) and on more recent work in environmental humanities on “slow violence” (Nixon), we conceive the key intervention of these panels to be the linking of often depoliticized models of ecology and environment to the Empire’s worldmaking project. We anticipate these papers to be united by a shared sense that Victorian literary forms were central to apprehending and theorizing the conflicted intersection of colonizer, native, and environment.

The first panel will use the category of “Form” to triangulate these dilemmas of environmental and political ecology with distinct zones of imperial activity; it explores (1) the capacity of Victorian forms to conceptualize colonial ecosystems, and (2) the formal strains produced at those peripheral locations. The second panel, on “Scale,” will (1) foreground processes of maximalization or zooming-out required to see interconnected systems in their full sphere of operation, while also (2) asking how smaller samples—synecdoche, example, lyric poem—might stand somehow to evoke the systems in which they participate. Collectively, these panels aim to chart the history of narrative ecologies in the Victorian imperial century; in doing so, they make a broader claim for the capacity of form to operate as a mechanism of thought, in this case indexing the fact of human-made catastrophe on global scale, imperial violence both fast and slow.

Please submit a 250-word abstract and a one-page CV by November 21, to the panel chairs, Nathan K. Hensley and Philip Steer: and

Decisions will be made within one week of this deadline, allowing time for papers not accepted for the panels to be resubmitted as individual papers by the conference deadline of December 1.

Posted in CFP
The British Society for Literature and Science is a scholarly society which promotes interdisciplinary research into the relationships of science and literature in all periods. Membership is open to anyone interested in the field, regardless of geographical location.

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