Museum of English Rural Life and University of Reading’s Special Collections, Saturday 14th November 2015

Archival research has long been a mainstay of literature and science as a discipline, challenging the boundaries of what can be read as text and excavating long-submerged concepts and connections. The recent growth in collaborative doctoral awards and collections-based PhDs, alongside research strands such as the AHRC’s Science in Culture, however, demonstrate a need to consider more fully the implications of this kind of investigation. The BSLS’s Winter Symposium therefore provides an opportunity for literature and science researchers, at all points in their career, to reflect and build upon the successes and challenges of finding ‘Science in the Archives’.

The majority of us use special collections and archival materials in the course of our literature and science research, but we are not always encouraged to reflect upon the ramifications of doing so. This symposium will provide an important opportunity to stimulate and facilitate much needed discussion of the challenges as well as successes of finding science in the archives.

For this event, we have adopted a different format from the standard academic twenty-minute conference paper, and will ask speakers to present in a more informal tone and for different lengths of time depending on the session. These shorter, less formal presentations will minimise preparation time for speakers as well as increasing discussion time for all participants. The organisers warmly seek a limited number of 10 minute position papers about methodologies and approaches to literature and science in the archives, from a range of time periods and from speakers at all stages of research or career.

We would like to thank the British Society for Science and Literature, and the University of Reading Museums and Special Collections, for generously supporting this event.

Please send proposals of no more than 300 words by Friday 4th September to the organisers, Verity Burke and Clare Stainthorp, at and

University of Pennsylvania
Literature and Science, Pre-1900

The English Department invites applications for a tenure-track position at the rank of Assistant Professor with expertise in literature and science before 1900. Conferral of Ph.D. by July 1, 2016 is expected. All applicants working in the medieval, early modern, long eighteenth-century, Romantic, and Victorian periods will be considered; transatlantic and global perspectives are also welcome. We are especially interested in applicants who work across traditional period boundaries and are conversant with recent theoretical debates in science studies. Research and teaching interests may include, but are not limited to, medicine, race and anthropology, technology and information, natural philosophy, animal studies, and the environment.

Applicants should submit the following materials electronically at a cover letter, a two-page dissertation or book abstract, a curriculum vitae, a writing sample (20-25 pages), and contact information for three individuals who have agreed to provide a letter of recommendation. Recommenders will be contacted by the University with instructions on how to submit a letter to the website. Review of applications will begin October 26th, 2015 and continue until the position is filled. Preliminary interviews will be conducted by Skype.

The Department of English is strongly committed to Penn’s Action Plan for Faculty Diversity and Excellence and to creating a more diverse faculty (for more information see: The University of Pennsylvania is an EOE. Minorities/Women/Individuals with disabilities/Protected Veterans are encouraged to apply.

The Journal of Literature and Science is once again looking for reviewers to review various articles in the field literature and science published in the last year to 18 months.

Just to remind members, the JLS is unique in reviewing journal articles rather than books in the fields of literature and science and the history and philosophy of science. As such, we believe our reviews offer scholars and students a truly valuable guide to some of the most recent and cutting edge research in the field.

Please find below are a number of articles that we would like to offer members the chance to review for the Journal’s forthcoming 2015 issuse. Its largely first come, first served, so do get in touch with an offer to do a specific article

I’d also be very happy for members to suggest other relevant articles for review that they may have come across and that aren’t listed below – please do let me know.

Many thanks and I look forward to hearing from you,

Michelle Geric



Megan Molenda LeMay, “Bleeding over Species Lines: Writing against Cartographies of the Human in Queer of Color Fiction.” Configurations 22. 1 (2014) 1-27.

Naomi Rokotnitz, “‘Passionate Reciprocity’: Love, Existentialism, and Bodily Knowledge in The French Lieutenant’s Woman.Partial Answers: Journal of Literature and the History of Ideas 12. 2 (2014) 331-354.

Anna Neill, “The Machinate Literary Animal: Butlerian Science for the Twenty-first Century.” Configurations 22. 1 (2014) 57-77.

Stephanie L. Schatz, “Lewis Carroll’s Dream-child and Victorian Child Psychology.” Journal of the History of Ideas 76. 1 (2015) 93-114.

Allison Speicher, “A Space for Science: Science Education and the Domestic in Louisa May Alcott’s Little Men.” Partial Answers: Journal of Literature and the History of Ideas 12: 1 (2014): 63-85.

Ian Duncan, “George Eliot’s Science Fiction.” Representations 125. 1 (2014) 15-39.

Lauren Cameron, “Spencerian Evolutionary Psychology in Daniel Deronda.Victorian Literature and Culture 43. 1 (2015) 63- 81.

Markus Iseli, ”Thomas De Quincey’s Subconscious: Nineteenth-Century Intimations of the Cognitive Unconscious.” Romanticism 20.3 (2014) 294-305.

Fred Blick, “Wordsworth's Dark Joke in ‘The Barberry-Tree’: The Influence of Humphry Davy, Coleridge and the ‘Gang’.”Romanticism 20.3 (2014) 246-260.

John Robbins, “Up in the Air: Balloonomania and Scientific Performance.” Eighteenth-Century Studies 48.4 (2015): 521-538.


Reviews should be 750 words long and should offer both a description of the article as well as an analysis of its achievements. For more details please follow the link or contact Michelle Geric to register your interest.


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 Maria Avxentevskaya's essay titled 'The Spiritual Optics of Narrative: John Wilkins's Popularization of Copernicanism'.

We offer our many congratulations to Maria.

The judging panel wrote: "This a thoroughly convincing and exceptionally well-argued essay that is a deserving winner of the 2015 prize. The reading of Wilkins’s Discovery is consistently illuminating as an account of the logic of early modern scientific argument and its appeal to probability according to moral rather than empirical authority. The analysis is meticulous and builds up to an impressively coherent picture. The move at the end of the essay to show how Wilkins remains concerned to establish the truth of the physical world, and not simply to win the rhetorical argument, is an important and salutary reminder that we have to avoid imposing our own standards on early modern modes of argument, as well as grounding Wilkins’s own shift to the position of a founder of the Royal Society. The essay combines these acutely historicized arguments with fine close reading to produce a work of real intellectual achievement."

As in previous years the level of competition was high, with some extremely good essays on a range of literature and science topics submitted for consideration. The judges were impressed by the vitality of the work and by the obvious strength of the field.

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

The University of Roehampton will be holding a colloquium on Erasmus and Charles Darwin on Friday 4th September. To see the full programme and to register, click here. There is a discount on the registration fee for members of the BSLS.

Science Fiction and the Medical Humanities

As part of the Wellcome Trust funded project 'Science Fiction and the Medical Humanities', the BMJ Group journal Medical Humanities will be publishing a special issue.

We invite papers of broad interest to an international readership of medical humanities scholars and practising clinicians on the topic 'Science Fiction and the Medical Humanities'.

Science fiction is a fertile ground for the imagining of biomedical advances. Technologies such as cloning, prosthetics, and rejuvenation are frequently encountered in science-fiction stories. Science fiction also offers alternative ideals of health and wellbeing, and imagines new forms of disease and suffering. The special issue seeks papers that explore issues of health, illness, and medicine in science-fiction narratives within a variety of media (written word, graphic novel, theatre, dance, film and television, etc.).

We are also particularly interested in articles that explore the biomedical 'technoscientific imaginary': the culturally-embedded imagining of futures enabled by technoscientific innovation. We especially welcome papers that explore science-fiction tropes, motifs, and narratives within medical and health-related discourses, practices, and institutions. The question - how does the biomedical technoscientific imaginary permeate the everyday and expert worlds of modern medicine and healthcare? - may be a useful prompt for potential authors.

For further details on call and project

Twitter @scifimedhums

Texts and Contexts: The Cultural Legacies of Ada Lovelace

“That brain of mine is more than merely mortal; as time will show.”

A workshop for graduate students and early career researchers

Tuesday 8th December 2015

Mathematics Institute and St Anne’s College, Oxford


The mathematician Ada Lovelace (1815-1852), daughter of poet Lord Byron, is celebrated as a pioneer of computer science. The notes she added to her translation of Luigi Menabrea’s paper on Charles Babbage’s analytical engine (1843) are considered to contain a prototype computer program. During her short life, Lovelace not only contributed original ideas to the plans for this early computer; she also imagined wider possibilities for the engine, such as its application to music, and meditated on its limitations. Lovelace leaves a legacy not just as a computer scientist, but also as a muse for literary writers, a model to help us understand the role of women in science in the nineteenth century, and an inspiration for neo-Victorian and steampunk traditions.


As part of the University of Oxford’s celebrations to mark the 200th anniversary of Lovelace’s birth, this one-day workshop will bring together graduates and early career researchers to discuss the varied cultural legacies of this extraordinary mathematician. The day will feature an expert panel including graphic novelist Sydney Padua and biographer Richard Holmes.


The day will conclude with a reception and buffet when there will be opportunities to meet with speakers from the Ada Lovelace 200 Symposium, which will also take place in the Mathematics Institute on the following two days (9th-10th December). Researchers from all disciplines are invited to submit proposals for papers on the influences of Lovelace’s work, on topics including, but not limited to, literature, history, mathematics, music, visual art, and computer science. This might include:


  • Lovelace’s place in the study of the history of science.
  • Lovelace and women in science in the nineteenth century
  • Early nineteenth-century scientific networks, including Lovelace’s relationship with such individuals as Charles Babbage and Mary Somerville.
  • Lovelace and discussions about the role of the imagination in scientific practice in the nineteenth century.
  • Lovelace as translator and commentator.
  • Mathematics and music, and the musical possibilities Lovelace envisaged for Babbage’s engine.
  • Lovelace’s own textual legacies, such as her correspondence, childhood exercises and mathematical notes held in the Bodleian.
  • Lovelace’s technological legacies, from her seminal work on Babbage’s Analytical Engine to her impact on computer programming today.
  • Lovelace’s role in the steampunk tradition, from Gibson and Sterling’s The Difference Engine to Sydney Padua’s The Thrilling Adventures of Lovelace and Babbage, and neo-Victorian fashion.
  • Efforts and activities to commemorate and memorialise Lovelace, from the recent Google Doodle to the annual Ada Lovelace Day.


Proposals, not exceeding 250 words, for 15-minute papers should be submitted to 5pm, Friday 28th August 2015. Those who are accepted to speak at this graduate workshop will also be offered free registration for the Ada Lovelace 200 Symposium taking place on the following two days. For more information, please visit

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 2016 conference) will be considered.

Recent events supported by the scheme include EXEWHIRR, a public-engagement event on ‘The Human-Technology Relationship through the Ages’ at the Bike Shed in Exeter; a symposium on ‘Biomedical Science and the Maternal Body’ at the University of Southampton organised by the Postgraduate Contemporary Women’s Writing Network; and a postgraduate conference on ‘Abnormality and the Abnormal in the 19th Century’ organised by the Centre for Nineteenth-Century Studies at Durham University.

Applicants should be current members of BSLS and should apply by making a case, in up to 300 words, for how the award will contribute to the development of literature and science. A brief outline of the costs of the project should be appended. 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.

The application should be e-mailed, as a Word attachment, to the BSLS Secretary, Peter Middleton, by Friday September 11th, 2015. Please put 'BSLS small grant' in the subject heading of your email. Applications will be considered by the BSLS Executive Committee later in September. Applicants may apply for any amount up to £400; in some instances a proportion of the amount applied for may be awarded. Successful applicants will be informed by the end of September.

Queries about the scheme should be directed to Peter Middleton. 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.

You are warmly invited to join us on Tuesday 2 June, when Professor Angelique Richardson (Exeter) will be addressing our Seminar with her paper entitled: ‘Hardy and the Scientific Imagination’.

We begin at 5:30pm in Room G24, Foster Court, University College London, Malet Place, London WC1.
Directions to this building can be found here:
Professor Angelique Richardson's paper will be followed by questions and discussion, and the meeting will conclude with a glass of wine at 7:30pm.
‘Hardy and the Scientific Imagination’.

This talk will explore ways in which Thomas Hardy took up aspects of science in his novels and poetry.  Considering his definition of science, and its role in fiction, it will focus in particular on his treatment of mind body relations during the 1870s and 1880s when the leading scientists and philosophers of his day were grappling with similar questions.

Professor Angelique Richardson (Exeter): Angelique Richardson is Associate Professor of English at the University of Exeter. Her books include Love and Eugenics in the Late Nineteenth Century, 2003, and, as editor, Women Who Did: Stories by Men and Women, 1890-1914, 2005, and After Darwin: Animals, Emotions, and the Mind, 2013. Her monograph Thomas Hardy and the Politics of Biology: Character, Culture and Environment is forthcoming.

Registration is now open for a one-day conference on the subject of 'Romanticism and the South West', a conference which re-assesses the importance of the South West in Romantic thought and writing.

The conference aims to explore the importance of the South West for Romantic writers, with a particular emphasis on the following topics:

  1. Ecologically aware writing and protoenvironmental thought;
  2. The role of the South West in an era of scientific development and discovery;
  3. The South West as a centre for reform movements and radical politics, as well as a region connected to slavery and imperialism;
  4. Romantic afterlives in the South West.

For more information please visit

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