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BSLS members will remember Professor Sharon Ruston’s excellent plenary lecture on Davy at our 2016 conference in Birmingham.  Sharon’s new 4-week MOOC, Humphry Davy: Laughing Gas, Literature, and the Lamp, starts on 30 October.  The course draws on her research as co-editor of Davy’s Collected Letters and her work on Romantic-era literature and science, and is free.  For more information and to register interest, see


Following the success of the JLS/BSLS essay prize in previous years, The JLS and the British Society for Literature and Science would like to announce the 2017 prize for the best new essay by an early career scholar on a topic within the field of literature and science.

Essays should be currently unpublished and not under consideration by another journal. They should be approx. 8,000 words long, inclusive of references, and should be send by email to both Josie Gill, Communications Officer of the BSLS (, and Martin Willis, Editor of the JLS (, by 12 noon on Friday, 11th August, 2017

The prize is open to BSLS members who are postgraduate students or have completed a doctorate within three years of this date.

(To join BSLS, go to

The prize will be judged jointly by representatives of the BSLS and JLS. The winning essay will be announced on the BSLS website and published in the JLS. The winner will also receive a prize of £100.

Read previous prize winning essays in the JLS:


Applications are now invited for the next round of both competitions, each with a deadline of 1st September 2017.

For more information on how to apply and on past awards, please visit our funding page.

Free tickets are still available for this special event at Brighton's Booth Museum of Natural History on Thursday evening, which marks the opening of a new exhibition on birds in literature.

'Flying off the Page: Birds in Literature, Victorian Era to the Present' will explore how birds have been depicted in literature and culture over time.

Please book your place for the event here:

The event is one in a series planned over the summer, funded by the AHRC as a part of a collaborative project on the history of British Nature Writing. See here for more details:



4 - 6 July 2017

University of Leeds

Call for Registration: Mediating Climate Change is an international, multidisciplinary conference taking place at Leeds University, 4th-6th July 2017.

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?

A full Programme of papers, panels, and public events, as well as the Call for Papers and further details, are available on the conference website:

Registration is available via the Leeds University store:

The deadline for registration is 21 June, so register now to avoid disappointment.


For any enquiries, email

The cognitive biologist, W. Tecumseh Fitch begins The Evolution of Language (2010) with the Persian tale of the ‘elephant in the dark house’: each villager touches a different part of the animal and tries to describe what its shape is ‘like’, but none can see, or comprehend, the whole. This parable, as Fitch suggests, raises questions that are particularly pertinent to those who seek to understand such a vast and complex faculty as language. This series of interdisciplinary events at The University of Bristol invites scholars to share their knowledge of the different parts of the animal.

These events draw together recent research in the Arts and Humanities, which has emphasised the difficulties of translating non-human sounds into human forms of signification—words, music, poetry—with recent groundbreaking studies of animal communication in cognitive biology, psychology and linguistics. Join us for a series of talks, workshops, evening events and musical performances with the jazz clarinetist, composer and Distinguished Professor of Philosophy and Music, David Rothenberg (Why Birds Sing, 2005; Berlin Bülbül, 2016).

Invited speakers, guests and performers: IAS Benjamin Meaker Visiting Professor David Rothenberg (Professor of Music and Philosophy, New Jersey Institute of Technology), W. Tecumseh Fitch (Professor of Cognitive Biology, University of Vienna), Stephanie Kuduk Weiner (Professor of English, Wesleyan University), Johan J. Bolhuis (Professor of Cognitive Neurobiology, Utrecht University), Daniel Karlin (Professor of English, University of Bristol), Martin Everaert (Professor of Linguistics, Utrecht University), Experimental Psychologist, Dr. Nina Kazanina (University of Bristol), Computational Neuroscientist, Dr. Conor Houghton (University of Bristol), artist Andy Holden (Tate) and his father, the ornithologist Peter Holden (MBE), and Philip Hoare (author and Professor of Creative Writing, University of Southampton).

Registration closes this Friday 19th May and booking is available through our website:

The Science Fiction Foundation began in 1971 at the former North East London Polytechnic with the joint aim of promoting academic research into sf and greater public understanding of the genre. It has since become a UK-wide network of academics, critics and professional writers with its nominal base at the University of Liverpool, home to the largest research archive devoted to sf in Europe. We currently support or administer the following activities:

  • the peer-reviewed academic journal Foundation
  • the SFF Foundation Collection at the University of Liverpool
  • the annual SFF Masterclass at the Royal Greenwich Observatory
  • the annual Science for Fiction classes at Imperial College London
  • the annual George Hay Lecture at Eastercon
  • the prestigious Arthur C. Clarke Award (with the BSFA and Sci-Fi London)
  • SFF conferences
  • bursaries for early career and independent researchers
  • the book charity SF Outreach
  • major events such as the forthcoming Into the Unknown exhibition (The Barbican)

We are keen not only to continue these activities but also expand upon them. Increased membership will enable us to do that. If you and/or your institution become members of the SFF, you will not only be supporting us in our aims, you will also receive three copies per year of Foundation and have a say at our AGM. Individual membership can be as low as £22/year – full details on membership fees and how to join are available at the SF Foundation website ( The SFF is a registered charity, so if you are a UK taxpayer and you Gift Aid your fee, we will receive an extra donation at no expense to yourself. Our ambition for the SFF is to become not only a national but also a truly international research network.

Do please consider joining today - especially if you or your institution are based overseas. We want the SFF to become not only a national but also a truly international research network. Thank you.

Dr Paul March-Russell, Editor, Foundation: The International Review of Science Fiction

The winner of the 2016 Book Prize is Ursula K. Heise's Imagining Extinction: The Cultural Meanings of Endangered Species (University of Chicago Press). This remarkable, lucid examination of how contemporary culture produces understandings of imperilled nature breaks new ground in its thinking about environmental crisis -- local and global -- and, particularly, the terms in which we see species loss. This original undertaking brilliantly connects multiple fields of enquiry, philosophical, literary, scientific, political, and investigates genres such as the elegy, the database, and speculative fiction. On matters such as global warming, biodiversity, conservation, non-human justice and the anthropocene, Heise's thesis is challenging, nuanced and elegantly reasoned, and Imagining Extinction looks set become a celebrated reference point while revealing new directions for the study of culture and biology, literature and science.

This trans-Atlantic, 2-panel event pairs a panel at the British Society of Literature and Science (BSLS) in Bristol in April 2017 with a roundtable at the annual conference of the Association of Community College and University Teachers of English (ACCUTE) at the Congress of Learned Societies in Toronto in May 2017.


Four papers were presented at the BSLS, and were video recorded and will be the impetus for discussion at the ACCUTE panel. You are welcome to view the BSLS papers here, and participate in the respondent discussion at the ACCUTE Annual Conference. The ACCUTE panel will be on Monday May 29th from 8:45-10:15 am at Ryerson University, Victoria room 104. It is open to the public.


Link to video:


Verity Burke, (Start: 3:45) Doctoral Candidate in English, University of Reading, "The Intermedial Museum in the Nineteenth Century.” [Presentation slides (PDF)]

John Holmes, (Start: 20:15) Professor of Victorian Literature and Culture, University of Birmingham, Poetry and Architecture in the Natural History Museum” [Presentation Handout (PDF)]

Janine Rogers, (Start: 36:05) Professor of Medieval and Sixteenth-Century Literature, Mount Allison University, “Cultural History as a Resource for Science Museumship and Outreach.” [Presentation slides (PDF)]

Sophie Thomas, (Start: 56:10) Associate Professor of English Literature, Ryerson University, “The House-Museums of John Hunter and John Soane (a comparative anatomy).” [Presentation slides (PDF)]

Discussion (Start: 1:10)

A workshop at The Institute for Advanced Studies in the Humanities, University of Edinburgh

29th May 2017

Keynote: Professor Peter Middleton, University of Southampton

'Poetry at the Frontiers of Physics' 

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