Symposium

Each year the BSLS supports a one-day symposium on any theme related to the research interests of the BSLS.

 

2016 Symposium The Politics of Literature and Science

This BSLS Winter Symposium will explore relationships between politics, science, medicine, literature and visual culture. We will take ‘politics’ in both its broadest sense—considering for example, the politics of the body, the politics of scientific institutions, and how scientific and political discourse has shaped imaginative forms of expression (and vice versa). We will also take ‘politics’ in a more specific sense, to address how literary writers and artists actively intervened in specific medico-political debates, or how their novels, poems and plays acted as ‘mediums’ of scientific and political cross-pollination.

 

2015 Symposium Science in the Archives

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

 

2014 Symposium Teaching Literature and Science

Literature and Science is currently gaining popularity amongst undergraduates, but opportunities for discussing how – and why – to teach it remain thin on the ground. This symposium is designed to help further that discussion by incorporating a broad range of sessions and remaining mindful of the range and variety within our subject area.

Taking a 360-degree perspective on teaching literature and science, our sessions invite contributions from students as well as academic convenors. We are also committed to inviting contributions from those teaching literature and science across all historical periods, working across international educational contexts as well as within the British HE system.

Involving between thirty and forty delegates – for whom attendance will be free – this will be a one-day event incorporating six sessions in a range of formats. In an attempt to maximise discussion and minimise preparation time, 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. We are particularly keen to draw out and share individuals’ teaching experiences, and it is for that reason that the day is built around ‘the wall’, an exchange of syllabus and teaching ideas which coincides with lunch. All delegates will be asked to complete a short questionnaire about their own expertise and interests at registration, and this information will be used to drive many of the sessions, particularly the afternoon workshop on course design.

We see this symposium as an important opportunity to reflect on the big questions which underlie our teaching, and the opening session, ‘Why should we teach Literature and Science?’, is designed to stimulate this discussion. But this is also an opportunity to tackle some of the pragmatics of introducing undergraduates to our discipline, and an afternoon session on ‘Negotiating University Structures’ will ensure that the bureaucratic side of this enterprise is not neglected. Generous Q&A time is built into each session, and structured discussions are deliberately varied between small and large groups.

Many of us teach literature and science on our own initiative, coping individually with both the joys and challenges raised by the endeavour. This is an important chance to consolidate those experiences and build strategies – and collegial networks – which will continue to drive the field forward at its grass roots: undergraduate teaching.