BSLS Winter Symposium 2022

The Subterranean Anthropocene: Excavation, Extracting, Uncovering
From Classical to Contemporary Literature

12 November 2022 — Online via Zoom

Keynotes TBA

“Blue marble” images of earth are often synonymous with environmental campaigns and anthropocentric thinking. But by always thinking of earth from above, have we forgotten earth from below? In recent discussions of the Anthropocene, geographers Maria de Lourdes Melo Zurita, Paul George Munro, and Donna Houston argue that “the role of the underground has been discursively absent from contemporary debates about the Anthropocene”, reminding us that “the challenges of the Anthropocene are very much entangled with the underground’s past, present and future” (2018).

By excavating the subterranean, we can unearth long-held ideologies of knowledge, value, memory, and fear. And literature has long engaged with this too. The subterranean in fiction, from Dante’s Inferno, to Alice’s descent into Wonderland, to Jules Verne’s Journey to the Center of the Earth, represents underground space in myriad ways - as the stratification of the mind, as encountering the repressed, as the invisible labour of the working classes. Literary analysis, too, engages with a subterranean vocabulary of “mining” meaning, of processes of “discovering”, “uncovering”, and “bringing to light”. The specialisation of the sciences across the nineteenth century popularised the idea of the “quest narrative” being a process of seeking truth underground, as geology, palaeontology, anthropology, archaeology and new ideas about “deep time” located epistemologies beneath the surface, yet literature on both sides of this period imagines underlands as spaces of knowledge, history, value, and fear. This symposium will uncover the subterranean anxieties present in the intersection of literature and science and unbury narratives of extraction, depths, delving, and excavation.

 

The BSLS Winter Symposium will be free and open to all. We welcome 20 minute papers and panels of 3-4 speakers. We particularly encourage submissions from PGRs and ECRs. Topics may include (but are not limited to) the following themes and their intersections with science and literature:

 

  • Mining, minerals, and extraction
  • Tunnelling and travelling underground
  • The subaquatic subterranean
  • Water and ice subterranea
  • Soil, plantlife, roots, fungi
  • Oil, gas and ‘petrofictions’
  • Excavation, uncovering, unearthing
  • Burials and disinterring, bones, fossils
  • Stone, geology, caves
  • Subterranean life - mammals, birds, insects, aquatic life, worms
  • Subterranean, ‘centre of the earth’, and hollow earth fiction
  • Subterranean ‘hell’ and the afterlife

 

 

Please email your bio(s) and abstract(s) to BSLSSymposium2022@gmail.com no later than Sep 30th 2022. Please limit each abstract to 250 words and each bio to 150 words.

The Journal of Literature and Science http://www.literatureandscience.org is looking for reviewers to review various articles published in the last year to 18 months in the field of literature and science.

Please find below a number of articles that we would like to offer for review. It's largely first come, first served, so do get in touch with an offer to review a specific article by emailing Michelle Geric at m.geric@westminster.ac.uk

JLS would also be very happy to receive suggestions for other relevant articles for review that aren’t listed below.

Reviews should be 750 words long. For more details, please follow the link: http://www.literatureandscience.org or contact Michelle at gericm@westminster.ac.uk to register your interest.

 

SUGGESTED ARTICLES: Read the rest of this entry »

SF and Societal Vulnerability: Fragility, Collapse, and Transformation (Deadline for Abstracts: 15 September)

COVID showed us what we already knew, how fragile global capitalist societies are and how unresilient they become when the structures get shocked. Some of those structures deserve to be destroyed (authoritarianism, nationalism, racism, colonialism, labor exploitation, e.g.); others need to be shored up or replaced with even better institutions and practices (healthcare, the planetary ecosystem, wealth equity, social justice, e.g.). When these fragile structures fail, their failures disproportionately affect those least able to bear the harm. And, around the world, the harmful effects of exploitative structures are repeatedly discriminatorily directed.

 

The mass media, as well as scholars and activists from varied disciplines and fields, are already critiquing the “post-COVID” “return to normal” for its failure to emerge from the early years of the pandemic into a world that deliberately and substantially functions differently and better. The future in which we live is going to be made from the present. In all its forms, Speculative fiction has long imagined–more and less plausibly–where we go from here. It isn’t the only literature that does so (so-called realist fiction may focus more on the “here,” but it’s also interested in what’s next). How does fiction depict and engage with societal fragility/lack of resiliency? How does literature imagine alternative, adaptable, and more durable social formations and institutions?  

 

We seek literary critical engagements with alternatives and responses to authortarian/nationalistic/miliaristic political structures arising during the Anthropocene as well as speculative alternatives to the necessary social institutions that are more just, effective, and sustainible. COVID reminds us of what has always been true: our social structures are imperfect; literature, throughout history, has been imagining alternatives. Our hope is to assemble a collection of demonstrations and interventions that explicitly engage readers in calls to action.

 

Possible topics could include but are not limited to:

  • Ecocriticism
  • Ecopunk and solar punk
  • Climate justice
  • Extraction studies
  • Futurism 
  • Animal studies
  • Posthumanism (and all the other prefixes)
  • Utopian studies
  • Race and ethnic studies
  • Decolonization
  • Queer/Queering ecologies

 

Please send abstracts of up to 500 words in length, along with a brief bio of up to 200 words, to jonelmore.english@gmail.com and jennihalpin@gmail.com no later than September 15, 2022, with full chapters to be submitted by March 15, 2023. Most chapters will be in the 6000 to 8000 word range, but we are happy to see well-made arguments of any length. Queries always welcome.

 

Fully funded doctoral studentship: Black and Indigenous Collectors in the Material and Digital Archive

How did Black and Indigenous people shape eighteenth- and/or nineteenth-century knowledge about the natural world? Birkbeck, University of London and the Linnean Society are pleased to announce a fully funded doctoral award to start in Oct 2022. The successful applicant will carry out research on rich archives covering trans-Atlantic networks, investigating the lives of Black and Indigenous individuals crucial to the production of natural knowledge during this period of colonialism and Empire. The final PhD topic will be decided by the successful applicant, in conversation with supervisors, and can cover research into eighteenth- and/or nineteenth-century topics.

Qualification type: PhD

Location: Birkbeck, University of London/the Linnean Society of London

Funding for: UK Students / International Students full and part-time study (visa permitting)

Funding amount: The studentship is subject to UKRI eligibility criteria, and will cover home or international fees and stipend at UKRI rates for a maximum of four years full-time, or seven years part-time study, subject to institutional regulations.

AHRC stipend: for the academic year 2021-22, the stipend will be £18,612 with London weighting. This project also comes with additional funds for national and international travel costs relating to the project, and additional funds to organize public events. Please note: the stipend funding amount typically increases with inflation each academic year.

Closes: Monday 13 June 2022, 5pm For full details and to apply, see: https://www.chase.ac.uk/cdas/black-and-indigenous-collectors or email Dr Emily Senior e.senior@bbk.ac.uk

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

An Online EventProposals due by 30 June

The Winter Symposium is an annual PGR/ECR-led event, with a specific theme proposed by the organisers. This year, the BSLS members at the annual conference expressed particular interest in

·       the Anthropocene,

·       the Material,

·       the Visual, or

·       Translation.

 

While proposals focused on one of these themes would be particularly welcomed, we encourage potential organisers to move forward with any theme associated with literature and science.

Proposals are invited from postgraduates, and from early career researchers who were recently postgraduates, for a one-day online event on a discrete theme to take place in or around November 2022.

Proposals should be no longer than two sides of A4, and should include a description of the event, details of the organisers, potential speakers (if known) and types of papers, panels or other sessions to be included.

The symposium might also cover research training and career advice alongside showcasing ongoing research. It is hoped that each event will have a ‘non-conference’ feel, and include different types of papers, panels, and ways of sharing knowledge.

The BSLS Executive Committee will support the organisers throughout the process in both administrative and technical matters.

The BSLS will award around £500 in support of the symposium, which should be free to attend if possible.

 

Proposals should be emailed to Rachel Murray (RachelEMurray@sheffield.ac.uk) by the 30th of June.

Literature and Science 1922-2022
Universita di Roma, 30-31 March 2023
 
The conference is intended to foster a productive dialogue between the literary and scientific communities. This conference targets issues of contiguity between the human and the external world (animals, plants, objects, the biosphere as a whole), from a decentred, non-anthropomorphic perspective. From this vantage point, it intends to re-examine Modernism: 2022 is also the centenary of both Ulysses and The Waste Land — works that place centre stage figures of knowledge (Ulysses; Tiresias) — foregrounding the human creature’s  uncanny capacity for distancing and domination of cosmic reality through logos and technique.  These modernist classics engage with science; they show the indebtedness of literature to — and alignment with — scientific attitudes and methods(Pound, Huxley, Woolf, M. Moore, Beckett, among many more).
 
Organisers invite submissions focused on, but not limited to, the following topics:
  • Literature and sciences (medicine, psychology, psychoanalysis, anthropology, history, hard and soft sciences)
  • Modernism and science
  • Postmodernism and science
  • Literary criticism as/and science
  • The literary in science
  • Posthumanism
  • Trans-species languages and discourses
  • The human in context: plants
  • The human in context: animals
  • The human in context: the world of objects
  • Philosophy and reality as independent from human thought
  • Mythological figures of the Search for Knowledge (Prometheus, Oedipus, Ulysses)
  • Prosthetic bodies
  • Artificial intelligence
  • Ageing/youth preservation
  • Faith, Science, Literature  

Please send anonymized 300-500-word abstracts in English and a short bio of no more than 150 words  by 31 July 2022 to: literatureandsciencerome2023@gmail.com. Presenters will be notified of acceptance by 30 September  2022.

Deadline: 15 June 2022

As fans of the genre can attest, popular science writing belies the notion of “science” and “literature” as separate domains. Bestselling science writers borrow freely from the techniques of fiction writers to craft compelling narratives, memorable examples, and evocative representations of technical information. Scholars have long recognized the literariness of science writing: as pioneering work by Gillian Beer, George Levine, Devin Griffiths, Donna Haraway, and others attests, it is difficult to overestimate the historical traffic between science and literature. Since the early modern era (if not earlier), writers and scientists have routinely traded metaphors, images, and conceptual frameworks. 

Recently, popular science writing has played an important role in ongoing efforts to recover and celebrate the legacy of figures erased from dominant histories of science, including women, Black people, and queer people. At the same time, the genre raises persistent ethical dilemmas.  Besides the basic matter of whether science ought to be turned into entertainment, there is the matter of how literary devices interact with facts: for example, how might the imperative to use plot and other literary devices restrict what kinds of science becomes “popular” in the first place?  Such questions unfold amid widespread public distrust of science and scientists. Indeed, Bruno Latour’s 2004 musings on critique and climate denialism seem freshly relevant in 2022: what exactly is the role of critique during a time of rampant COVID-19 mis- and disinformation?

The time is ripe for science writing to assume a larger, more thoughtfully theorized place in humanities curricula. Teaching Science Writing aims to equip teacher-scholars with practical strategies for incorporating science writing into humanities courses. The collection will have sections devoted to science writing from previous eras and to twenty-first-century science writing: as such, the editor welcomes essays on “science writing”—as defined by potential contributors themselves—from the medieval era to the present. Potential essay topics might include

  • Practical strategies for pairing science writing with literary or other texts

  • Methods for teaching science writing as literature or applying literary frameworks to popular science writing

  • Using writing by popular science writers such as Elizabeth Kolbert, Ed Yong, Mary Roach, Robin Wall Kimmerer, and Michael Pollan in first-year experience, writing, or general education courses

  • Using contemporary or historical science writing as part of community-engaged courses or service learning

  • Teaching science writing alongside film, television, or other media

  • Performing critique of science writing as it relates to ethical, diversity, or other concerns

  • Using science writing to facilitate interdisciplinary, collaborative, or team teaching

  • Using science writing to challenge or critique traditional disciplinary boundaries, canons, and epistemologies

  • Using science writing to engage nontraditional or underrepresented student populations

Please submit a 250–500-word abstract and a short bio or CV to Lisa Ottum (ottuml@xavier.edu) by 15 June 2022.

Authors will be notified of initial acceptance by late July 2022; pending peer review of the book prospectus, finished essays of 3,500–4,500 words will likely be due in August 2023. Queries are welcome, including requests for feedback on ideas.

Water Works: The Arts of Water Management, 1500–1800
Institute of Humanities, Northumbria University, 22 June 2022
 
At a time of environmental crisis, studying histories of the manipulation of natural resources has never been more important. While our ancestors used different terms to talk of such matters, they engaged with (or stridently disengaged from) the same questions. 
 
This symposium, which has been generously supported by the Institute of Humanities at Northumbria University, aims to draw together expertise from across disciplines to engage with managed and mechanical water systems in the period 1500-1800. Our focus for this multidisciplinary symposium is on how humans have sought to make water work for them—for not only practical but also artistic purposes. 
 
Proposals for 20 minute papers (200-300 words) should be sent to Dr Rosamund Paice (Rosamund.Paice@northumbria.ac.uk) by Friday 22 April 2022, 5pm BST.
 

We're happy to announce the call for the 2022 BSLS/JLS Essay Prize!

Essays, on any topic within the wider field of literature and science, 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 sent by email to both Jordan Kistler, Communications Officer of the BSLS (jordan.kistler@strath.ac.uk), and Martin Willis, Editor of the JLS (willism8@cardiff.ac.uk), by 5pm on Friday, 30th September, 2022.

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

(To join BSLS, go to http://www.bsls.ac.uk/join-us/).

The full call can be read here!

The Cardiff ScienceHumanities Summer School, now in its third year, is in-person in June on the theme of Energies with talks from fabulous scholars on nuclear, extractions, and renewables. There will be a keynote from the brilliant Graeme MacDonald (Warwick). Applications open to UK and international postgrads and newly-minted postdocs. Deadline soon! More info via the ScienceHumanities website at https://tinyurl.com/mry5xms8 or by emailing Martin Willis on willism8@cardiff.ac.uk

Please note that the summer school is free, although participants need to fund their own travel and accommodation.

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