June 2009

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Tuesday 28 July 7.00pm–8.30pm

Decoding the heavens

Speaker: Jo Marchant

In 1900, a group of sponge divers blown off course in the Mediterranean discovered an ancient shipwreck, dating from around 70 BC. Lying unnoticed for months amongst the divers' hard-won haul was what appeared to be a formless lump of corroded rock. Then it cracked open, revealing gearwheels, inscriptions and precisely marked scales - it was and still is the most stunning scientific artefact we have from antiquity. For more than a century this 'Antikythera mechanism' has puzzled academics. Author Jo Marchant will tell the story of the 100-year quest to understand this ancient computer and will explain how it used surprisingly sophisticated astronomy to accurately predict the motions of the heavens. This is a story that challenges our assumptions about technology transfer over the ages while giving us fresh insights into history itself.

Admission: Tickets cost £8, £6 concessions, £4 Ri members. You can book tickets online at www.rigb.org or by calling the Events Team on 020 7409 2992 9.00am-5.00pm Monday to Friday.


Venue: The Royal Institution, 21 Albemarle Street, London W1S 4BS


For more information please visit www.rigb.org


Eye of the Storm: An interdisciplinary art and science conference on scientific controversy

Location: Tate Britain, Millbank, London SW1P 4RG, UK

From esoteric arguments over the structure of the universe to highly charged public controversies around the use of stem cells, The Arts Catalyst is bringing together an international line up of artists and scientists to debate today's hot issues in science and society in the Eye of the Storm on 19 and 20 June.

This two-day conference at Tate Britain will touch on brilliance and ego, obsessions and cover-ups, dissent and whistle-blowing, big science, high finance, deviant science, the reliability of knowledge and the legislation of uncertainty. Eye of the Storm develops Tate's mission to present new research and debates within visual culture into the area of contemporary interrelationships between art, science and society.

See the conference website for registration and programme details.

Romantic Disorder: Predisciplinarity and the Divisions of Knowledge 1750-1850

Modern disciplines like geology, history, and anthropology often trace their origins to Romantic-era developments. "Literature," as a distinct category of expressive writing also emerged in conjunction with other disciplines, a synthetic dialogue that would later be characterized as a contentious division between "two cultures." So too do sites such as the gallery, the museum, and the academy emerge around this time as new forms of sociability, as attempts to display unruly arrays of pictures and other eccentric specimens.

What can Romantic-era aesthetic practices contribute to our understandings of the rise of disciplinarity in the nineteenth century? How can the increasing professionalization and isolation of practices like botany, literary criticism, geology, art and theatre reviews, and collecting illuminate the unruly dynamism of aesthetic forms, both verbal and visual? How do the spaces (whether institutional, geographic, or social) of predisciplinary encounters and formations help shape disciplinary discourses, and how do subjects with varying degrees of agency participate in these discourses? Reading against the grain of the "rise of disciplinarity", and trying to undo its teleological short circuits, this conference seeks to engage imaginatively with the possibilities of predisciplinarity.

For information on registration visit the conference Website or write to Jon Millington

Conference Venue: Roberts Building, UCL, Malet Place, Torrington Place, London, WC1E 7JE (opposite the Gower St Waterstones)

Conference Committee: Luisa Calè (Birkbeck), Adriana Craciun (University of California, Riverside), Luciana Martins (Birkbeck).

A Bicentenary Celebration, 1809-2009

2009 marks the bicentenary of the birth of both Charles Darwin and
Alfred Tennyson. Our one-day conference will celebrate this event
by exploring the interaction of literature and science in the Victorian
period, mining the rich vein of research opened up by Professor Dame
Gillian Beer in Darwin’s Plots (1983) and developed by Professor
George Levine in Darwin and the Novelists (1988).

Professors Beer and Levine will both present plenary papers at the
conference, outlining the latest thinking and building on the central
insight that ‘the cultural traffic ran both ways’. Short papers will
therefore explore, not only the influence of Darwin on writers as various
as George Eliot, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and Thomas Hardy, but in
addition the ways in which Victorian scientists, in particular Thomas
Huxley, read and misread Tennyson and other writers, including
Darwin’s favourite novelist Charles Dickens. There will be papers on the
effect of evolutionary debates on women writers, notably Sarah Grand
and Augusta Webster.

Speakers will include David Amigoni, Gowan Dawson, Roger Ebbatson,
Matthew Rowlinson, Marion Shaw, Rebecca Stott and Clive Wilmer.

For further information contact valerie.purton _at_ anglia.ac.uk.

Green Letters: Studies in Ecocriticism 13: Victorian Ecology

Green Letters: Studies in Ecocriticism, the journal of ASLE-UK (the Association for the Study of Literature and the Environment), explores interdisciplinary interfaces between humans and the natural and built environment. Submissions are invited for our spring 2010 edition which will focus on ecological themes in Victorian Literature and Culture.

Submissions may focus on any literary or cultural figures, or literary genres, either in or related to the Victorian period or the nineteenth-century. Examples might include, but need not be limited to the following themes: Victorian literature and science, post-Romanticism, cultural criticism (e.g. Ruskin, Carlyle, Morris), Victorian gothic, the realist novel, evolutionary theory and/or the new physics, key scientific figures (Darwin, Wallace etc), the industrial or urban landscape, Victorian poetry, literature and ‘early green politics’. Articles that relate to nineteenth-century literature within other cultures, especially European cultures, will also be considered. While we do not specify any particular themes, articles should have a broad ecocritical flavour, be informed by ecocritical theory, and seek to establish, where appropriate, connections or divergences with contemporary ecological thinking.

Green Letters is a peer-reviewed journal. Please note that each article should be accompanied by a brief biographical note. Articles should be typed double spaced, with references in the MLA style and any substantial footnotes at the bottom of each page (a more detailed style sheet will be provided on acceptance). Manuscript length should be between 4000 and 6000 words. Eventual submissions should be made via email with a MS Word attachment of the document.

To have a submission considered please send an abstract (approximately 500 words) to GreenLetters@bathspa.ac.uk. The abstract should be sent as an anonymous attachment in Word document format along with a covering email giving your name, address and institutional affiliation. The deadline for abstracts is Monday 22 June. A decision as to which articles will be commissioned will be made in early July and the deadline for submissions will be Friday 29 January 2010.