August 2009

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A symposium on Euclidean geometry in nineteenth- and early twentieth-
century British culture will be held in Cambridge, UK, 1-2 October 2009. The event will be highly interdisciplinary and easily accessible to non-
mathematicians. Speakers include Professors Dame Gillian Beer, Joan L.
Richards, Jeremy Gray, Marilyn Gaull, Linda Henderson and Robin Wilson. We aim to investigate the effects on British literature, art, and architecture of Euclidean geometry's centrality and prestige in the education of Victorian elites, artisans and auto-didacts of both sexes.

The symposium will be held at the Centre for Research in the Arts, Social Sciences and Humanities (CRASSH), and is funded by the European Research Council. Anyone interested in Victorian literature and science, education, or mathematics are very welcome to attend. The regular fee is £20; a reduced rate is available. Please contact the conference organiser,, if you would like to attend.

(Dis)Entangling Darwin: Cross-Disciplinary Reflections
University of Porto, Portugal

2009 marks the bicentenary of Charles Darwin's birth (12 February 1809) and the 150th anniversary of the publication of his groundbreaking On the Origin of Species (24 November 1859). The University of Porto CETAPS (Centre for English, Translation and Anglo-Portuguese Studies) is holding a special conference to honour Charles Darwin's enduring legacy, and examine how his ideas remain central to contemporary research, within and beyond the biological sciences, echoing the global celebrations of his life and work, and his impact across the disciplines.

Keynote speakers include David Amigoni (Keele University, UK) and John Van Wyhe (Cambridge University, UK). Special guest speakers include: Ana Leonor Pereira - Historian, History and Sociology of Science and Culture/Specialist in the History of Darwinism in Portugal (UC); Filipe Furtado - Specialist in English Cultural Studies and in Victorian politics, aesthetics, philosophy and scientific thought, author of various articles on Darwin and Darwinism. (FCSH-UNL); João Cabral - Historian and Botanist. Specialist in Darwin's contributions to nineteenth-century botanical studies (FCUP); Jorge Vieira - Biologist/Molecular Evolution/IBMC (Institute for Molecular and Cell Biology); Maria Teresa Malafaia - Specialist in English/Victorian Studies/Social Darwinism (UL); Nuno Ferrand - Biologist. CIBIO coordinator (Research Center in Biodiversity and Genetic Resources - UP); Octávio Mateus - Biologist and Paleontologist (specialist in Dinosaurs. FCT-UNL/Museum of Lourinhã).

The conference title draws inspiration from the notable conclusion of Darwin's On the Origin of Species. In it he writes:

It is interesting to contemplate an entangled bank, clothed with many plants of many kinds, with birds singing on the bushes, with various insects flitting about, and with worms crawling through the damp earth, and to reflect that these elaborately constructed forms, so different from each other, and dependent on each other in so complex a manner, have all been produced by laws acting around us [...] There is grandeur in this view of life, with its several powers, having been originally breathed into a few forms or into one; and that, whilst this planet has gone cycling on according to the fixed law of gravity, from so simple a beginning endless forms most beautiful and most wonderful have been, and are being, evolved.

Darwin's descriptions rely on the formulation of incredibly complex and visual pictures, often portrayed in a series of "imaginary illustrations" which combine colourful arrangements of both facts and suppositions. The reader is constantly involved in a visual perceptual chaos of entanglements and webbed relationships, performances and theatricalities, exhibiting the way in which the human, animal and natural worlds are mutually imbricated. This conference wishes to contribute to the ongoing disentanglement of Darwin's legacy, which remains as controversial to twenty-first century critics as it was to Darwin's contemporaries. There are still many missing links and inherent contradictions that continue to attract growing, interdisciplinary attention from a wide range of specialisms. All in all, the re-drawing of physical and psychological frontiers demanded by evolutionary theory in an attempt to define what is meant by human nature is still very much in progress, validating at the same time extraordinary opportunities for further research.

We welcome 20-minute papers in English dealing with all aspects of Darwin's legacy, from science to literature and the social sciences, the visual arts, religion, philosophy, politics and cultural relations. Please include the following information with your proposal: the full title of your paper; a 250-300 word abstract; your name, postal address and e-mail address; your institutional affiliation and position; any audiovisual requirements you may have. The deadline for proposals is 15 October 2009. Participants will be notified of acceptance no later than 31 October 2009.

Inquiries and proposals should be sent to the following e-mail: Conference fee: 60,00 ? (includes coffee breaks and Friday lunch). Attendance is free for UP students. OPTIONAL - Conference Dinner (Friday): 20 ? Please check the Porto Faculty of Letters/Sigarra website for updates. Additional Information Porto Airport Organising Committee Fátima Vieira Jorge Bastos da Silva Sara Graça da Silva

A one-day interdisciplinary postgraduate conference exploring intersections of the natural world with nineteenth-century literature
and culture, to be held at the University of Edinburgh, Saturday, 6 February 2010.
Keynote speakers: Dr Martin Willis, University of Glamorgan, Dr Christine Ferguson, University of Glasgow, Professor Nick Daly, University College Dublin.

In the twenty-first century, environmentalism and the impacts of climate change form a nexus of intense debates about relationship between human culture and the natural world. However, the centrality of the natural world to the nineteenth century imagination has long been acknowledged by scholars, way-marked by Lynn Merrill's The Romance of Victorian Natural History (1989) for example, while Mike Davis's Late Victorian Holocausts: El Nino Famines and the Making of the Third World (2002) demonstrates the relevance of nineteenth-century research to the modern world.

This conference probes the significance of nature to the long nineteenth century and to our study of its literature, history, science, art, and other media. How did the natural world influence people in the nineteenth century?and how did nineteenth-century culture shape attitudes to the natural world? Have twenty-first century questions over nature, climate, and the environment changed the way we view and study the cultural products of the nineteenth century, or offered new avenues for research, especially interdisciplinary research?

Possible topics could include but are not limited to:
Representations of nature in history, literature, drama, poetry, art, theatre Representations of, or human relationships with: oceans and the seaside, mountains and the countryside, rivers, lakes, gardens, working animals, pets Natural history, specimens, collecting, displaying Science and human or animal nature: hybridity, husbandry, eugenics; Darwinism and biology; Lyell and geology Climate change, environmentalism, eco-criticism, the ecotopia The natural world in romance, Gothic, the fantastic Natural horror, biological monstrosity and the limits of the human The (un)natural city, machine, media The (super)natural world: ghosts, spiritualism, Gothic Theoretical approaches to human and animal nature or the representation of nature.

Postgraduate and early-career researchers are invited to submit 300 word proposals for 20 minute papers or proposals for panels to by 16 November 2009. .

Organisers: Claire McKechnie, University of Edinburgh and Dr Emily Alder, Edinburgh Napier University. Contact us at

We are grateful for the support of the British Association for Victorian Studies, the British Society for Literature and Science, and the Centre for Literature and Writing at Edinburgh Napier University.