CFP: (Dis)Entangling Darwin

(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