June 2010

You are currently browsing the monthly archive for June 2010.

So that readers of the BSLS website can readily trace the authors of BSLS book reviews, I have set up a new index of book reviews ordered by reviewer, to complement the existing indexes by author and date. You can find this index in the main menu down the side of this page, or by going to the reviews page itself.

John Holmes, Reviews Editor

George Levine, winner of the BSLS book prize for 2008, has written a review essay on Brian Boyd's much discussed new book On the Origin of Stories, which was shortlisted for the BSLS book prize for 2009. To read his essay, click here.

Deadline: Wednesday 30 June, 2010

The concluding conference in the Mellon Sawyer Seminar Series Modelling Futures: Understanding Risk and Uncertainty. Tuesday, 28 September 2010 to Thursday, 30 September 2010
Location: Gillespie Conference Centre, Clare College, Queens Road, Cambridge and Mill Lane Lecture Rooms 2010.

All disciplines are welcome, and inter-disciplinary treatments are particularly encouraged.  For further details, please see http://www.crassh.cam.ac.uk/.

Conference organized by the research group Literature and Science, Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures, The University of Bergen 9-10 December 2010

Invited speakers include:

Nick Daly, Professor of English Literature, University College, Dublin; Joanna Zylinska, Reader in New Media and Communications, Goldsmiths College, University of London; Dr. Paola Spinozzi, English literature, University of Ferrara; Ole M. Høystad, Professor of Cultural Studies, Syddansk Universitet, Odense.

As we prepare to enter the second decade of the 21st century, the long history of fascination with the specifically human and its limits continues to intrigue, constantly inspiring new perspectives, developing in complexity and changing in actuality along with current advances in science and technology. Since La Mettrie published L’Homme Machine in 1747, extending the Cartesian analogy of the machine from its application to animal and human bodies to apply to the bodies and minds of humans, conceptions of the human being as a function of purely physiological processes have grown increasingly dominant. In more and more complex ways, nature and mankind are understood not simply by means of technological advances, but as projections of new technologies. Today’s intelligent machines serve as means as well as models in attempts at understanding and controlling biological as well as cognitive processes. Experiments in cybernetics and bio-cybernetics are producing new combinations of humans, animals and machines: mice with human brain cells, pigs with human blood, genetically engineered or computer-simulated (human) life. At the same time, the post-humanist community of humans, animals and machines remains a site of conflicting ethics and emotions, haunted, some would say, by the “lost soul” of humanism. The fundamental question is still with us: how to think (and rethink) the limits of the human in the wake of the post-humanist critique?

The objective of this conference is to address the changing notions of the human in the age of cyborgs and neuro-implants, but also to open up for longer historical views. We therefore welcome a range of approaches – historical, theoretical, ethical and aesthetical – to the idea of the (specifically) human and its limits; its points of transition and contact with other modes of being (animate or inanimate, virtual or material). Proposed topics might address:

  • The role of literature and the arts in defining the nature and limits of the human
  • What it means to be human and what it might mean to be non-human: ahuman, ab-human, parahuman
  • Aesthetic and cultural preoccupations with mutants, cyborgs, monsters and aliens
  • Metamorphosis, hybridity, transformation
  • Automatism and animism as defamiliarising devices
  • Literary topoi such as naturalism’s bête humaine or futurism’s idealized machines
  • Human evolution in relation to technology and tools
  • Biotechnology, genetic mapping and engineering; prosthetics
  • Cognitive science, Neuroscience and Evolutionary theory
  • Historical, philosophical and aesthetic approaches to the body/mind relationship
  • Emotion and affect

The organisers invite proposals for twenty-minute research papers on these or other aspects of the conference topic. Please e-mail your proposed topic and preliminary paper title by 30 July, followed by a 250-word abstract by 1 September, to one of the following addresses:

Margareth.hagen@if.uib.no OR Randi.Koppen@if.uib.no OR Margery.Skagen@if.uib.no

The symposium aims to bring together researchers interested in the life, letters and works of John Tyndall, and to discuss the current international project to transcribe his letters of correspondence. The symposium will be held in the Leeds Humanities Research Institute, on Clarendon Place within the University of Leeds. For details, see http://www.personal.leeds.ac.uk/~ph07maf/tyndall.htm. Registration fee £5, to be paid on the day. If you would like to attend the event, please contact Mike Finn (ph07maf@leeds.ac.uk) by Friday 18th June.

On the Human

BSLS members may be interested in the National Humanities Center's project 'On the Human', which is an online forum for humanities scholars and scientists to 'share their ideas and research'.  A number of eminent scholars in the literature and science field have published essays in the forum, including N. Katherine Hayles ('Distributing/Disturbing the Chinese Room') and Joseph Carroll ('The Adaptive Function of Literature and the Other Arts'), and each is followed by substantial comments from other scholars.  On 21 June, the site will publish a new essay on 'Late Darwin and the Problem of the Human' by the Society's President, Professor Dame Gillian Beer.

‘Such Total and Prodigious Alteration’ / ‘The Wounds May Be Again Bound Up’:

Readings and Representations of the Seventeenth Century

An academic conference to be held in Chetham’s Library, Manchester, 28th-29th January, 2011

During the restoration and eighteenth century, the civil war period was consistently represented as a traumatic break in the history of England and the British Isles, separating the institutionally and culturally modern Augustans from either the primitiveness or idealised simplicity of the earlier epoch. Today, much academic practice silently repeats the period’s self-representation as a century divided between pre and post civil war cultures, whether in research, job descriptions or in undergraduate survey courses. Among the effects of this division of labour is a tendency for the earlier ‘Renaissance’ decades to be privileged over the restoration, which is frequently treated as a poor relation to the eighteenth century.

This conference provides a forum for researchers in all disciplines whose work spans all or any part of the long seventeenth century. As our titular quotations from Clarendon’s History of the Rebellion and Swift’s sermon ‘On the Martyrdom of King Charles I’ suggest, we also encourage papers on subsequent imaginings of the period that have contributed to or contested the ways in which it is read today.

Concerns include but are not limited to:

  • The comparative study of seventeenth-century writing, sciences, visual arts and music before, during and after the civil war period; their material and intellectual dissemination; their relationship to ideas of what constitutes the early modern and the restoration.
  • Constructions of the seventeenth century from the restoration to the present;
  • representations in literature, art, history and film; the cultural influence of the seventeenth century on subsequent periods.
  • The role critical theory can play in our reading of the period and/or narratives of the long seventeenth century from within literary criticism and critical theory; e.g. Leavis and Eliot on the Metaphysical poets, Walter Benjamin on the baroque,Foucault on madness, Habermas on the public sphere.
  • The study of non-canonical and marginalized texts and materials, and nationally comparative readings of the period.
  • The representation and reception of pre-seventeenth-century culture during the seventeenth century; the place of the past in the period’s self-representations.

Please send abstracts of 300-500 words to James Smith (Manchester) and Joel Swann (Keele) by 15th October 2010: c17.conference@manchester.ac.uk. Further information:

http://www.chethams.org.uk/c17conference.html. Proposals from postgraduate students are particularly welcome and student attendance will be subsidised by the generous support of the Society for Renaissance Studies.