November 2010

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The University of Edinburgh, May 28-29 2011

Confirmed Keynote Speakers: Dr. Patricia MacCormack (Anglia Ruskin University), Dr. Luciana Parisi (Goldsmiths, University of London), and Dr. Johanna Oksala (University of Dundee).

The last two decades have witnessed a turn both to materiality and movement in critical, social and feminist theory. However, theorists of politics and movement often ignore the materiality of the body that moves – and theorists of embodiment and material life sometimes forget the fluidity of physical existence. Bodies are always already in movement: embodied processes are subject to both the numerous biological and chemical functions of materiality, as well as the theoretical and social mechanisms of material subjectivity. Recent feminist and critical theorists have attempted to unite these analogous although separate spheres by interchangeably engaging with philosophical theories of embodiment and movement and scientific disciplines such as neuroscience, quantum physics and biotechnology. This two-day interdisciplinary conference positions itself in this shift: it aims to investigate the theoretical/scientific/political/social/cultural/literary/virtual spaces where embodied processes occur.

The organisers warmly welcome proposals for 20-minute presentations or 90-minute panels from established scholars, postdoctoral researchers and postgraduate students from any backgrounds in the Humanities, for example literature, media and art studies as well as philosophy, history of science, and critical and cultural theory. Interdisciplinary approaches are strongly encouraged.

Possible topics may include (but are by no way limited to): Biopower, biotechnology and subjectivity - Biotechnical/corporeal cartography - Corporeality vs non-corporeality - Specific turns to corporeality in literature, media and the arts - Body as object/ object- and thing-theory - Transpositioning/ transformation/ movement - Movement, gender and sexuality - Virtual embodiment and movement. 

Abstracts of 250-300 words should be submitted to by Monday 31st January 2011. The abstract should also include a 50-word biographical note and AV requests.

General enquiries should be directed to the conference organisers: Dr. Karin Sellberg (University of Edinburgh), Lena Wånggren (University of Edinburgh), Kamillea Aghtan and Dr. Maria Parsons (Institute of Art and Design, Dublin, Ireland).

Contact Details:


Conference Blog:

At this one-day workshop, speakers and attendees examined together questions that went far beyond the ordinary distinctions of disciplines, periods or institutions.  The event was superbly organised by Warwick University Institute of Advanced Study Early Career Fellowship holders Sarah Easterby-Smith and Emily Senior, who also outlined the day’s themes (for an excellent summary, see  The papers were so tremendously wide-ranging that—ironically, perhaps, in relation to the reference to ‘natural knowledge’—there were no ‘natural’ pairings.  Instead, the juxtapositions attempted to align scholarly discussions in innovative ways, providing an exciting model for future interdisciplinary events.

The first session began with Judith Hawley’s discussion of Scriblerian responses to natural philosophy, followed by John Christie’s insights into conjunctions between the writings of Anna Laetitia Barbauld and Joseph Priestley.  After midday, Simona Girleanu talked about the embellisement of 18th-century Paris and Clare Bryant presented her findings on the ‘disorderliness’ of English ballooning.  In the afternoon, Miles Ogborn talked about the ‘talk’ of Jamaican medical botany, which was followed by Melanie Keene on the ‘familiarity’ of mid-Victorian ‘object’ lessons.  The last formal session turned to machines, with Florence Grant’s study of George III’s scientific instruments and Philippa Hubbard’s findings on the use of graphic print cultures in popular science.  The range of topics demonstrated magnificently that ‘interdisciplinarity’ involves so much more than apparently contrasting disciplines; instead, it involves every aspect of our experience – its history and materiality, its pedagogy and philosophy, its images, literature and machines.

At the final session, three leading interdisciplinary scholars (Michael Rosenthal, Claudia Stein and Colin Jones) led an exciting roundtable discussion on what had emerged from the day and its relevance for academia today.  Naturally, in the current climate of harsh HE humanities’ cuts, the issues of what constitutes ‘useful’ knowledge, ‘pure’ knowledge and the usefulness of scholarly curiosity were forefront in people’s minds.  At the same time, it was cause for comment that most of the day’s papers involved specifically English histories and adopted similar scholarly methodologies.  It was an astute observation and one that led to the key question of whether current academic approaches are becoming altogether too familiar to participants in the humanities.  If there is any solution to that problem, perhaps it may lie in the further innovations, explorations and applications of interdisciplinarity.

A literature and science colloquium at the Anatomy Museum, King's College London, Strand Campus. All welcome.

Speakers: David Amigoni, Isobel Armstrong, Audrey Linkman, Paul White and Alison Wood.

How and what did the Victorians see? From blinking to staring, observing, voyeurism, to conjuring spectral visions of the dead, the Victorian imaginaire derived much of its power from the aqueous life of the eyeball. But to what worlds, both real and imagined, did their manifold forms of visualisation take them?


1.00 –1.30pm Coffee & tea

1.30pm  Welcome & Opening remarks

1.45 – 3.30 pm Session 1

Panel Chair:  Ian Henderson (KCL)
Alison Wood (KCL): ‘Image and Wonder: Stebbing, Gosse and the Miraculous Lens’
Paul White (Cambridge): ‘The Eye Observed’
David Amigoni (Keele): ‘“The Picture is Quite Washed Out”: Eye Power and Vision in Galton and Late Darwin’

3.30 – 4.00 pm Coffee & tea  

4.00 – 5.30 pm Session 2

Panel Chair: Josephine McDonagh (KCL)
Audrey Linkman (Independent): ‘Taken from Life: Post-Mortem Portraits in the Victorian Family Album’
Isobel Armstrong (Birkbeck): ‘Victorian Poetry and the Poetics of the Photograph’

5.30 – 6.00pm Wine Reception

All welcome and entrance is free. For more details, please see the KCL Shows of London website, or contact Tammy Ho ( or Dr Louise Lee (

Nearest tube: District Line, Temple.