January 2011

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Tuesday 8 February 7.00pm–8.30pm

Speaker: Philip Ball

 Philip Ball delves beneath the surface of the cultural history of ‘anthropoeia’ – the creation of artificial people – to explore what it tells us about our views on life, humanity, creativity and technology, and the soul. He suggests that, from the legendary inventor Daedalus to Goethe’s tragic Faust and the automata-making magicians of E.T.A Hoffmann, the old tales and myths are alive and well, subtly manipulating the current debates about assisted conception, embryo research and human cloning, which have at last made the fantasy of ‘making people’ into some kind of reality.

 Admission: Tickets cost £10, £7 concessions, £5 Ri members. You can book tickets online at www.rigb.org

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

The closing date for receipt of applications is Friday 11th February 2011.

St John's College intends to offer up to six Visiting Scholarships during the period mid-July to mid September 2011. Applicants must be academic teaching staff who hold a tenured post in a UK university and will do so for the duration of the scholarship.  Scholarships are not available to graduate students or to research assistants.  The Scholarships will be tenable for up to six weeks and are intended to support the holders in a current programme of research. The successful applicants will be able to use the libraries of the University of Oxford, for example, the Bodleian, the Ashmolean, and the Taylor Institution Library.

The College will provide free accommodation and meals. Meals will be taken in the Senior Common Room, of which the Visiting Scholars will be made temporary members, and accommodation will be in single student rooms. The College is unable to offer parking facilities. Neither can it offer any facilities (including accommodation) to spouses, partners or family members.

The following criteria will be taken into account when considering applications for Visiting Scholarships:

  • The merit of each application and of the research topic, and how much work might be done during the period.
  • Whether the Oxford libraries and facilities in particular are needed for the research the applicant wishes to pursue.
  • How hard/easy access to Oxford is presently for the applicant (for instance, those based hundreds of miles away will usually have priority over those based in, for example, London, assuming all other criteria are equal); how recently the applicant has had access to Oxford facilities.

There is no application form for these scholarships. Applications, in the form of a letter, should be posted to the Academic Administrator, St John's College, Oxford, OX1 3JP and should include a full CV and details of the proposed work to be carried out whilst in Oxford. The name and address of one referee who has agreed to give an opinion if requested to do so should also be included. 

It is likely that successful applicants will be notified during the first two weeks of May 2011.  Please note that emailed and faxed applications will not be accepted.  St. John's College exists to support excellence in education and research, and is committed to equal opportunities.


University of Salford Public Lecture: Tuesday, 22 February 2011 5.30pm — 7.00pm

The next Professorial Inaugural Lecture of the semester will be given by Professor Sharon Ruston, Chair in Nineteenth-Century Literature and Culture School of English, Sociology, Politics, & Contemporary History and is entitled The Two Cultures of Literature and Science.

The lecture will be held on Tuesday 22 February 2011 in the Lady Hale Lecture Theatre, University of Salford commencing at 17:30. Free, but please register on http://www.salford.ac.uk/events/details/1380 (as tickets are limited) . Your e-ticket will be sent to your email address. Please remember to bring it with you to the event.

About the Lecture

It might seem as though little has changed since the physicist and novelist C. P. Snow's 1959 lecture coined the phrase 'two cultures'. Snow saw a 'gulf of mutual incomprehension' between 'literary intellectuals' who did not know the Second Law of Thermodynamics, and scientists, who, with 'the future in their bones', found Dickens impossible to read (Snow, 1959). The origins of this divide between the literature and science have been seen in the literature of the Romantic period (1790-1830). William Wordsworth's 'Preface' to the 'Lyrical Ballads' includes a three thousand-word passage on the differences between 'the poet' and 'the man of science'. Confirmation of this anti-scientific position has been seen in the figure of Victor Frankenstein -- a secretive, arrogant overreacher -- in Mary Shelley's novel.

ln this lecture Professor Ruston will look again at these and other texts of the Romantic period to demonstrate, instead, the way that literary and scientific writings influenced and informed each other. Considering examples of what Snow called the 'creative chances' that should accompany the 'clashing point of two subjects, two disciplines, two cultures', suggests ways that interdisciplinarity can work to bridge the divide.

About Professor Ruston

Sharon Ruston joined the University of Salford as Chair of Nineteenth-Century Literature and Culture in January 2009. She took her degrees at the University of Liverpool, and has held previous posts at the Universities of Wales, Bangor, and Keele. She is author of Shelley and Vitality (2005), Romanticism: An Introduction (2007), editor of Essays and Studies: Literature and Science (2008), and co-editor of Teaching Romanticism (2010). She has published a number of articles and essays on the interrelationships between Romantic-period literature, science and medicine.

University of London Science and the Arts Interdisciplinary Discussion Group

Inaugural Meeting, 2nd February 2011, 5-7pm

Centre for Humanities and Health Seminar Room (Room F2), 5th Floor, East Wing, Strand Campus, King’s College London (Directions Below)

‘The idea of a war between two cultures is a futile one. Instead we all need to sit down together and exchange our visions’ (Mary Midgley, Science and Poetry, London and New York: Routledge, 2001, p. 57)

There is a growing critical interest in the relationship between the sciences and the arts and interdisciplinary research is on the rise. Yet despite this, it is rare for a group of scientists and humanities scholars to come together to discuss the ways in which their disciplines relate, interact and can be fruitful for or antagonistic towards one another. Therefore, this group intends to be a space for precisely this to happen.

Established by Susie Christensen, an English literature PhD student in the Centre for Humanities and Health at King’s College, and Helen Barron, a Neuroscience PhD student at the Institute of Neurology at UCL, we aim to bring postgraduate students from across the University of London and from a range of artistic and scientific disciplines together.

In light of the current exhibition at the Wellcome Collection, the first meeting will take as its focus the topic of ‘drugs’. We will be approaching this from a neuroscientific and literary perspective to begin with, but do not want the discussion either within this session, or in the group in future to be limited to these disciplines. We are simply starting with what we know, and hope that other researchers and students may want to lead future discussions.

There are some short readings for this session which are referenced below. We will begin with some introductory comments relating to these texts and use them as a starting point for discussion. If you are unable to read them, please do still attend, but we would be grateful if you are able to read through them in order to focus the initial discussion.

Helen Barron will introduce the scientific readings, and Nicholas Murray, Huxley’s biographer and the King’s College Royal Literary fund biographer in residence will introduce the Huxley text.

Any questions don’t hesitate to get in touch with either of us on helen.barron.10@ucl.ac.uk or susie.christensen@kcl.ac.uk  If you have difficulty accessing the articles listed below then please email us for a pdf copy.

Best wishes,

Susie and Helen

Directions to room F2:

- Enter the Strand Campus through the main Strand entrance

- Walk past the Reception desk and walk straight past the lifts on your right

- After the stone staircase on your left, turn left through a doorway. Above the doorway is a sign saying “To the East Wing”.

- Walk through the walkway and up a few stairs until you see a set of double doors on your right, with a red internal mail box next to them.

- Go through the double doors and either take the lift or stairs up to the 5th Floor (Floor F)

- At the top of the stairs, go straight through the double doors and through the white door straight ahead with a combination lock on it (the door should be open).

- Walk through the main room and go through the door on your right immediately after the wooden pigeon-holes. This is Room F2.


Scientific articles:

(Primary reading) Corlett

P R, Honey G D, Krystal J H, Fletcher P C (January 2011) Glutamatergic model psychoses: prediction error, learning and inference. Neuropsychopharmacology. 36(1), 294-315.

(Secondary reading) Everitt

B J, Belin D, Economidou D, Pelloux Y, Dalley J W, Robbins T W (12 October 2008) Neural mechanisms underlying the vulnerability to develop compulsive drug-seeking habits and addiction. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society (Biological Sciences). 363, 3125-3135.

Both are available freely from the pubmed website below and journal access is available from most university networks: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed

Literary reading:

Aldous Huxley, The Doors of Perception, any edition, widely available in libraries or cheaply on amazon or in bookshops.

An interdisciplinary conference at the University of Glasgow, Scotland, UK, 16-18 May 2011.

Proposals are invited for 20-minute papers or for panels on any aspect of the relationship between literature and mathematics in Europe during the long nineteenth century.  Proposals and papers should be in English.

 Keynote speakers:

 Professor Daniel Brown (University of Western Australia).

Professor Marilyn Gaull (The Editorial Institute, Boston University)

Professor Nigel Leask (University of Glasgow)

 How did nineteenth-century British and European literary writers and readers interact with mathematics, both advanced and basic?  How were mathematical ideas transformed into narrative or poetry, satirised, domesticated, played with, adapted for religious and political use?  What would be the consequences for nineteenth-century studies of better knowledge and understanding of the period’s mathematical culture? 

 Mary Poovey wrote in her History of the Modern Fact that for the literary critic, ‘numbers constitute something like the last frontier of representation’.  This conference invites nineteenth-centuryists to explore ways of crossing that frontier. 

 Topics may include:

 Metrics and measure in poetry and mathematics

Form, geometry and space in literature and mathematics

Literature and mathematics in education

Demonstration vs ‘moral evidence’

Mathematical life-writing

Mathematics as language

Sacred and profane mathematics

Mathematical narratives

Towards a methodology of literature and mathematics studies

Mathematical models of nineteenth-century writing and reading

 Proposals and enquiries should be sent to Alice Jenkins: alice.jenkins@glasgow.ac.uk by 7 February 2011.  Acceptances will be mailed out by 17 February and the draft programme will be published shortly afterwards.  

 This event is funded by the European Research Council and supported by ArtsLab at the University of Glasgow.