The Professorial Inaugural Lecture Series: Professor Sharon Ruston

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.

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