University of London Science and the Arts Interdisciplinary Discussion Group



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 or  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:

Literary reading:

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