November 2011

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BSLS 2012 Workshop Proposal “Experiments in Theatre: New Directions in Science and Performance”

In 2002, Interdisciplinary Science Reviews published a special issue on Theatre and Science that became the springboard for key debates that have helped to shape and define the field. Since then, several new books and dozens of articles have significantly expanded the scholarship on theatre and science, while a steady flow of new work for the stage has shown that the interactions between science and theatre continue to surprise, delight, and provoke audiences and readers around the world.

Now, a decade on, we plan to hold a workshop that will bring together scholars and practitioners engaging with theatre and science to explore new developments, directions, and explorations in this ever-expanding field. This is an opportunity to share work in progress and get feedback on it, take stock of current trends in the field and suggest new ones.

Format: participants will distribute their papers ahead of the workshop, allowing them to be read beforehand so that on the day we will only need brief summaries from each participant and can devote most of the session to discussion, questions and answers, and targeted responses. We will encourage audience participation in the Q and A.

Topics the workshop might explore include (but are not limited to):

  • How has the field evolved and expanded away from the focus on text-based “science plays” like Stoppard’s Arcadia, Wertenbaker’s After Darwin, and Frayn’s Copenhagen to a greater emphasis on performance in its broadest sense, through such diverse practitioners as Complicite (A Disappearing Number), Punchdrunk (Faust), Athletes of the Heart (Yerma’s Eggs), and Clod Ensemble (Performing Medicine)?
  • How do theatre and scientific experimentation intersect and cross-fertilize each other?
  • How has theatre engaged with relatively recent scientific findings and debates, such as those over climate change and global warming?
  • What new modes of performance has the interaction of science with theatre generated?

Please send expressions of interest, a title and an abstract to the convenors below by 30 December 2011.

Convenors of the Workshop
Dr Carina Bartleet (Senior Lecturer in Drama, Oxford Brookes University),
Dr Kirsten Shepherd-Barr (University Lecturer in Modern Drama, University of Oxford),

The next two research seminars in the Modern Studies (1800-present) series in the Department of English Language and Literature at the University of Reading are both on literature and science:

Researching Literature and Science: A Roundtable

Professor Nick Battey (Head of Environmental Biology, University of Reading), Dr John Holmes, Dr Andrew Mangham, Dr Ulrika Maude, and Dr Stephen Thomson (English Literature, University of Reading)

Monday 5th December, 6 p.m., Humanities and Social Sciences building G74

No There There: The Infinitesimal Sublime in Victorian Poetry and Physics

Professor Herbert Tucker (John C. Coleman Professor of Nineteenth-Century British Literature, University of Virginia)

Wednesday 14th December, 5 p.m. Humanities and Social Sciences building 125

All welcome. Please email John Holmes ( for further details.

The University of London Interdisciplinary Discussion Group: ‘Language’

The programme for the next meeting of the University of London Interdisciplinary Discussion Group has now been finalised. Details are below and can also be found on our website. Please email Susie Christensen ( if you would like to be added to the mailing list for this group.

Monday 23rd January 2012, 5-7pm in K3.11 Raked Lecture Theatre, King’s College London, King’s Building, Strand Campus, Strand, London

On 23rd January we will meet for the third time to discuss the topic of language. Our three speakers will address this topic from their respective disciplinary and professional backgrounds.  Each speaker will present for 20 minutes and then there will be an hour for questions and general discussion on this topic both in relation to the papers presented and with regards to the work of others present. This will also be a chance to reflect on interdisciplinarity in general and how the combination of these three papers enriches our understanding of the topic ‘language’


Laura Salisbury, Lecturer in English, Birkbeck College and RCUK Fellow in Science, Technology and Culture

Oiwi Parker Jones, Research Fellow at the Wellcome Trust Centre for Neuroimaging, UCL and at Wolfson College, Oxford

Helena Ballard, Teacher of the Deaf and associate of Life and Deaf

More Information on the speakers

Helena Ballard

Helena Ballard is an Advisory Teacher of the Deaf in Greenwich. Much of her current focus is on work with families who have newly diagnosed babies and small children, although she also goes into mainstream schools to support hearing impaired children and the staff who work with them.   A French graduate and lover of music, she came late to the field of deafness and to British Sign Language, both of which she finds fascinating.  Life and Deaf has been an important and stimulating addition for the past five years.

Life and Deaf started in a secondary mainstream unit for deaf students in Greenwich and came from a poetry project school-wide.  Working with specialist Speech and Language Therapists, Jane Thomas and Katie Martin, the deaf students  explored their identities through the medium of poetry, producing such powerful and rich work that a beautifully illustrated book of their poems was produced, accompanied by a DVD of the young poets speaking or signing their poetry. The aims of the project included the exploration of the beauty of language but also its power in allowing access to difficult or unexplored emotions which might affect mental health.  At a launch subsequently it became apparent that the students, their friends and families were so motivated and positively affected by the whole process that there were lasting and important benefits.  As a result the Life and Deaf Association was formed and the project was rolled out nationwide, with a web-site, a workbook to encourage wider participation and many other activities.  Life and Deaf 2 will culminate in a launch on the South Bank in March 2012.

She will be discussing he work teaching deaf children and Life and Deaf, and what these two things contribute to our understanding of language.

Oiwi Parker Jones

Oiwi Parker Jones is a linguist and neuroscientist whose research focuses on models of language in healthy and damaged brains, particularly in bilingual populations. He is particularly interested in (1) how multiple languages are represented in a single brain and (2) how bilinguals recover each language after brain damage due to cancer or stroke. His research uses a variety of methods, including anatomical and functional neuroimaging and dynamic network-based modelling. Other areas of research include the neuroscience of reading and sign-language, as well as topics in general linguistics, such as language documentation and activism (especially of endangered and Eastern Polynesian languages)."

He will be talking about his various investigations into language.

Laura Salisbury

Laura Salisbury is author of Samuel Beckett: Laughing Matters, Comic Timing (Edinburgh University Press, 2012) and co-editor of Neurology and Modernity: A Cultural History of Nervous Systems, 1800-1950). She has published a number of essays on aphasia and literary modernism and her major current research project is a book-length study of the relationship between modernism, modernity, and early twentieth-century neuroscientific conceptions of language. Other forthcoming work includes co-editing a volume called Kittler Now (Polity), co-editing a special issue of Medical Humanities on the topic of 'Beckett and the Brain', and writing a chapter on narratives of the brain in contemporary British Fiction for The Decades Project: International Perspectives on Contemporary British Fiction (Continuum).

She will talk about these aspects of her work in relation to the topic of language.

Situating and Interpreting States of Mind 1700-2000

An Interdisciplinary Conference

14-16 June 2012

Northumbria University

Keynote Speakers

  • Professor Joel P. Eigen (Charles A. Dana Professor of Sociology, Franklin and Marshall College, Pennsylvania)
  • Professor Melinda A. Rabb (Professor of English, Brown University, Rhode Island)
  • Dr. Judith A. Tucker (Lecturer in the School of Design, Leeds University)

This cross-period and interdisciplinary conference seeks to situate and interpret states of mind from the eighteenth century to the twenty-first questioning how the space, place mand historical context in which mental states are experienced shaped the narratives produced by individuals. Interweaving perspectives from across such disciplines as literature, history, philosophy, art history, performance, fine art, creative writing, psychology and sociology, the conference will explore accounts of states of mind including mental illness, dreams, sleep-walking, imaginative states and self-awareness. The conference seeks to assess how these varying states of consciousness are expressed and how such narratives are influenced by historical change, continuity or the reconfiguration of these forms of expression.

We would like to invite abstracts for papers from across disciplines on the theme of the conference, particularly related, but not limited, to the following key strands:

Experience and Representation of Mental Illness

- the gap between individual experience and interpretations by medical and legal practitioners

- the relationship between mental distress, agency, literature and cognition

- representations of mental derangement and criminal responsibility

Liminal States of Mind

- representations of liminal states of consciousness

- the relationship between experiences and representations of dreams and sleepwalking

- categorisation of imaginative states in cognitive science and philosophy

- concepts of interiority, selfhood and imaginative processing of real or fictional worlds

Self-awareness and Place

- relationship between self and place, particularly regarding the past and decay

- artistic expressions of situating self-awareness

- creative representations of landscape as a geographic metaphor

Abstracts of 300 words for 20-minute papers should be submitted by 31 January 2012 to the conference organisers: or See for details.