June 2012

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Guest speakers:

Professor Jennifer Richards and Dr Anne Whitehead (Newcastle University), Professor David Knight (Durham University), and Dr Peter Garratt (Northumbria University)

The North East Postgraduate Research Group for the Long Nineteenth Century (NENC) invites proposals for a one-day postgraduate symposium held on Wednesday 12 September 2012.

The theme of the symposium reflects two parallel ‘moves’ towards science. First, it references the rise of the ‘natural sciences’, the scientific method, and the professional scientist across the long nineteenth century. Second, it recognises moves in contemporary arts and humanities scholarship towards a more nuanced disciplinary relationship with the sciences and the possibility of ‘one culture’. Adopting an exploratory methodology, the day will allow postgraduate delegates to think widely about how literary culture of the period approached, adapted, and rejected emergent scientific, technological, and medical discourses and methods. More broadly, we will consider how and why literature and science might move together in the contemporary academy.

Ranging across the early modern period to the end of the long nineteenth century in their areas of specialisation, our guest speakers will consider in particular how they have approached or made use of scientific discourses in their own research. This will provide delegates with an opportunity to gain insight into some of the methodological and theoretical benefits and challenges of a turn towards science. Accordingly, we invite proposals from postgraduates for papers which broadly consider ‘moves’ towards science in the literature of the long nineteenth century, or in contemporary approaches to nineteenth-century literature.

Possible topics could include, but are not limited to:

  • Defining science then and now: shifting linguistic terms
  • Science in the public arena: the role of institutions in shaping relations between literature and science
  • The popularisation of science through literary forms: prose, poetry, periodical, and pamphlet
  • Reading in new ways: approaching the scientific text across disciplinary lines
  • Specialisation and the figure of the professional scientist
  • Evolution: approaches, responses, reactions
  • Developing narratives: the Enlightenment, discovery, invention
  • Science in literary forms and the literary form of science
  • Medicine and the burgeoning medical industry
  • Science at the margins: gender, class, race, and geography
  • The collaboration of scientific and literary circles
  • Science and anxiety: resistance to scientific ideas in literature
  • The rise of psychology and theories of the mind
  • Pseudoscience and quackery: authenticity, belief, demonstration, and revelation

Abstracts of 250 words for 20-minute papers should be submitted to movingtowardsscience@gmail.com by 30 July 2012.

The symposium is being generously supported by the British Society for Literature and Science (BSLS) and by the three host Universities (Newcastle, Durham, and Northumbria). The day will therefore be free to attend, and we are delighted to be able to offer a number of postgraduate travel bursaries.

Please indicate in your abstract if you would like to be considered for a bursary.

For more information please visit the NENC website: www.northeast19thcentury.org

"‘Face to Face’ — Encounters between the Arts and Sciences" is an Interdisciplinary Colloquium to be held at Queen Mary University of London, on Friday, 22nd June 2012.


09.30-10.00 Coffee and Registration (Lockkeepers’ Cottage, Georg Steiner Room)
10.00-10.15 Welcome and Introduction
10.15-10.55 KEYNOTE LECTURE: Prof. Leonard Olschner (Queen Mary University of London): ‘A Science of Literature’

1st Panel: Literature – ‘L’Objet ambigu’
11.00-11.40 Florian Strob (Queen’s College, Oxford): ‘The Meaning and Importance of ‘maybe’ – Literature, Literary Studies and Valéry on the Beach’
11.40-12.20 Manon Mathias (Bangor University): ‘Crystallography in Sand, Stendhal and Pictet’
12.20-12.40 Geraint A. Wiggins (QMUL): ‘Scientific Creativity, Scientifically Studied’

12.40-14.00 Lunch (own arrangements)

2nd Panel: Science on Stage
14.00-14.40 Eric Heinze (QMUL): ‘The Empirically Imperial in Shakespeare’s Cymbeline’
14.40-15.20 Annabel Cox (QMUL): ‘Representations of Medicine in the Literature of Madness’

15.20-15.50 Tea

3rd Panel: Anglo-German Literary Representations of Science
15.50-16.30 Nina Engelhardt (University of Edinburgh): ‘Face to Face in the Imaginary Domain: Mathematics and Literature in Musil’s The Confusions of Young Törless and Pynchon’s Against the Day’
16.30-17.10 Annja Neumann (QMUL) ‘Face to Face with Science and Literature. Two poems by Edgar Allan Poe and John Herschel’

17.10-17.30 Closing Discussion
17.30 Wine Reception

The Colloquium is free to attend but registration is essential. Please contact the organisers: Annja Neumann, a.neumann@qmul.ac.uk or m.pozarkova@qmul.ac.uk.

Beckett and Brain Science
One day Symposium
Birkbeck, University of London
Friday 22 June 2012

This AHRC-funded project brings together literary scholars, psychiatrists, psychoanalysts, cognitive neuroscientists, neuropsychologists, and philosophers to explore the ways in which historical and contemporary models of the brain and mind can contribute to our understanding of Samuel Beckett’s work. The project also uses Beckett’s texts as case studies to investigate the ways in which aesthetic representations can offer insights into the experience of neurological and psychological disorder, while asking rigorous, philosophically robust, questions about the relationship between mind and body. By encouraging dialogue between scientific researchers, literary scholars, theatre practitioners, and trainee medics, the project hopes to extend our understanding of the relationship between medical science and literature, while also having a positive impact on patient care.

Keynote addresses:

Prof Catherine Malabou (philosopher, Kingston University)
Prof Lois Oppenheim (literary scholar, Montclair University, and Scholar Associate Member of the New York Psychoanalytic Institute)
Prof Sophie Scott (cognitive neuroscientist, University College London)

Other contributions from:

Dr Elizabeth Barry (literary scholar, Warwick University)
Dr Matthew Broome (psychiatrist, Warwick University)
Dr Peter Fifield, (literary scholar, Oxford University)
Jonathan Heron (theatre director, Warwick University)
Dr Ulrika Maude (literary scholar, Reading University)
Prof Adam Piette (literary scholar, Sheffield University)
Dr Laura Salisbury (literary scholar, Birkbeck).

This event is free but spaces are limited and booking is essential. To reserve a place please contact Laura Salisbury: l.salisbury@bbk.ac.uk

This event is part of the AHRC Science in Culture ‘Beckett and Brain Science’ exploratory project, shared between Birkbeck, Reading University, and Warwick University.


Applications are invited for TWO AHRC Collaborative PhD studentships, commencing in autumn 2012, on the theme of Reconnecting Sloane: Texts, Images, Objects

1.       Collecting and Correspondence: Sloane’s Papers and Scientific Networks (Supervised by Dr Arnold Hunt, British Library and Dr Anne Goldgar, King’s College London)

2.       Putting Nature in a Box: Sloane’s Vegetable Substances (Supervised by Dr Charlie Jarvis, Natural History Museum, and Professor Miles Ogborn, Queen Mary University of London)

A third Doctoral studentship in the programme, Visualizing Natural Knowledge: Sloane’s Albums of Natural History Drawings (Supervised by Dr Kim Sloan, British Museum, and Dr Elizabeth Eger, King’s College London) has already been allocated to a named student.

Applicants can apply for both studentships, but must complete separate applications for each as outlined below.

These studentships will focus on the collections of Sir Hans Sloane (1660-1753), which are now divided between the British Museum, the Natural History Museum and the British Library.  The research projects will explore various aspects of Sloane’s collections in order to understand how his collecting practices were involved in the making of Enlightenment knowledge.  The successful applicants will be expected to work closely with the partner institutions, and each other, in order to draw out the intellectual and material connections between the different parts of Sloane’s collections.  They will also participate in the development of new finding-aids for the collections, leading to innovative forms of public engagement.

The award pays fees and an annual maintenance grant (currently £15,590 per year) and the partner institution will contribute up to £1000 pa research costs. The usual AHRC eligibility rules apply to these studentships, including having an appropriate master’s degree by October 2012 and AHRC’s residential requirements.

For both studentships the closing date is 29th June 2012. Interviews will be held in London on 19th July 2012.  Applicants will need to include a CV, two references, an academic transcript and a 1000-word statement of purpose.

For Collecting and Correspondence: Sloane’s Papers and Scientific Networks Further details are available on the School of History, King’s College London website, informal inquiries should be made to Dr Anne Goldgar (anne.goldgar@kcl.ac.uk) and applications should be made to Kings College London.

For Putting Nature in a Box: Sloane’s Vegetable Substances Further details on the project and how to apply are available on the School of Geography, Queen Mary University of London, website. Informal inquiries should be made to Professor Miles Ogborn (m.j.ogborn@qmul.ac.uk) and applications should be made to Queen Mary University of London.

Could reading Harry Potter help scientists cure the common cold?

Could reading Harry Potter help science find a cure for the common cold, or studying Jane Austen make someone a contender for a Nobel Prize for physics? New research examining the influence literature has upon the work of scientists may soon help provide answers to such questions.

Launched in May 2012, What Scientists Read is an innovative project that sets out to discover if reading certain literature might influence a scientist's career path, or even impact the research scientists undertake. As part of the project, the researchers — from the ESRC Genomics Policy and Research Forum, and the Universities of Glasgow and St Andrews — are seeking volunteers from the scientific community across Central Scotland to be interviewed about their reading habits. The research team is also encouraging scientists from across the globe to visit the project's website to share information on their favourite reading matter, and how this influences their work.

The project is keen to hear from any scientists from Central Scotland who are willing to be interviewed about their reading habits. Scientists from across the globe are also invited to feed into the research by visiting the What Scientists Read website www.whatscientistsread.com, and contributing to the discussion by answering a brief series of questions.

What Scientists Read is funded through a Scottish Crucible Project Grant. Additional funding for What Scientists Read is provided by the ESRC Genomics Policy and Research Forum. The project is supported by the Universities of Edinburgh, St Andrews and Glasgow.

For further details visit www.whatscientistsread.com or contact Dr Sarah Dillon, University of St Andrews.