September 2012

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The following lectures in our Autumn 2012 programme may be of interest to BSLS members:

Friday 28 September, 1pm

Prof. Sharon Ruston

Natural History and the Rights of Woman

During the two-year period of the composition and publication of her Vindication of the Rights of Woman (1792), Mary Wollstonecraft, the mother of Mary Shelley and early advocate of women’s rights, read and reviewed a number of important works of natural history for a periodical called the Analytical Review. Wollstonecraft is not known for her interest in science but in this talk I show that reading these texts helped her to formulate her feminist theory. Close attention to her reviews of natural history reveal her developing thought on issues of equality, education, and what it means to be human. On a more general note,Wollstonecraft’s reviews show that in the late eighteenth century, people were aware of the political purpose of scientific writings.

Friday 12 October, 1pm

Professor George Rousseau, University of Oxford

The Notorious Sir John Hill: Georgian Celebrity Science and Attacks on the Royal Society

No man in Georgian England ever attacked the Royal Society more savagely than Sir John Hill (1714-1775), and no one in his era was more notorious for public scandal. This talk sketches Hill's multi-faceted life and assesses his attacks on the Royal Society and the changes they effected. George Rousseau's biography, the first ever written of this curious figure, has just appeared in America and will be on display during the lecture.

Friday 19 October, 1pm

Dr Clemency Fisher

The zoological world of Edward Lear

Edward Lear is most famous for his Nonsense Rhymes, such as “The Owl and the Pussycat” and “The Quangle Wangle’s Hat”, but he was also a talented zoological artist and described several new species of birds. As part of the celebrations for the bicentenary of Lear’s birth in 1812, Dr Fisher will explore Lear’s time working as an artist and tutor for the 13th Earl of Derby’s family at Knowsley Hall, near Liverpool. Lear used some of the birds and mammals in Lord Derby’s aviary and menagerie as models for his paintings and many of these individuals are now in the collections of National Museums Liverpool. Several are the types on which new species were based. A current project, shared by NML and the Western Australian Museum, is the unravelling of a knotty problem with the nomenclature of Baudin’s Cockatoo, which Lear described in 1832.

See the Royal Society events listings for further details -

The Brain and the Mind

Lisa Appignanesi and Lara Feigel are organising a new series of six panel discussions on behalf of the Centre for the Humanities and Health and the English department at King’s College London.  The talks will take place from October 2012-March 2013.

The series is called The Brain and the Mind and brings together neuroscientists with writers, artists, philosophers, psychiatrists, psychologists and psychoanalysts to explore how the varying languages which probe mind and brain can talk to each other.  Sessions address questions of free will, evolution, empathy, autism, gender and memory and speakers include the artists Simon McBurney, A.S. Byatt, Imogen Cooper, Tim Crane, Darian Leader, Michele Roberts and Fiona Shaw and the scientists Simon Baron-Cohen, Anthony David, Patrick Haggard, Francesca Happe, Melissa Hines, Peter Hobson, Michael Kopelman, Steven Rose, Michael Rutter and Mark Solms.  Poppy Sebag-Montefiore has made short films of the scientists in their labs which will be screened at the talks.

The first session, on The Brain, Free Will and the Inner Life, is on 18 October and is part of the KCL Arts and Humanities festival.

To find out more please visit

The Science Fiction and Technoculture Studies program at University of California, Riverside welcomes nominations for the SFTS book award. This prize honors an outstanding scholarly monograph that explores the intersection between popular culture and the sciences. We welcome submissions from a variety of disciplinary perspectives including cultural studies, the history of science, media studies, and the sociology of science. The award is established for the purpose of recognizing groundbreaking and exceptional contributions to the field. Books must be published in English between January 1 and December 31 2012; edited volumes as well as works by more than two authors are not eligible.

The jury for the 2012 prize will be Rob Latham (University of California, Riverside), Patrick Sharp (California State University, Los Angeles), and Sherryl Vint (University of California, Riverside).  The recipient will be announced at the joint Eaton/SFRA conference from April 11-14, 2013.

Please send nominations for the book prize to Sherryl Vint at