Silent Spring project

Postgraduate Funding Opportunity

Silent Spring: Chemical, Biological and Technological Visions of the Post-1945 Environment

An AHRC collaborative skills project hosted by the Centre for Modern Studies, University of York and Birkbeck, University of London

A number of travel bursaries are available for postgraduates and early career researchers to participate in this project, which uses Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring to explore the relationship between arts and science research through two workshops in 2013.

Workshop 1

Friday 1st March 2013

Humanities Research Centre, University of York, BS/008

Deadline for Travel Bursary Applications: Monday 28th January 2013, 5:30pm


Workshop 2

June 2013 (date tbc)

Birkbeck, University of London


‘In this now universal contamination of the environment, chemicals are the sinister and little-recognised partners of radiation in changing the very nature of the world – the very nature of its life.’ – Rachel Carson, Silent Spring, 1962.

Rachel Carson’s classic polemic Silent Spring celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2012:  it still stands as one of the most influential texts on the damage caused to the natural environment by chemicals and nuclear fallout in the twentieth century. Taking Carson’s book as its starting point, this interdisciplinary post-graduate project aims to explore how a growing awareness of the biological, chemical and technological changes to the environment has shaped cultural explorations of nature and landscape in the post-1945 period, through visual art, literature and film. We will consider both how scientists have used images and texts to communicate their ideas to the public, and how artists have responded to, used, and resisted scientific developments in their work. Through two workshops at York and Birkbeck in 2013, we will start unpacking some of the complications inherent in the use of terms such as ‘nature’ and ‘environment’, and the associations embedded in them.

Workshop 1 at the University of York will provide an informal but stimulating forum for researchers and scholars from the humanities, social sciences and natural sciences to share work and ideas. Confirmed speakers include Dr Alice Bell (University of Sussex), Dr Fabienne Collignon (University of Sheffield), Dr Jo Applin (University of York) and Dr Isabella Streffen (University of Newcastle).

Thanks to generous support from the AHRC, we are able to offer a limited amount of travel bursaries for up to £50 (on provision of receipts) to post-graduate students and early career researchers for travel to and from each workshop. We welcome applications from students in any of the Humanities and Sciences, including Geography, Environmental Sciences, Chemistry, History of Science, English and Related Literatures, History, History of Art, Film and Theatre Studies, Fine Art and Sociology. We hope that this will be a lively day full of discussion, and invite participants to share a short, informal five-minute summary of their work in a final group discussion section. Students with an interest in interdisciplinary exchange, whose work focuses on the post-1945 period, and is funded by the AHRC, will receive priority.

To apply for a Travel Bursary for Workshop 1 in York, please send a copy of your CV together with a statement of up to 500 words on why you are interested in attending the workshop, and how your research intersects with its themes, to by Monday 28th January at 5:30pm. In your application, please state your institutional affiliation, and whether or not your research is funded by the AHRC. A separate application must be made for Workshop 2, deadline tbc. If you have any questions please don’t hesitate to contact the organisers at this address.