February 2013

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Sir John Lubbock FRS, later Lord Avebury, is frequently noted for his close relationship with Charles Darwin and his friendship with other better-remembered contemporaries, such as his X-Club compatriots T. H. Huxley and J. D. Hooker. However, in recent years there has been increasing interest in Lubbock in his own right. Lubbock was one of the last gentlemen scientists and a great populariser of science. His popular science works on entomology, zoology and natural history went through several reprints and he was praised as an author for a general audience as well as honoured as a man of science – evident in his election to Fellowship of scientific societies, and his roles as President of the British Association and Linnean Society and Vice-President of the Royal Society.

However, Lubbock was not a professional scientist, and his scientific achievements were coupled with social and political triumphs. He was a banker and a politician, and the Ancient Monuments Acts of 1882 and 1901 were his work, as were the Bank Holidays Act of 1871 and some 30 other bills.

This interdisciplinary conference will commemorate the centenary of his death in 2013 and provide a showcase for the rising interest in this oft-forgot figure of Victorian science by examining Lubbock’s work and his influence over a range of areas and disciplines.

For more information including a full programme and speaker biographies go to:http://royalsociety.org/events/2013/aveburys-circle/

The Royal Society, 6-9 Carlton House Terrace, London

22nd March 2013

The Canadian scholarly journal Canadian Literature is dedicating a special issue to the subject of Canadian Literature and Science. We welcome submissions from scholars on this topic from anywhere in the world. The deadline for submissions is September 1, 2013: please see the CFP on the Canadian Literature Website:



Questions in advance of the deadline may be addressed to:

Janine Rogers (jrogers@mta.ca); Amanda Jernigan (ahjernigan@gmail.com), or Travis Mason (tvmason@dal.ca).



'Attentive Writers': Healthcare, Authorship, and Authority

Medical Humanities Research Centre, University of Glasgow, 23-25 August 2013


From nurses, physicians and surgeons to administrators, caregivers, physiotherapists, technicians, veterinarians and voluntary sector workers, this conference adopts the term ‘attentive writers’ as evocative of the multitude of both non-professional and professional caregivers – clinical and non-clinical healthcare workers – whose attention to illness might take narrative form. The study of physician-writers was one of the earliest developments in the related fields of Literature and Medicine and the Medical Humanities, with canonical figures such as Conan Doyle, Goldsmith, Keats, Smollett, and William Carlos Williams, receiving much-deserved critical attention. Echoing Rita Charon’s concept of ’attentiveness’, this conference brings this established field of enquiry regarding ‘the physician as writer’ into dialogue with recent calls for a more inclusive approach to the Medical Humanities (i.e. ‘Health Humanities’) and questions the authoritative place of the Western – traditionally male – physician in our explorations of the humanities/health interface.

The relationship between healthcare, authorship and authority will be addressed through three inter-related strands of thematic enquiry: (1) an historical and literary examination of ‘attentive writers’; (2) a more devolved interrogation of the field of Narrative Medicine; and (3) an examination of ‘attentive writing’ as creative practice.

Current Confirmed Plenary Speakers: Professor Rita Charon; Professor Paul Crawford

Proposals of up to 500 words for 20-minute papers or readings should be submitted, along with a short biography (no more than 250 words), to arts-attentivewriters@glasgow.ac.uk by 4 March 2013. Proposals from academics, clinical and non-clinical healthcare workers, creative writers, and interested lay persons are all most welcome.

For further information and updates, see http://www.gla.ac.uk/schools/critical/research/conferences/attentivewriters/


The fellowship is for two years, starting in September or October 2013. The successful applicant will be based in either the Faculty of English Language and Literature, or the Faculty of Medieval and Modern Languages, depending on the area of specialism.   The proposed project may be in any area of science, medicine and literature studies, from the medieval period through to contemporary times, and in English or a European language (with a preference for French, Italian or German).  Closing date March 12.  For further details see www.recruit.ox.ac.uk or click on the link below:

Mellon Postdoc Further Particulars

The next BSLS conference will be taking place in Cardiff by Cardiff University and the University of Westminster from Thursday 11th to Saturday 13th April. You can download a registration form and provisional programme here. For more details, including advice on travel and accommodation, please visit the conference website hosted by Cardiff University.

BSLS Conference 2013 Registration Form

BSLS 2013 Conference Panels


Organised by members and PhD students of the Institute for British Studies of Leipzig University, the aim of this three-day interdisciplinary conference (20-22 March 2014) is to bring together researchers from diverse academic and professional disciplines. By establishing mathematics as the common denominator between the individual panels, the links between mathematics and cultural studies are brought into focus. The conference will explore the reception and representation of mathematical concepts across such diverse fields as popular culture, literature, linguistics and didactics.

We invite proposals of 250-300 words for papers of 20 minutes length from postgraduate students and established scholars. Suggested topics may include, but are not limited to the following fields:

  • Philosophy: mathematics in history, philosophy and religion, e.g. John Dee
  • Politics: mathematics and gender, the British Empire, and Bletchley Park
  • Popular Culture: mathematics and their influence on everyday life, recreational mathematics
  • The Arts: representations of mathematics in film, the Fine Arts, music, architecture, the aesthetics of mathematical symbols
  • Literature: representations of mathematics and mathematicians in literature, mathematical imagery

Proposals should include up to four keywords and indicate a critical approach or theoretical framework.

Owing to the international character, the conference language is English. Please e-mail your submissions either as a word document or PDF by 30 June 2013 to the following address: denominator@uni-leipzig.de.

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact the organizers, Felicitas Hanke, Franziska Kohlt, Andrea Radziewsky, Rita Singer, and Kati Voigt.

BSLS members are warmly invited to attend the Royal Society’s forthcoming lunchtime lecture series. Lectures are free and are held at the Royal Society. Further details of the lectures, and the full spring 2013 programme, can be found on the Royal Society’s events website royalsociety.org/events, but BSLS members may be particularly interested in the following talks:

Friday 1 March, 1pm

Dr Greg Lynall, University of Liverpool

Laputian Newtons: The Science and Politics of Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels

Gulliver’s Travels (1726) contains probably the most famous satire on science in world literature, but the circumstances behind its composition are little known. In this talk, Greg Lynall explains how Gulliver’s ‘Voyage to Laputa’ was shaped by Jonathan Swift’s animosity towards the Master of the Royal Mint, Sir Isaac Newton. What began as the airing of a personal and political grievance became an assault upon the foundations of scientific knowledge.


Friday 8 March, 1pm

Professor Felix Driver, Royal Holloway, University of London

Maritime science and the visual culture of exploration: the albums of a Victorian naval surgeon

Naval officers in general, and surgeons in particular, played a significant role in the development of maritime science, through their observations and their collections. This richly-illustrated talk explores the visual culture of maritime science, from coastal sketches to ethnographic observation. In particular, it looks at the albums of John Linton Palmer RN, a naval surgeon who served in the Pacific during the 1850s and 1860s. It considers the recording of topographic, antiquarian, ethnographic, microscopic and other sorts of data in the form of sketches in logbooks, diaries and journals; the assembling of such materials into personalised albums, part of a distinctive naval tradition; and the significance of these forms of visual heritage today both within Britain and overseas.


Friday 15 March, 1pm

Professor Claire Preston, University of Birmingham

‘Dark, clowdy, and impertinent’: Thomas Browne’s scientific language

[abstract forthcoming]


Friday 22 March, 1pm

Dr Sachiko Kusukawa, University of Cambridge

Unsung heroes: artistic contributors to the early Royal Society

This lecture discusses the contribution of draftsmen, engravers, artistic fellows and others whose graphic skills were indispensable for the meetings and publications of the early Royal Society (1660-1720). While some of the names of those who produced images for the Society will be familiar - Robert Hooke and William Faithorne, for example - the majority remains little known or appreciated. This lecture will show the rich variety of visual resources they generated for the Royal Society by drawing on material from the Royal Society Archives and elsewhere.


Friday 5 April, 1pm

Jenifer Glynn

My Sister Rosalind Franklin

Jenifer Glynn will discuss her new book, My Sister Rosalind Franklin. With the help of family letters and memories, this book puts Rosalind Franklin's DNA work in the context of her other achievements, and Rosalind herself in the context of her family. It shows her as a caring sister with a strong character and a passion for mountaineering, as well as a fine, thoughtful, meticulous and successful scientist.

We are pleased to announce the publication of MHRA Working Papers in the Humanities vol.7 (2012) ‘Science and Literature: the Great Divide?’ The issue is available online here: http://www.mhra.org.uk/ojs/index.php/wph/index

Constantly I felt I was moving among two groups – comparable in intelligence, identical in race, not grossly different in social origin, earning about the same incomes, who had almost ceased to communicate at all.

C.P. Snow

C.P. Snow’s infamous ‘Two Cultures’ lecture of 1959, and the heated public exchange with literary critic F.R. Leavis that ensued, highlight the great academic tension of our age: that sometimes tacit, sometimes openly explosive disjunction which exists between the arts and humanities on the one hand, and the natural sciences on the other. To what extent, though, is this relationship one that has changed over time? How far back, chronologically speaking, can a conflict be traced between the arts and the sciences? And how does the interaction between the two disciplines make itself felt in the cultural production of the modern era: in the dissemination of scientific ideas through literary writing, in the depiction of scientists and the scientific community, and in the hybrid genre of science fiction? It is these questions, and more, that are tackled by this edition of Working Papers in the Humanities.

Table of Contents


Alex Stuart, Jessica Goodman

‘De la science dans la fiction’: Elisa Brune’s ‘Petite révision du ciel’ and ‘Les Jupiters chauds’

Caroline Verdier

What D.H. Lawrence Understood of ‘The Einstein Theory’: Relativity in ‘Fantasia of the Unconscious’ and ‘Kangaroo’

Rachel Crossland

Questioning Categories of Science and Fiction in Fin de Siècle Magazines

Will Tattersdill

Metaphors of Science and Empire: The Entomologist Narrator in Amin Maalouf’s ‘Le Premier siècle après Béatrice’, and the Scientific Subject in Chris Marker’s ‘La Jetée’

Sura Qadiri