BSLS/JLS Essay Prize – The Results



We are delighted to announce that the first joint British Society for Literature and Science and Journal of Literature and Science prize for an essay by an early-career scholar has been won by Rachel Crossland for her essay ‘”Multitudinous and minute”: Early Twentieth-Century Scientific, Literary and Psychological Representations of the Mass’. Out of a strong field, this essay was the judges’ unanimous first choice. The essay will be published in the next available issue of JLS, and its author will also receive a prize of £100.

The judges were also especially impressed by Josie Gill’s essay ‘Science and Fiction in Zadie Smith’s White Teeth‘, to which they would like to give an honourable mention. The author will be invited to submit this essay too for publication in JLS.

We would like to thank all the BSLS members who submitted essays for this year’s prize. We were delighted by how many submissions we received and thoroughly enjoyed reading them. Between them, they covered a tremendous range of both literary and scientific topics, from the medieval to the contemporary, with a broad range too of methods and approaches. Together, the articles admirably demonstrated the vibrancy of the literature and science community and its scholarship.

Here are the judges’ endorsements of the winning essay and the runner-up:

‘”Multitudinous and minute”: Early Twentieth-Century Scientific, Literary and Psychological Representations of the Mass’

“Rachel Crossland’s essay is a very impressive piece of scholarship and criticism. It is elegantly written and consistently interesting, with a fine range of references and a central, persuasive argument emerging in confident prose. Crossland brings together an interdisciplinary matrix of science, literature and psychology to explore the behaviour of particles, and of individuals in large groups. Her handling of several streams of complex material – the physics of motion on the one hand and crowd theory of the other, for example – is assured and continually insightful. The essay reveals something new in the work of Virginia Woolf, but also places complex scientific ideas in new contexts and reveals new ways of considering their importance within modernity.”

‘Science and Fiction in Zadie Smith’s White Teeth

“Josie Gill’s essay is an original and thoughtful reading of Zadie Smith’s novel, placing it in new contexts that are both surprising and well chosen. She has brought together an excellent range of material – on genomic research, comedy, and experimentation – and moulds these into a powerful and persuasive argument. The essay is always engaging and the analysis is both perceptive and forceful. It contributes not only to scholarship on contemporary literary and scientific topics but also to the relationships between science and comic writing and between fiction and experimentation.”