December 2013

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BSLS Book Prize 2013

Nominations are being accepted for the BSLS Book Prize 2013. The prize is made to the best scholarly book on any aspect of literature and science published in the last year. Members and publishers are welcome to nominate books. Members may nominate their own titles, but please note that individual memberships must be current and the publication in question must be dated 2013 to be eligible.

All nominations must be sent to Peter Garratt, the Editor of BSLS Reviews and Newsletter and Chair of Book Prize, by 15 January 2014 (

Call for Papers for the

Inaugural Conference of


(Erlangen Center for Literature and Natural Sciences)

at the Friedrich-Alexander-University Erlangen, Germany 29.05. – 01.06.2014

Physics and Literature: Theory – Popularization – Aestheticization

Physics, literature, and literary criticism are discourses of knowledge production which have drifted apart considerably in the course of the modern functional differentiation of social systems. At the same time, both discourses contribute to the comprehension and mastery of present and future problems, which invariably have both technological and cultural implications. Technologies and worldviews, shaped by physical knowledge, often acquire the status of central myths and determine human life worlds. Thus, they are of tremendous cultural relevance. The evaluation and assessment of their goals, limitations, and effects as well as of their inherent chances and risks is an ongoing process and cannot be negotiated within the necessarily narrow limits of physical discourse alone. At present more well-informed and highly reflective literary texts dealing with physical issues are being published than ever before. Employing dialogue and narration, they translate physical knowledge from mathematical-symbolic into verbal-polyvalent forms of representation and re-embed it in specific cultural contexts. This is why recent literary criticism and linguistic studies have therefore begun to investigate discursive and narrative modulations of physical theories both in literary texts and in scientific literature. Physics is itself becoming increasingly aware, both of the linguistic dimension of scientific communication and research and of the general cultural dimension of physical knowledge. The field has begun to reflect on both: on the epistemological importance of metaphor and on the communicative and cultural conditions determining the goals, priorities, and ethical limits of scientific research.

These points of intersection between physical and cultural practices constitute a research field recognized for its considerable importance and interdisciplinary potential. Unconventional avenues of communication between highly specialized expert discourses are necessary to advance research in this field. The analysis of concept formation in the natural sciences can profit from the competence of literary theory, while the analysis of the transformation of physical knowledge in literary texts needs to be complemented by a sound knowledge of physical theory. ELINAS provides a platform for this exchange. ELINAS is an Emerging-Field-Project of the Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen Nürnberg, which will be founded by the Faculty of Humanities, the Faculty of Sciences, the Faculty of Medicine, and the Faculty of Engineering through the Departments of Physics, Mathematics, Physiology, Material Sciences, as well as the Departments of German, English and American Studies.

The conference will focus on the hitherto only exemplarily researched history of the interrelations between physics and literature and concentrates on historically specific thematic fields. While during The Early Modern Period physics primarily discusses questions of movement and force, the 18th Century is dominated by debates on Newton’s mechanics and optics (up until Goethe’s Farbenlehre, 1810). The expansion of experimental investigations, coupled with technological progress, causes a shift towards chemical (C. Berthollet, A. Lavoisier) as well as thermal (T. Young, N. Carnot) and electro-magnetic phenomena (A. Volta, G. S. Ohm, M. Faraday, J. C. Maxwell) but also to astronomy, in particular in its popularized form (A. Clerke, S. Newcomb, J. Mädler). These also move to the foreground in the literature around 1800 (G. C. Lichtenberg, H. v. Kleist, E. T. A. Hoffmann, A. v. Arnim). – A century later, the reconceptualization of the relationship of space-time and energy/matter in Einstein’s special and general relativity theory, and the debate over the development of quantum-theory created epistemological problems, which are reflected in literature up until today, and which shape the structures of literary writing. The question of how, with the help of quantum-theory, knowledge and its relations to uncertain knowledge can be problematized and represented is central (H. Broch, D. Dath). A further focus in this context will be the interplay of natural-scientific and literary theory formation. One conference section will be reserved for the presentation of other literature and natural science initiatives, networks or institutions.

Abstracts: Please send your abstracts (400 words) to Aura Heydenreich ( The abstracts should include the title and content of the paper, as well as your name, your research interests, a short bio/bibliography, email address, and postal address. The papers themselves should not exceed the time frame of 30 minutes. The deadline for submission is February 15, 2014. More information under:

The British Society for Literature and Science and the Journal of Literature and Science would like to announce a prize for the best new essay by an early career scholar on a topic within the field of literature and science.

Essays should be currently unpublished and not under consideration by another journal. They should be between 6,000 and 8,000 words long, inclusive of references, and should be send by email to both John Holmes, Chair of the BSLS (, and Martin Willis, Editor of JLS (, by 12 noon on Tuesday, 1st April, 2014. The prize is open to BSLS members who are postgraduate students or have completed a doctorate within three years of this date. (To join BSLS, go to The prize will be judged jointly by representatives of the BSLS and JLS.

The winning essay will be announced on the BSLS website and published in JLS. The winner will also receive a prize of £100. The judges reserve the right not to award the prize should no essay of a high enough standard be submitted.

To read the results of this year's essay prize, click here.

A quick reminder, the call for papers for the BSLS conference closes this Friday. Proposals of no more than 250 words, together with the name and institutional affiliation of the speaker, should be sent in the body of messages (not in attachments) to

For full details, click here.

The BSHS Annual Conference will take place from Thursday 3 to Sunday 6 July 2014 at the University of St Andrews.

The Programme Committee now invites proposals for individual papers and for sessions from historians of science, technology and medicine, and from their colleagues in the wider scholarly community, on any theme, topic or period. Proposals are welcomed from researchers of all nationalities at all stages of their careers. Participation is in no way limited to members of the Society, although members will receive a discount on the registration fee. Offers of papers and sessions should be directed to, which is the address for all enquiries about the programme (see below for enquiries about local arrangements).

Proposals for individual papers should include an abstract of no more than 250 words, be comprehensible to a non-specialist audience, and avoid footnotes. Sessions, of either ninety minutes or two hours, should normally consist of three or four papers; they may also have a commentator. Proposals for alternative types of session, such as ‘round-tables’, are strongly encouraged. Please discuss your ideas for such alternative sessions well in advance of the submission deadline.

The deadline for proposals is 10 February 2014.

Further details on how to submit individual abstracts and session proposals will shortly be available on the BSHS website at