February 2014

You are currently browsing the monthly archive for February 2014.

Science as the spark: literature inspired by science

Anglia Ruskin University, Thursday 20 March, 7:00pm - 8:30pm

How has scientific inquiry lead to literary works? Why is the literary presentation of science relevant to scientists and society?  A panel sponsored by the BSLS, including Chris Beckett, Dave Clements, Laura Dietz and Kelley Swain, and chaired by BSLS Chair John Holmes, will skirt the 'inspiring science!' cliche to ask illuminating questions, including why scientists and historians who can communicate in any genre, and artists who can draw on any inspiration, choose to structure their work at the intersection of these fields.

To find out more and book a ticket, visit the Cambridge Science Festival website.

The London Interdisciplinary Discussion Group will be meeting to discuss order and disorder at the Dana Centre at the Science Museum in London at 6.30 on 15th April. To read more about this event, and to book a ticket, visit their website.

Their next event will be on 'Blindness'. This will take place on 7th May 2014, featuring writer and theologian John Hull, neuroscientist Colin Blakemore, philosopher Ophelia Deroy and filmmakers James Spinney and Peter Middleton (who are currently making a film about John Hull’s experience of blindness).


Jeff Wallace will be giving an Inaugural Lecture on ‘Literature and Science: Beyond the Two Cultures’ at Cardiff University on March 19th at 5.45pm. For further information see -

Theories and Uses of Light in British Arts of the 19th and 20th centuries
Université Paris Diderot-Paris 7, 20-21 June 2014
In a chapter from The Mirror and the Lamp entitled “Newton’s rainbow and the poet’s,” M. H. Abrams draws a genealogy of the critiques levelled by British writers at practitioners of physics and the natural sciences for their analytical and overly mundane description of the world. Keats’s indictment of Newton in Lamia, which lamented the scientist’s crude unravelling of the rainbow, seems to echo throughout the 19th century and well into the 20th – Abrams quotes D. H. Lawrence’s regret that “‘Knowledge’ has killed the sun, making it a ball of gas, with spots.” In both those examples, light appears as a crucial point of articulation between artistic and scientific discourses. As an emblematic object of study for modern sciences and the experimental method, light plays a defining role in a British context, where it evokes both Newton’s authority and the essential influence that enlightenment empiricism had on the shaping of British thought and culture. Light encapsulates the arts’ tensional relation to scientific discourses and the socio-political, moral and ideological models that they underpin. In that sense, it is the perfect candidate to express or to apprehend a potentially contentious relation to the legacy and persistence of the Enlightenment in Great Britain.
Besides serving as an aesthetic medium, light emblematizes a particular stage in the history of science and epistemology. Its uses raise aesthetic, conceptual, political and moral issues. This explains the strategies carried out to define and appropriate it – strategies that vary from one artistic medium to the next, and from one discursive posture to another. These issues found a new relevance in the 19th century, with the emergence of new media that relied on capturing and shaping light. They took on another meaning at the turn of the 20th century, when scientific findings about light proved incompatible with some of the principles behind Newton’s experimental method, and paved the way towards revolutionary theories. Throughout these two centuries the arts often compete with physics and the natural sciences to formulate a legitimate definition of light; on the other hand, light as a medium is gradually made more available to artistic practices precisely thanks to the latest technical and scientific discoveries. Light crystallizes tensions between imagination and reason, between analytical knowledge and sensory experience, between demystifying clarity and phantasmagorical projections.
This two-day postgraduate conference proposes to investigate the functions and uses of light in British arts of the 19th and 20th centuries, from references to light in literature and music to its material treatment in painting, architecture, photography, cinema, performance arts, as well as landscapes and gardens. Suggested lines of approach are:
  • Uses of colours and white in painting
  •  Magic lanterns, phantasmagoria...: the technology and reception of pre-cinema
  •  Techniques and usages of lighting
  •  Projection technologies
  •  Music and synaesthesia: connecting sound, colour and light
  •  Light and sound: wavelength theory, music of the spheres
  •  Light and shadows in the English garden
  •  Light as metaphor
  •  City lights
  •  Light and Enlightenment
  •  Politics of light: light and progress, light and “terrorism” (Max Milner)
  •  Natural and artificial lighting
  •  Photosensitivity
  •  Light and shade, chiaroscuro
  •  Refraction, reflection and absorption of light
  •  Light, between immateriality and materiality
  •  Light, between empiricism and metaphysics
  •  Light and perception
  •  Light, physiology and imagination
  •  Vision and blindness, blindness and insight
Our keynote speaker at the conference will be the artist and writer Lily Hibberd.
Papers will last for twenty minutes, and will be followed by ten-minute discussions with the floor. Abstracts no longer than 300 words should be sent to Sarah Gould (sarah.gould@orange.fr) and Diane Leblond (diane.b.leblond@gmail.com) before March 1st 2014, along with a short biographical note.
The conference will take place at Université Paris Diderot (Paris 7) near the Bibliothèque Nationale de France. This event is supported by the LARCA (Laboratoire de Recherches sur les Cultures Anglophones) and the Ecole Doctorale 131 (Langue, Littérature, Image) at Université Paris Diderot.

The Journal of Literature and Science (http://www.literatureandscience.org) is looking for reviewers to review a wide range of articles in the field literature and science published in the last year to 18 months. To download the call for reviewers, click below:

JLS Call for Reviewers

Wireless: Oliver Lodge, Science, and Spiritualism

Royal Society, London, 24 April 2014

Registration now open

Oliver Lodge’s work in telecommunications arose from his life-long interest in the ether.  This workshop explores Lodge’s impact on late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century  telecommunications, particularly wireless telegraphy and radio, but situates this alongside his interest in more esoteric etheric phenomena.  Studying Lodge’s spiritualism provides a new way of understanding his physics, but also a way of approaching broader communication networks, occult or otherwise, of the period.

This one-day workshop features papers by Peter Bowler, Elizabeth Bruton, Christine Ferguson, David Hendy, Richard Noakes, and J. Patrick Wilson.

Registration is free but places are limited.  To register, email oliverlodgenetwork@gmail.com giving your name and any dietary requirements.

Further details (including the programme) are available here: http://www.oliverlodge.org/workshop-2-wireless/

Registration is now open for the ninth annual conference of the British Society for Literature and Science, which will take place at the University of Surrey, Guildford, on 10-12 April 2014. Keynote talks will be given by Professor Jim Al-Khalili (University of Surrey), Professor Bernard Lightman (York University, Toronto), and Professor Mary Orr (University of Southampton). The conference will finish with an opportunity to visit Down House, the home of Charles Darwin, on the afternoon of Saturday 12 April.

Accommodation: please note that those attending the conference will need to make their own arrangements for accommodation. Information on local hotels is available on the conference website.

Membership: conference delegates will need to register as members of the BSLS (annual membership: £25 waged / £10 unwaged). It will be possible to join the BSLS when registering for the conference.

To register for the conference please visit the University of Surrey online store at http://tinyurl.com/p92lleg. The deadline for registration is 27 March 2014.

Information about how to get to the University of Surrey is available here: http://www.surrey.ac.uk/about/visitors/travel/.

For further information and updates about the conference, please contact Gregory Tate (g.tate@surrey.ac.uk) or visit the conference website at http://tinyurl.com/pp6ubz5.

The University of Reading is offering a PhD studentship to study the relationship between zoology and literature in relation to the Cole Library of Early Medicine and Zoology. The studentship covers full fees and a bursary of £2000 per year. The project will begin in October, and the deadline for applications is 29th March. For the full details, click here:

Nature's Stories PhD


The centre for Interdisciplinary Research into the Humanities and Science at the University of Reading is holding a one-day interdisciplinary workshop, funded by the British Academy, bringing together scholars working in the history of science with those working on literature and science. The workshop is aimed at PhD students, postdocs, and those in the early stages of their academic careers working in Literature and/or History with an interest in science.

The workshop will be held on Friday 14th March. It will explore the challenges (intellectual and practical) in developing historical and literary studies of science, and ask how early career scholars can present their work most effectively. Participants will:

  • compare methodologies and assumptions across disciplines, with a view to fostering more rounded and reflexive approaches to the study of science in culture in different time periods;
  • hear from established scholars about developing successful research projects and presenting historical and literary studies of science to a wider audience;
  • receive guidance on constructing interdisciplinary research bids; and
  • benefit from the opportunity to build mutually supportive networks with other early career scholars.

Confirmed speakers include Charlotte Sleigh (Kent), Neil Messer (Winchester), Martin Willis (Westminster), Peter Bowler (Queen's Belfast), David Stack (Reading) and John Holmes (Reading). There is no registration fee but places are limited and participants must register in advance. Early career delegates can also claim travel expenses up to £50.

Any enquiries should be directed to Professor David Stack at d.a.stack@reading.ac.uk. To download a registration form, click here:  BA Early Career workshop


Performing Science: Dialogues Across Cultures

The Science and Performance Conference

The Lincoln School of Performing Arts,

The University of Lincoln, 23rd April – 25th April, 2014

The Science and Performance conference aims to bring together academic scholars from humanistic and scientific disciplines as well as practitioners and funders, to examine ideas and practices – past, present, and future – relating to the intersections between performance and science. To download full call for papers, click here: Science and performance conference


« Older entries