April 2014

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On Thursday evening BSLS Chair John Holmes will be discussing the decorative art of the nineteenth-century Irish stone-carvers James and John O'Shea at the Oxford University Museum of Natural History with the contemporary artist Sean Lynch, whose show A blow by blow account of stonecarving in Oxford inspired by the O'Sheas and their work has recently opened at Modern Art Oxford. After their talk, there will be a launch party for Lynch's book accompanying the show. Here are the details of the event if you would like to join us:

Event: Chipping away at a block of stone carving history

Venue: Modern Art Oxford

Time: 7.00-7.45 (conversation); 7.45-8.15 (book launch)

Charge: Free

All welcome.

George Levine, Emeritus Professor of English at Rutgers University, will be speaking on 'Science and Religion from Herschel to Gould' at 5.30 p.m. on Tuesday 29th April at the Tsuzuki Lecture Theatre, St Anne’s College, Oxford, and again at 2 p.m. on Wednesday 30th April at the Harborne Lecture Theatre at the University of Reading. Professor Levine is one of the world's most eminent scholars of literature and science. His books include Darwin and the Novelists: Patterns of Science in Victorian Fiction (1988), Dying to Know: Scientific Epistemology and Narrative in Victorian England (2002), Darwin Loves You: Natural Selection and the Re-enchantment of the World (2006), Realism, Ethics and Secularism: Essays on Victorian Literature and Science (2008) and Darwin the Writer (2011), as well as several edited books on science and literature. Both events are open to the public, so please feel free to come along to either to hear this rich and stimulating talk.

Following a successful annual conference, the British Society for Literature and Science and the Journal of Literature and Science would like to announce an extension to the 2014 prize deadline for the best new essay by a postgraduate or an early career scholar on a topic within the field of literature and science. The deadline, previously April 1st, has been extended to May 31st 2014.

Essays should be currently unpublished and not under consideration by another journal.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 (j.r.holmes@reading.ac.uk), and Martin Willis, Editor of JLS (m.willis@westminster.ac.uk), by 12 noon on Saturday, 31st May, 2014.

The prize is open to BSLS members who are postgraduate students or have completed a doctorate within three calendar years of the deadline date. The Prize committee will consider on a case by case basis whether to accept submissions from anyone whose doctorate was completed more than three years prior to the deadline but whose career has been interrupted during that time (due to illness, maternity leave, etc.). Those who have submitted to the essay prize in previous years are very welcome to submit again. This includes any previous prize winners or honourable mentions.

The prize will be judged jointly by representatives of the BSLS and JLS.

To join BSLS (only £10 for postgraduates and unwaged members), go to https://www.bsls.ac.uk/join-us/.

The winning essay will be announced on the BSLS and JLS websites and published in the JLS in the next available issue (most likely December 2014). 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.

The winning essay for 2013 was Rachel Crossland’s ‘”Multitudinous and Minute”: Early Twentieth-Century Scientific, Literary and Psychological Representations of the Mass’ which was published in issue 6.2 of the JLS in December 2013. Also published in that issue was Josie Gill’s essay, ‘Science and Fiction in Zadie Smith’s White Teeth’, which received an honourable mention from the judges. Read these at www.literatureandscience.org.

George Levine (Emeritus Professor, Rutgers University) is one of the world’s leading figures in the field of science, literature and culture. His books include Darwin and the Novelists (1988), Darwin Loves You: Natural Selection and the Re-enchantment of the World (2006), Realism, Ethics, and Secularism: Essays in Victorian Literature and Science (2008), and Darwin the Writer (2011). During his visit to Oxford he will be giving the following talks:

29 April  Lecture on  ‘Science and Religion from Herschel to Gould’

5.30  Tsuzuki Lecture Theatre, St Anne’s College.  There will be a drinks reception following the lecture.

1 May  'Crossing Boundaries: the challenges of working across science and humanities'.  TORCH seminar.  Panellists:  George Levine;  Sunetra Gupta (novelist and Professor of Theoretical Epidemiology, Oxford); Michael Whitworth (English Faculty, Oxford).  Chair, Sally Shuttleworth (English Faculty, Oxford).

1-2.30 TORCH seminar room, Radcliffe Humanities Building. Lunch will be available in the adjacent room from 12.30.

7 May Lecture: ‘Victorian finance and death: Money in Dickens’ Our Mutual Friend

5.00  English Faculty, St Cross Building, Lecture Theatre 2  There will be a drinks reception following the lecture.

9 May Seminar ‘Paradox: the Art of the Scientific Naturalists’

2-3.30 Seminar room A, English Faculty, St Cross Building, Manor Road.  Joint Literature and Science  and  History of Science seminar.

All events are open to all.

Book Prize winner

The Society is delighted to announce that the 2013 BSLS Book Prize goes to Robert Mitchell for Experimental Life: Vitalism in Romantic Science and Literature, published by Johns Hopkins University Press. Congratulations to all four shortlisted authors, and especially to Professor Mitchell on being this year's winner, for a book of considerable research and erudition that takes literature and science scholarship in new directions. For full details of the shortlist and previous winners, click here.

Seminar and Masterclass on Science and Literary Form - Janine Rogers speaking in London April 28th and 30th, 2014

Professor Janine Rogers from Mount Allison University in Canada will be a Visiting Scholar at the Centre for the Study of Science and Imagination at the University of Westminster from April 28th to 30th, 2014. During that time Janine will give a Seminar and a Masterclass on science and literary form. The details are as follows:


Monday April 28th, 5-6.30pm, University of Westminster, 309 Regent Street, Room UG05 (accompanied by drinks)

Seminar Title: What has the Medieval Manuscript Done for Us Lately?: The Codex and the Craft of Thought from Chaucer to Cox.

This seminar traces the roots of public science in museums and popular science texts back to medieval book culture. It considers how manuscripts and other medieval literary structures continue to inspire contemporary scientists like Stephen Hawking, Richard Dawkins and Brian Cox, especially in their popular writing and other public science work. The seminar considers how the medieval literary heritage of popular science is part of an investment in aesthetic and spiritual values that help science to connect with the general public. The research considers literary questions in both the original medieval context and in the context of contemporary science writing, but it also extends literary analysis into areas beyond literature, including the history of science, museums and public policy, media studies, and science in society. All welcome – but a place must be booked via Rebecca Spear (rebecca.spear@my.westminster.ac.uk).


Wednesday April 30th, 3-5pm, University of Westminster, 32-38 Wells Street, Room 206 (afternoon tea provided)

Masterclass: "Thinking through Form in Literature and Science."

In this masterclass Janine will talk through her methods of working with the formal characteristics of literary writing and how these inform interdisciplinary relations with the sciences. This event is particularly aimed at postgraduates and early career researchers working in interdisciplinary ways with literary texts. All welcome – but a place must be booked via Rebecca Spear (rebecca.spear@my.westminster.ac.uk).

25-26 September 2014, Faculty of English Language and Literature, University of Oxford

Convenor: Dr Tiziana Morosetti (Oxford)

Funded under the 2011 Marie Curie Intra-European Fellowships scheme, European Commission

Confirmed speakers: Professor Ross Forman (Warwick), Dr Peter Yeandle (Manchester), Dr Hazel Waters (Institute of Race Relations, London)

Topics include:

  • Definitions of ‘exotic’
  • Staging the ‘exotic’ body
  • Cultural and political backgrounds, including science and the 'exotic'
  • The travelling ‘exotic’
  • The legacy of 19th-century ‘exotic’ body

Abstracts of no more than 300 words and a short bio should be sent to rebedconference@gmail.com by 25 May 2014. Speakers whose abstracts have been accepted will be notified by 15 June.



Palgrave Studies in Literature, Science and Medicine

Edited by Sharon Ruston, Alice Jenkins, and Catherine Belling

Palgrave Studies in Literature, Science and Medicine is an exciting new series that focuses on one of the most vibrant and interdisciplinary areas in literary studies: the intersection of literature, science and medicine. Comprised of academic monographs, essay collections, and Palgrave Pivot books, the series will emphasize a historical approach to its subjects, in conjunction with a range of other theoretical approaches. The series will cover all aspects of this rich and varied field and is open to new and emerging topics as well as established ones.

About the editors

Sharon Ruston is a Chair in Romanticism and Research Director for the Department of English and Creative Writing at Lancaster University, UK. She sits on the Executive Committee for the British Society of Science and Literature.

Alice Jenkins is a Professor of Victorian Literature and Culture at Glasgow University, UK. She is also a co-founder and former chair of the British Society of Science and Literature.

Catherine Belling is an Associate Professor in Medical Humanities and Bioethics at Northwestern University, USA. She is also the Executive Editor of the journal ‘Literature and Medicine’.

Call for proposals

For information about submitting a Palgrave Studies in Literature, Science and Medicine proposal, please contact: Ben Doyle, or Catherine Belling, or Sharon Ruston to, Brigitte Shull, or Alice Jenkins.

Palgrave Studies in Literature, Science & Media

BSLS is pleased to announce the shortlist for this year's prize for the best book in the field of literature and science scholarship. The four shortlisted titles are:

The winner will be announced at the dinner of the annual conference, held in April at the University of Surrey.