May 2016

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The annual conference for 2017 will be held at Bristol University from 6th-8th April next year. Rosalind Powell will be leading the Bristol team. As usual, a call for papers will go out in the Autumn, with a deadline in early December. Decisions on accepted papers and panels will be announced in January. There will also be the opportunity for postgraduate bursaries.

Please save the dates!


Clifton Hill House, University of Bristol, Friday 20th January 2017.

‘It’s a kind of literary archaeology: on the basis of some information and a little bit of guesswork you journey to a site to see what remains were left behind and to reconstruct the world that these remains imply’. Toni Morrison is not the only writer to have imagined her work as a kind of archaeological digging, as an imaginative excavation of the past and a reconstruction of past lives from remains. From Wordsworth’s call to ‘grieve not, rather find / strength in what remains’ to Heaney’s bog poetry, writers have interrogated the significance of the earth, the buried, remains and fragments, and drawn upon techniques and tools associated with archaeology as a means of thinking about history, memory and the body. Conversely, archaeologists have begun to examine the potential influence of literature on their approaches to material traces and human remains. In the introduction to their 2015 book Subject and Narrative in Archaeology, Ruth M. Van Dyke and Reinhard Bernbeck note that there is an ‘increasing clamour for and interest in alternative forms of archaeological narratives, involving writing fiction, making films, constructing hypertexts, and creating media that transcend the traditional limitations of expository prose’ and that ‘Visual art, fiction, creative nonfiction, film, and drama have much to offer archaeological interpretation and analysis’. Literary critical approaches are also being recognised as useful ways of thinking about archaeological processes: for archaeologist John Hines, there is an ‘affinity between the scholarly disciplines’, archaeology involving ‘the same exercises of interpretation, analysis and evaluation as literary criticism.’

This conference brings together archaeologists, literary scholars and creative writers to explore similarities and points of convergence between literature, literary studies and archaeology across historical periods. We invite papers which adopt a range of disciplinary or interdisciplinary approaches to the relationship between archaeology and literature and/or the potential for methodological exchange between the disciplines. We are particularly interested in exploring synergies between archaeological science and literature, and how the human body as a site of archaeological knowledge might shape and be shaped by literary and critical approaches to the body.

Topics might include, but are not limited to:

  • Literary and cultural representations of archaeology
  • Fragments, remains and reconstruction in archaeology and literary studies
  • Theoretical uses of archaeology in the work of Benjamin, Freud, Foucault
  • Human remains, bodies, bones and skeletons in literature
  • The influence of archaeological writing on literary studies
  • Representations of archaeology in the media
  • Metaphor, analogy and storytelling in archaeology
  • The relationship between memory, history and narrative
  • Race and gender in archaeology


Confirmed keynote speakers include:

Dr. Robert Witcher, Durham University

Dr. Jerome de Groot, University of Manchester

Dr. Nadia Davids, Queen Mary University of London


This conference is supported by the AHRC and is being held as part of the AHRC-funded project ‘Literary Archaeology’: Exploring the Lived Environment of the Slave

Attendance at the conference is free and there is a limited fund for reimbursement of UK travel expenses. We are also pleased to offer a postgraduate bursary which will cover all expenses of the successful applicant.

There will be an opportunity to publish conference papers in a journal special issue following the conference.

Please send 250 word abstracts to by 16th September 2016. Delegates will be notified of the outcome in mid-October.

Science meets poetry is exclusive to EuroScience Open Forum and now celebrates its tenth year. The year 2016 is one of important anniversaries: 400th since the death of Shakespeare and Cervantès, 500th since the publication of More’s Utopia. Manchester, as the birthplace of the industrial revolution, looms large in the poetry of our times. Wordsworth who fled pollution to the Lake District can be cast as a forerunner of the ecologist-poets. Chemistry was vital for addicts such as Thomas de Quincey. Today, we even have poetry inspired by graphene. British poets and scientists have never been ignorant of science, as exemplified by Humphry Davy, who kept a laboratory notebook also containing his verse. We have evidence that Shakespeare knew about Tycho Brahe, his contemporary. Did his knowledge extend to the controversy between Tycho and Johannes Kepler surrounding the heliocentric theory? And what were his views on astrology?

View the whole schedule here.

Reviews that have appeared on the British Society for Literature and Science website in April 2016

A list of books for which we are currently seeking reviewers can be found here.

Please email Gavin Budge on <> if you would like to propose a book for review  - anything published from 2010 onwards will be considered.

This is a list of books that are currently in the process of being reviewed.

A list of books that have already been reviewed on the British Society for Literature and Science website can be found here.