June 2016

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Winter Symposium – The Politics of Literature and Science

BSLS members are invited to send in proposals to host the third BSLS one-day symposium in November 2016.

At the AGM, the BSLS membership voted again to support, in addition to the annual conference, a one-day symposium in November 2016 on the theme of the politics of literature and science. A budget of £500 will be made available to members to fund the symposium.

The second Winter Symposium was held last year on the subject of archives, at the University of Reading. Details of this, along with the first symposium on teaching, can still be found on the BSLS website.

Proposals should include:

*   a statement of up to 500 words setting out the rationale for the event and how it interprets the over-arching theme

*   contact details for the organiser(s)

*   the venue(s) and date of the symposium

*   a provisional programme including provisional or confirmed speakers and panels

*   a clear budget explaining how the grant will be spent.

A small registration fee may be set for the symposium if required; if it is, this should be justified in the proposal. The BSLS will be named as the official sponsor of the event, but it will not take on further financial liability beyond the grant itself.

Applicants must be members of the BSLS both when the application is made and when the symposium is held. International members of the BSLS are welcome to apply for the awards. Applications should be emailed as a Word document to the Chair of the BSLS, Martin Willis (willism8@cardiff.ac.uk), and copied to the Secretary Greg Lynall (g.j.lynall@liverpool.ac.uk) by Monday 8th August 2016. Applications will be considered by the BSLS Executive Committee. The award will be made to the application which the Committee judges as best fulfilling the overall aims of the BSLS and serving its members and the academic community as a whole. Successful applicants will be informed as soon as possible after the deadline.

Queries about the symposium in the first instance are encouraged and should be directed to Martin Willis.

No correspondence will be entered into about the decisions of the Committee. Serving members of the BSLS Executive Committee are not eligible to apply for the grant. They may be included in the proposal for the symposium as participants, but they may not receive any of the award money either as costs or fees.

Creating Romanticism

Case Studies in the Literature, Science and Medicine of the 1790s 

Sharon Ruston 

Paperback edition out June 2016 


Palgrave Studies in the Enlightenment, Romanticism and the Cultures of Print Paperback


Jun 2016

£19.50 $34.99



May 2013

£58.00 $95.00

264 pp

216 mm x 138 mm



  1. Mary Wollstonecraft and Nature
  2. William Godwin and the Imagination
  3. Romantic Creation
  4. Humphry Davy and the Sublime
  5. Conclusion Bibliography

About the book 

This book argues that the term 'Romanticism' should be more culturally-inclusive, recognizing the importance of scientific and medical ideas that helped shape some of the key concepts of the period, such as natural rights, the creative imagination and the sublime. The book discusses a range of authors including Joanna Baillie, Edmund Burke, Erasmus Darwin, William Godwin, Joseph Priestly, Mary Shelley and Mary Wollstonecraft. Chapters look at these figures from a new perspective, using their journal articles, diaries, manuscript notebooks and poetry, as well as unpublished letters. Humphry Davy is given particular attention and his poetry and chemistry are explored as central to Romantic efforts in both poetry and science.

Sharon Ruston is Chair in Romanticism at Lancaster University, UK. She has published Shelley and Vitality (2005), Romanticism: An Introduction (2007), and has edited The Influence and Anxiety of the British Romantics: Spectres of Romanticism (1999), Literature and Science (2008) and co-edited Teaching Romanticism (2010).

"...a fascinating and thoroughly convincing call to re-examine not just "Romanticism and Science" but "Romanticism" itself. If Ruston is correct about the deliberate use of scientific and medical ideas in some of the period's foundational literary texts - and I have every confidence that she is - then Creating Romanticism should find an audience well beyond those of us interested in the science of the day and become required reading for all students of the period."

— James Robert Allard, Keats-Shelley Journal 

"...offers a lively, de-centred view of British Romanticism, considered from the multiple vantage points provided by the complex structure of its intellectual and social networks".

— Noah Heringman, The Keats-Shelley Review 

'Ruston's book offers a valuable addition to the long history of research into science in the Romantic era: its strength resides particularly in its grasp of the political sub-texts of the interpretation of scientific ideas in the period, as well as in the accounts of little-discussed texts, and in the importance it rightly accords to Davy.'

— Edward Larrissy, The BARS Review 

The deadline for the 2016 prize for the best new essay by an early career scholar on a topic within the field of literature and science approaches fast - Friday 17th June. Additional submissions in the time before the deadline are very much encouraged.

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 Josie Gill, Communications Officer of the BSLS (josie.gill@bristol.ac.uk), and Martin Willis, Editor of the JLS(willism8@cardiff.ac.uk), by 12 noon on Friday, 17th June, 2016

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 https://www.bsls.ac.uk/join-us/).

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 the JLS. The winner will also receive a prize of £100.

The winning essay for 2015 was Maria Avxentevskaya’s ‘The Spiritual Optics of Narrative: John Wilkins’s popularization of Copernicanism’ which was published in issue 8.2 of the JLS in December 2015. Read this and other prize winning essays in issues 7.2 and 6.2 at www.literatureandscience.org

(The judges reserve the right not to award the prize should no essay of a high enough standard be submitted.)

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

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

Please email Gavin Budge on <G.Budge@herts.ac.uk> 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.

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