The Politics of Literature and Science
Queen’s Building, University of Exeter, Saturday, 12 November, 2016
Organiser: Corinna Wagner (Department of English, Exeter University)
This BSLS Winter Symposium will explore relationships between politics, science, medicine, literature and visual culture. We will take ‘politics’ in both its broadest sense—considering for example, the politics of the body, the politics of scientific institutions, and how scientific and political discourse has shaped imaginative forms of expression (and vice versa). We will also take ‘politics’ in a more specific sense, to address how literary writers and artists actively intervened in specific medico-political debates, or how their novels, poems and plays acted as ‘mediums’ of scientific and political cross-pollination.
We would also like to invite papers that focus on the current field. What are the politics of researching and teaching in the field of literature and science? Contributors might want to reflect on engagement and collaboration, for example. The BSLS Winter Symposium will provide an opportunity for practitioners—artists, poets and novelists—and academics and theorists to share their methods and findings.
In terms of topics, contributors might consider how literary writers and artists raised and addressed scientific questions about, for instance:
- medical treatments
- the design of medical and scientific institutions
- the collaborative or conflicting goals of scientists and governments
- environmental policies and climate change issues
- urban reform
- social health reform policy
- the uses of statistics and data
- the scientific and political goals of empire
- the application of science to issues of race
- tropical medicine
One of the emphases of this one-day symposium will be the idea of transhistorical and transdisciplinary inheritance and exchange. For instance, how did eighteenth- or nineteenth-century ideas about contagion, excess, monstrosity, materialism, rationality, waste, dirt, geography or geology migrate between scientific, political and literary realms? And, what are the legacies of this migration? What historical continuities exist between past and present?
Lastly, we particularly invite graduate students to participate in a ‘policy show &tell’: these are 10 minute slots in which each presenter suggests ways their own humanities research could address or attempt to solve a current medical/scientific/health problem.
Please submit short proposals to Corinna Wagner on firstname.lastname@example.org by 31 October, 2016