November 2016

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Panel session at the 12th Annual Conference of the British Society for Literature and Science

6-8 April 2017, University of Bristol

 

In Imagined Communities (1983) Benedict Anderson famously argued that the idea of the nation, and national belonging, first developed with the rise of news periodicals and new ways of story-telling in novels. Readers and writers of these enacted a sense of national collectivity through the simultaneous and repetitive adoption of a shared outlook of the world. In Anderson’s framework, nations are communities imagined by literary means.

 

Our panel seeks to apply this approach to various learned collectives - the communities which scholars and scientists have considered themselves to be part of, such as the Republic of Letters, international science, the intelligentsia, academia, schools of thought within specific disciplines, etc. We want to consider how such groupings may have been called into being through the various forms of belles-lettres in writing, publishing, correspondence, and other means of literary communication. We will also examine how the use of literary techniques and genres within a learned discourse supported the visibility and shaped the identity of specific scholarly communities, sometimes facilitating their institutionalization.

 

Relevant issues include: how have specific literary tools, such as analogy, metaphor, and narrative sequencing of material, contributed to creating an idealized projection of learned discourse and hence community? How were non-verbal and emblematic means employed for mental and visual portrayal of guilds and corporations of knowledge? How was the imagining of learned communities involved in the global transfer of epistemic values, in synchronic and diachronic perspective? How have narrative ways of self-description helped learned groups to define their relations to national, political, religious, economic, and other environments? Using Ian Hacking’s “dialectical realism”, how have the invented categories of community induced patterns of behavior and thus contrived new ways of being?

 

We would like to address these and other related questions over a wide range of historical contexts, and invite proposals for twenty-minute papers to become part of the panel. Please send an abstract of 200 words and short biographical note to the panel conveners Maria Avxentevskaya (mavxentevskaya@mpiwg-berlin.mpg.de) and Geert Somsen (gjs2141@columbia.edu) by 7 December 2016. All enquiries concerning the 12th Annual Conference of the British Society for Literature and Science can also be sent to Ros Powell (bsls-2017@bristol.ac.uk). Please see the full CFP at https://www.bsls.ac.uk/2016/10/cfp-the-british-society-for-literature-and-science-annual-conference.

An interdisciplinary workshop, 26-27 May 2017, University of Aberdeen

Gut health has become a buzzword in contemporary culture. Ground-breaking research is pointing to potential links between the gut and such diverse areas as our mood, weight, and thought processes. The current debates on the digestive system and our physical and mental health, however, are not without precedent. The stomach occupied a central place in the development of medicine in the nineteenth century and the number of medical, literary and popular publications on digestion proliferated from this period onwards. With the exception of anorexia and obesity, however, few scholars have examined the cultural significance of the gut in the modern period, confirming the lowly status the abdomen has endured in the Western intellectual tradition.

This workshop aims to develop a new understanding of gut health in modern history by establishing a dialogue between different scholars on this aspect of the body. The preoccupation with guts and the bowels in the Early Modern period developed a new urgency in the nineteenth century through the rapid progress of medicine and the increased concern with the stomach as a site of self-fashioning. The obsession with the gut during this period was a highly cosmopolitan phenomenon crossing many fields of experience, and the workshop aims to bring together scholars from a range of specialisms, including English studies, Modern Languages, History, History of Medicine, Anthropology, Philosophy, Visual Studies, Religious Studies and History of Science.

Applications from postgraduate and early career scholars are particularly welcome.

Topics include, but are not limited to:

  • The history of psycho-gastric conditions
  • The history of nutritional physiology and metabolism
  • (In)digestion as a metaphorical framework
  • Literary portrayals of digestion, constipation and defecation
  • Digestive and excretory labours and authorial identity
  • Visual portrayals of the digestive system
  • The gut as a site of self-fashioning
  • Digestion and nationhood
  • Digestion and public health
  • Gut-brain connections
  • Digestion and modernity
  • Digestion and constipation in philosophical thought
  • The role of digestion in social relations
  • Digestive health as spiritual practice

Interdisciplinary approaches and international comparisons are strongly encouraged.

Contributors will be invited to submit developed papers for consideration for publication after the event.

Proposals should be no more than 300 words in length and a short biography should also be included. Please send to m.mathias@abdn.ac.uk by 31 January 2017.

This two-day workshop is funded by the University of Aberdeen School of Language, Literature, Music and Visual Culture; the Society for French Studies; the British Society for the History of Science; and the British Society for Literature and Science.

Nominations for The British Society for Literature and Science book prize 2016 are now being sought. All nominated books must be dated 2016 and should be academic titles (usually monographs or essay collections) in the area of literature and science (including technology and medicine, in all periods). The prize is not open to creative writing. Paid up members may nominate their own titles. Members of the BSLS committee are not eligible for the prize.

Nominations should be sent to Peter Garratt by 31 December 2016.

The announcement of the prize winner will take place at the annual conference in April.

As the third millennium progresses, science and technology more than ever govern human lives, and the topic of science and/in fiction shows no signs of decline, neither in terms of artistic production nor as an area of critical inquiry. As several critical accounts of the field of 21st century literature note, writers address contemporary issues such as environmental catastrophes and international conflicts, the proclaimed turn to precarity and the future of the planet and of humanity. Yet, at the same time, writers also appear disposed to look back, continuing to make the past and issues of time, history and temporality dominant concerns. But the question arises of what this turn to the past means in view of our narrative engagement with technology, projections of the future and its place in human life today and in times to come: (how) can it be that literature set in the 19th and 20th centuries imitates earlier styles and techniques and engages with technologies that once had a frightening impact but have become part of our reality long ago? How do these trends relate to the typically speculative view of science fiction? What happens to the characteristic orientation towards futuristic science and settings and, on the other hand, to conceptions of realism? Considering, for instance, the booming genres of Neo-Victorian fiction, adaptations and re-tellings, (how) can it be that upon entering the new millennium, writers seem to find greater imaginative stimulus in the past than in the present and the future?

The edited collection of essays aims to address current directions in fictional science narratives in different media. It brackets questions of scientific accuracy and the well-trodden path of the ‘two cultures’ debate to explore what modes, forms, and genres emerge and dominate in the 21st century. Aside from tracing new and old boundaries between kinds of knowledge, modes of narration and perceiving reality, and between facts and fiction, the ethical dimension of the question ‘can it be’ might include narrative representations of risk, fear, and cultural assumptions about scientists and the research enterprise.

We invite contributions that address 20th century developments from a 21st perspective, as well as theoretical reflections on new trends and movements, surveys and close readings of narratives, including novels, drama, film, young adult fiction, and graphic fiction.

Papers may deal with (but are of course not limited to) the following topics and interrelations:

 

  • Science and genre, e.g. the historical novel, thriller, satire, fantasy, dystopia, transrealism, and life-writing
  • Science and ethics
  • Science and religion, secularism
  • Science and/as terror
  • Science and (post)human identity
  • Science – still between fascination and fear?

Please send 300-500 words abstracts to Dr Nina Engelhardt (nina.engelhardt@uni-koeln.de) and Dr Julia Hoydis (julia.hoydis@uni-koeln.de).

 

Deadline for submission of abstracts: 01.02.2017.

Notice of acceptance: 01.03. 2017.

Deadline for submission of papers (7000 words): 01.01.2018

 

Merveilles Électriques

Invention littéraire, vulgarisation et circulation médiatique

Colloque international
Organisé par Claire Barel-Moisan (CNRS. ENS-Lyon. UMR IHRIM), Delphine Gleizes (Université Lyon 2. UMR IHRIM)

Les XVIIIe et XIXe siècles constituent une période essentielle dans l’histoire des découvertes sur le magnétisme et l’électricité. Elle se caractérise par l’élaboration d’hypothèses scientifiques viables, par la mise en place de procédures expérimentales à même de les étayer et, bien sûr, par le développement des applications techniques et pratiques qui en découlent : éclairage, énergie motrice, progrès dans les transmissions et les transports, etc. Ces découvertes dans le domaine des fluides modifient définitivement le rapport au monde. Par le caractère spectaculaire des expériences menées et des progrès engendrés, l’histoire de ces découvertes s’ancre également dans l’imaginaire contemporain, suscitant une production abondante de textes et d’images. Ce colloque se propose d’analyser la diversité des productions scientifiques, littéraires et médiatiques, dont la circulation témoigne de deux siècles de fascination pour les « merveilles électriques ».

16, 17 et 18 novembre : BU Lyon 1, MILC Lyon 2, et ENS Lyon

University of Bristol, 6-8 April 2017

ONE MONTH LEFT TO SUBMIT YOUR ABSTRACTS!

The twelfth annual conference of the British Society for Literature and Science will take place at the University of Bristol, from Thursday 6 April until Saturday 8 April 2017.

Keynote talks will be given by Professor Havi Carel (University of Bristol), Professor Robert Mitchell (Duke University), and Professor Ralph O’Connor (University of Aberdeen).

The BSLS invites proposals for twenty-minute papers, or panels of three papers, on any subjects within the field of literature and science.  Please send an abstract (c.200 words) and short biographical note to the conference organiser (Ros Powell bsls-2017@bristol.ac.uk) by no later than 5pm GMT, Friday 9 December 2016. Please see the full CFP at www.bsls.ac.uk

2017: A Clarke Odyssey

A Conference Marking the Centenary of Sir Arthur C. Clarke
Canterbury Christ Church University, Canterbury, UK
Saturday 9 December 2017

Keynote Speakers: Stephen Baxter
Dr Sarah Dillon (University of Cambridge)

Sir Arthur C. Clarke is one of the most important British sf writers of the twentieth century - novelist, short-story writer, scriptwriter, science populariser, fan, presenter of documentaries on the paranormal, proposer of the uses of the geosynchronous orbit and philanthropist.

We want to celebrate his life, work and influence on science fiction, science and beyond.

We are looking for twenty-minute papers on topics such as:

*       any of Clarke's publications
*       influences on Clarke
*       Clarke's influence on others
*       the Second World War
*       Sri Lanka/Ceylon
*       the Cold War
*       adaptations to film, television, radio and comic books - 2001: A Space Odyssey, 2010: The Year We Make Contact, Rendezvous with Rama, Trapped in Space, etc.
*       collaborations
*       A.I. and computers
*       alien encounters and first contact
*       astronomy, space and space travel
*       Big Dumb Objects
*       the destiny of life and mind in the universe
*       the far future
*       futurology
*       politics
*       religion, the transcendent and the paranormal
*       science and scientists
*       world government
*       Young Adult fiction
*       the Arthur C. Clarke Award for science fiction, the Sir Arthur Clarke Award for achievements in space and the Arthur C. Clarke Foundation awards

Please submit four-hundred-word abstracts and a hundred-word biography to AndrewMButler42@gmail.com and P.A.March-Russell@kent.ac.uk by 30 July 2017.

The conference will be co-organised by Dr Andrew M. Butler (Canterbury Christ Church University) and Dr Paul March-Russell (University of Kent). Further details will be available from https://2017aclarkeodyssey.wordpress.com/

 

Fully Funded PhD Studentship on  Nuclear Literature and Culture (School of Arts and Humanities, Nottingham Trent University)

http://www4.ntu.ac.uk/research/ntu_doctoral_school/studentships/index.html

Closing date is 12 noon on Friday 9 December. For informal discussion regarding the project, please contact: daniel.cordle@ntu.ac.uk

 

We invite applications from prospective PhD students wishing to work on nuclear literature and culture under the supervision of Dr. Daniel Cordle and Prof. Phil Leonard. There is no restriction on the specific focus of the project, but possible areas for the research include:

 

  • Nuclear literature of the Cold War or post-Cold War periods
  • The nuclear Anthropocene
  • Nuclear imagery and motifs
  • Nuclear criticism (i.e. theories and concepts in nuclear studies)
  • Nuclear technologies and infrastructure in literature
  • Nuclear science in literature
  • Material and cultural legacies of the nuclear age
  • Post-apocalyptic literature

 

The successful applicant will be based in a department that is recognized internationally for its high quality research and which has a lively research culture. Dr. Cordle has written extensively on North American and British nuclear literature and culture, including the monographs, States of Suspense: The Nuclear Age, Postmodernism and United States Fiction and Prose (Ashgate, 2008) and Late Cold War Culture: The Nuclear 1980s (Palgrave, forthcoming), as well as on literature and science. Prof. Leonard is an expert on technology, culture and debates about globalization. The candidate should demonstrate good knowledge of nuclear culture or of related areas (e.g. Cold War culture; contemporary literature and technology; literature and science). His/her project should be clearly defined and seek to advance knowledge in the burgeoning area of the Nuclear Humanities.

Scale of Nature: Long Nineteenth-Century Culture and the Great Chain of Being
One-Day Conference
Saturday 18 March 2017
Centre for Nineteenth-Century Studies and Centre for Visual Arts and Culture
https://www.dur.ac.uk/cncs/conferences/scaleofnature/
CFP Deadline: Friday 25 November 2016
Durham University, UK
Keynote Address: Professor Peter Bowler (Queen’s University, Belfast)

CALL FOR PAPERS

Amongst the paradigms current in nineteenth-century culture the Great Chain of Being frequently held pride of place, vying against Darwinian approaches in what historian of science Peter Bowler described broadly as the ‘non-Darwinian revolution’. Arming scientists with a scale of nature - a fixed hierarchical arrangement of the natural world from the lowest rudimentary forms of life to its apogee in man – the Great Chain helped Victorian Britain reassert order and control in the face of perceived threats by the inherent randomness, chance and uncertainty of Darwin’s evolutionary theory. Paradoxically, in the battle between The Great Chain and Darwin, it was the Great Chain of Being that was frequently the fittest survivor. This one-day interdisciplinary conference examines this phenomenon, exploring Britain’s understanding of the Scale of Nature by investigating the Great Chain of Being in the context of the pre-, non- and post-Darwinian as well as Darwinian evolutionary culture in the long nineteenth century. It pays particular attention to visual representations of natural hierarchies.

We invite academic and institutional staff, postgraduates and other researchers to submit abstracts of 300 words for 20-minute individual papers, and 500 words for panels (three papers). Topics might include, but are not limited to:

• The history of The Great Chain as diversely and divergently reinterpreted by nineteenth-century figures
• Visual and spatial representations of The Great Chain of Being and competitor evolutionary ideas, as found in drawings, paintings, book illustration, cinema, photography, sculpture, architecture, museum design, exhibition and taxidermy spaces, and zoological gardens
• Implications for literary contexts, such as fiction, poetry, history and biography
• Its cultural influence in the arts more broadly, including evolutionary impacts in theatre, dance and music and other performance-related activities
Abstract Submission Information
Please send abstracts to Enya Doyle at cncs@durham.ac.uk by Friday 4 November 2016.
Confirmation of acceptances will be made by Friday 25 November 2016.

For more information, please contact Bennett Zon at bennett.zon@durham.ac.uk or
Ludmilla Jordanova at ludmilla.jordanova@durham.ac.uk

 

Reviews that have appeared on the British Society for Literature and Science website in October 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 2012 onwards will be considered.

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

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