October 2018

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CALL FOR PAPERS: ASLE-UKI BIENNIAL CONFERENCE 2019
4th to 6th September 2019, University of Plymouth
The University of Plymouth is delighted to be hosting the 2019 Biennial Conference of the Association for the Study of Literature and the Environment, UK and Ireland.
Confirmed Plenary Speakers:
  • Greg Garrard (University of British Columbia)
  • David Higgins (University of Leeds)
  • Adeline Johns-Putra (University of Surrey)
  • Harriet Tarlo (Sheffield Hallam University)
While proposals on all and any aspects and periods of environmental literature are welcome, this year's theme is 'Co-emergence, Co-creation, Co-existence'. We invite proposals for individual (20-minute) papers, or pre-formed panels (90 minutes) which may comprise traditional panels of 3 or 4 papers, roundtables or paper jams with 6 or more speakers, or other innovative formats. We welcome proposals for creative contributions or creative-critical dialogues. The deadline for proposals is April 1st 2019.
Send proposals and queries to: asleuki2019@gmail.com
Visit the conference website at: https://www.plymouth.ac.uk/whats-on/asle

As genetic science develops at breakneck speed, cultural representations register in their form and content changing ideas about the self and personhood, consciousness, behaviour and motivation, heredity, and the boundaries of the human body. And yet, ‘western’ science is only one of a number of frameworks that provide explanations for these phenomena. Knowledge, assumptions and beliefs about what a gene is and what the human genome is, about inheritance, kinship, who owns the body, its parts and ‘data’, are not universal but are culturally produced, culturally interpreted, and culturally situated. For many indigenous communities, for instance, genes may be understood as ‘the ancestors within’ (Grace 1998), a perspective generating different philosophical questions from those raised by ‘western’ scientific frameworks about the make-up of the self and different ethical priorities regarding genetic research.

In this symposium we seek to bring together two recent currents in contemporary biocultural scholarship: a) critical engagement with the representation of ideas from genetic science in media and cultural texts; and b) the development of postcolonial approaches to biomedicine and the life sciences, which interrogate the cultural biases and structural inequalities inherent in these fields. We shall explore the representation of genetic discourse in literature, film, news media, popular culture and philosophy across cultures, and will pay particular attention to representations from the global South.

Topics for consideration may include, but are not limited to, the following:

* How creative works from around the world engage with scientific concepts of the gene, genomics, epigenetics, as well as related ideas including human variation, inheritance and ancestry;

* How genes, the human genome, heredity, and ownership of genetic information are conceptualised across different cultural frameworks;

* How cultural texts are both influenced by, and help to shape understandings of, genetic science;

* How cultural texts negotiate questions of identity (including race, disability, gender, sexuality, and species) in relation to genetics;

* Representations of genetic research, including its methodologies, dissemination, and ethics;

* Postcolonial/decolonial/indigenous approaches to the legal, ethical, regulatory, and market frameworks of the life sciences;

* The relationships between genre, form and genetic representations.

We welcome perspectives from disciplines including literary studies, film studies, history, law, media and cultural studies, critical and cultural theory, philosophy, postcolonial studies, critical medical humanities, disability studies, and bioethics. We are also keen to include participation from creative practitioners (writers, filmmakers, visual artists, performance artists) whose work engages with genetic science, and welcome proposals for creative sessions (film screenings, readings, performances, art exhibits).

Please submit 300-word proposals plus a short bio (100 words) to Clare Barker at c.f.barker@leeds.ac.uk. We also have a limited number of spaces for non-speaking participants; if you would like to attend please submit a short description (200 words max) of how the symposium relates to your field of research, creative or professional practice. The closing date for submissions is Friday 21 December 2018.

This symposium is part of a University of Leeds research project on ‘Genetics and Biocolonialism in Contemporary Literature and Film’ and is funded by a Wellcome Trust Seed Award [grant number 106839/Z/15/Z]. Attendance is free and catering will be provided for all delegates. Accommodation and travel expenses will be covered for all speakers.

***50% discount available to BSLS members***.

 

An unmissable evening where poetry and science meet and share a stage, a night that will sparkle with readings and short talks, when we will hear the poetry of science and see how the scientific entreprise opens up realms of poetry. Join us on this epic journey of human curiosity and imagination.

We are honoured to welcome some of Britain's most distinguished poets and prominent sceintists to this special evening.

The Poet Laureate Carol Ann Duffy, who will read from her brand new collection, Sincerity

IVF pioneer, eminent science broadcaster and author, Lord Robert Winston

Simon Armitage, Oxford Professor of Poetry and author of The Unaccompanied

Physicist, author, braodcaster, presenter of BBC Radio Four's The LIfe Scientific, Professor Jim Al-Khalili

John Agard, recipient of the Queen's Gold Medal for Poetry and author of Half Caste and Clever Backbone (inspired by Darwin's theory of evolution)

Anatomist, author, broadcaster, and this year's Royal Institution Christmas Lecturer, Professor Alice Roberts

Gillian Clarke, former National Poet for Wales, recipient of the Queen's Gold Medal for Poetry, and author of Zoology

Space scientist and presenter of the BBC's iconic astronomy programme, The Sky At Night, Dr Maggie Aderin-Pocock

Daljit Nagra, winner of the Forward Best First Collection and poet-in-residence at BBC Radio Four

Geneticist, author, broadcaster, BBC Reith Lecturer, Professor Steve Jones

Imtiaz Dharker, poet, artist, film-maker, recipient of the Queen's Gold Medal.

UCL chemist, winner of the Michael Faraday Prize, Professor Andrea Sella

Grace Nichols award-winning poet and novelist

Nuclear fusion expert, lecturer at the Royal Institution, Dr Kate Lancaster

Computer scientist, inventor, broadcaster, Professor Dave Cliff

Book now! All proceeds will go to MacMillan Cancer Support.

 

https://www.eventbrite.com/e/full-moon-a-night-of-poetry-and-science-tickets-46241414315

Department of English and Creative Writing, University of Roehampton and the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, Kew’s imperial archive: Cataloguing Economic Botany in the Miscellaneous Reports, 1841-1928

This studentship offers the opportunity to research and study the history, composition and arrangement of a major collection held in the archives of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew: the Miscellaneous Reports; 771 volumes of printed and manuscript material relating to the administration of the British colonial botanic gardens and stations, dating from the 1840s to 1928. Full project description here.

‘Kew’s imperial archive: Cataloguing Economic Botany in the Miscellaneous Reports, 1841-1928’: https://www.roehampton.ac.uk/graduate-school/techne-collaborative-doctoral-programmes-at-roehampton/

On Wednesday 24th October, Maureen Duffy, D.Litt, King's Fellow, author and pioneering activist will read several pieces from her own work, followed by a Q and A session. All welcome.

6-7:30pm, S8.08, Department of History, Strand Campus, King's College London.

Further information can be found at - https://animalhistorygroup.wordpress.com/ or by emailing animalhistorygroup@gmail.com

No need to book, but please can external visitors notify the organisers beforehand for security purposes.

Date: Saturday 24th November 2018 (10:00 – 18:00)

Location: Cardiff University

Organisers: Joan Passey (Exeter, jp374@exeter.ac.uk), Louise Benson-James (Bristol, louise.bensonjames@bristol.ac.uk), Jim Scown (Cardiff, scownj@cardiff.ac.uk)

Keynote: ‘Biggish Data: Friedrich Engels, Material Ecology, and Victorian Data’ by John Parham, University of Worcester

The Environmental Humanities have gained momentum relatively recently, contributing to developing theories of the Anthropocene, responding to rapid changes in climate, and addressing our changing relationship with the world around us. They have also raised questions of how we define, shape, protect, and imagine our environments. This symposium provides a space to consider such questions, while also encompassing a wider sense of environment. How do we discuss the environments of literature – its production, dissemination, and reception? How do we understand the environments of science – its construction, its laboratories, its spaces of discourse? In what environments do we engage with Literature and Science as an interdisciplinary field, and in what environments do we teach, research, and encounter interactions between literature and science? These questions are bound up with, and have the potential to greatly impact, the environmental turn in humanities scholarship.

The research environment is under increasing scrutiny with discussions surrounding funding, the future of research, interdisciplinarity and collaboration, the mental health and wellbeing of researchers, and how the infrastructure and shape of research environments will look in the future. Doctoral and research awards focus on interdisciplinarity and collaboration, and the AHRC's four research themes (Care for the Future: Thinking Forward through the Past, Digital Transformations in the Arts and Humanities, Science in Culture, and Translating Cultures) all provide scope to consider the history of environments, environments of research, and how we interpret our environments. This symposium provides an opportunity for researchers to reflect on the significance of environments to their research at all stages of their careers, with the aim of providing a supportive collaborative environment in and of itself, while simultaneously offering a forum for considering how literature and science scholarship might address the environmental challenges of the present and future.

Potential topics include, but are not limited to:

  • Environments of science, including laboratories, field work, universities, hospitals, theatres
  • Science and literatures of the environment and environmental sciences
  • Global environments; cultural environments; globalisation, national identities, international identities, regionality; postcolonial environmentalism and postcolonial literature and science
  • The natural world; animals in the environment; habitats, habitation and cohabitation; agriculture, food and the environment;
  • The urban world; the built environment; the subterranean
  • Toxic environments; pollution, contagion, poison, criminality, danger, rebellion, resistance; antagonistic environments; monstrous, sublime, and frightening environments; the ecogothic
  • What environments best enable the staging, performance, adaptation, re-imagining, or re-working of literature and science?

We welcome proposals for 20 minute papers. Please send an abstract of no more than 300 words to bslsenvironments@gmail.com by Monday 22nd October 2018, accompanied by a short biography (60 – 100 words). We welcome proposals for panel presentations, as well as for poster presentations to be held during the lunch break.

 

There are several events coming up in Oxford over the next few weeks connected to nineteenth-century literature and science. Click on the link for the schedule for this term's Science, Medicine and Culture seminars and see the poster for an evening event on Victorian Speed produced by the Diseases of Modern Life project:

Oxford Science, Medicine and Culture in the Nineteenth Century seminars Autumn 2018

CALL FOR PAPERS

The fourteenth annual conference of the British Society for Literature and Science will take place at Royal Holloway, University of London, from Thursday 4 April until Saturday 6 April 2019. Keynote speakers will include Professor Tim Armstrong (Royal Holloway) and Professor Angelique Richardson (Exeter).

The BSLS invites proposals for 20-minute papers, panels of three papers, or special roundtables on any subjects within the field of science (including medicine and technology), and literatures in the broadest sense, including theatre, film, and television. There is no special theme for this conference, but abstracts or panels exploring one of the following topics are especially welcome: (1) how the literatures of Africa, the Americas, Asia, or Australasia address, interact with, or respond to the discourses of science; (2) the digital humanities; (3) the writing, reading, and interpretation of human nature; (4) innovative or progressive models for uniting the sciences and the humanities.

In addition, we are hoping to put together sessions with looser, non-traditional formats, and would welcome proposals from any person or persons interested in making presentations of approximately ten minutes from notes rather than completed papers. The hope is that this format will encourage longer Q&A sessions with more discussion.

Please send an abstract (200 words) and short biographical note (50 words) to the conference organiser, Dr. Mike Wainwright, mike.wainwright@rhul.ac.uk, by no later than 18.00 GMT, Friday 7 December 2018. Include the abstract and biographical note in the body of the email.

All proposers of a paper or panel will receive notification of the results by the end of January 2019.

The conference fee will be waived for two graduate students in exchange for written reports on the conference, to be published in the BSLS Newsletter. If you are interested in being selected for one of these awards, please mention this when sending in your proposal. To qualify you will need to be registered for a postgraduate degree at the time of the conference.

Information concerning onsite accommodation and local hotels will be forthcoming.

Membership: conference delegates will need to register/renew as members of the BSLS (annual membership: £25 waged/ £10 unwaged).

We are delighted to announce that the British Society for Literature and Science and Journal of Literature and Science prize for an essay by an early-career scholar has been won by Lara Choksey for her essay “Peripheral Adaptation: Living with Climate Change in Doris Lessing’s The Making of the Representative for Planet 8”.

 

We offer our congratulations to Lara for what the judges agreed was a striking and original essay. The essay will be published in the next available issue of JLS, and its author will also receive a prize of £100.

 

The judging panel wrote: “This year’s prize-winning essay offers a fascinating reading of Lessing’s The Making of the Representative for Planet 8. It convincingly argues that the novel responds to the post-war neoimperial governance of decolonised African nations through its depiction of a genetically engineered labour force of Planet 8ers, in what amounts to a science fictional representation of the imperial invention of race. Choksey skilfully reads the novel through the lens of epigenetic science, bringing that science into conversation with global political debates about race, capitalism, decolonisation and development. Persuasively contending that Lessing explores the potential of biologically different modes of living in an era of ecological crisis and racist exploitation, Choksey’s essay offers an important and timely contribution to the work of undoing the epistemological and psychological effects of imperial rule, and in so doing opens up new vistas for the study of literature and science.

 

We would like to thank all the BSLS members who submitted essays for this year's prize. As usual, we were delighted by the high standard of the submissions we received and thoroughly enjoyed reading all of them.

BSLS Book Prize 2018

Nominations are now being accepted for the BSLS Book Prize 2018. Inaugurated in 2007, the annual British Society for Literature and Science book prize is awarded for the best book in the field of literature and science published that year. Any book is eligible, but can only be considered if it is nominated either by a member of BSLS or by its publisher. Publishers are very welcome to nominate their own books. Members may nominate their own titles. Please note that individual memberships must be current and the publication in question must be dated 2018 to be eligible. Members of the BSLS committee are not eligible for the Prize. A panel of BSLS executive committee members and scholars will read all submissions, with the winner announced at the next annual conference, in Royal Holloway (4-6 April 2019). Please send all nominations to bslsbookprize@gmail.com by 31 December 2018.

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