October 2020

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Annual Conference of the German Association for Postcolonial Studies (GAPS)

University of Oldenburg, 13-15 May 2021

Confirmed Keynote Speakers:

Warwick Anderson, U of Sydney
Pettina Gappah, author of Out of Darkness, Shining Light
Josie Gill, U of Bristol
Graham Huggan, U of Leeds
Jaspreet Singh, author of Helium
Banu Subramaniam, U of Massachusetts Amherst

Science is at the heart of some of the most vexing questions facing postcolonial studies today: think, for instance, about the role of science in struggles for environmental justice, in postcolonial responses to the debate about the concept of the Anthropocene, in cultural and political responses to pandemics from HIV/AIDS to the coronavirus, or in the imagination of postcolonial futures in contemporary science fiction. Science – itself a heterogenous set of concepts, practices, settings, and knowledges – often occupies a profoundly contradictory position in such debates: it may be referenced, all at once, as cause of environmental degradation, but also medium of diagnosis, and as remedy; it is historically connected to histories of colonial oppression but also to the promises of post-independence modernism; it has sometimes been co-opted by parochial nationalism, yet science education also promises improvement and emancipation for marginalized and disenfranchised people.

Since the late 1980s, science and technology studies (STS) have critically interrogated the (self-) image of science as a unified practice – universal, objective, and culturally neutral. From the acrimonious opposition of science and cultural studies during the “science wars” of the 1990s, recent scholarship has moved to more nuanced understandings of the entanglements of science and its cultural contexts. Where early proponents of postcolonial STS concentrated on rehabilitating indigenous knowledge vis-à-vis “Western” science, more recent approaches have questioned this dualistic opposition and instead argued for a critical geography of scientific production.

Yet the cultural imagination of this connection has rarely been made a focus of research. This is true for the incisive research in the social sciences and anthropology on the ambivalent relation of science and postcolonial modernities, as well as for the burgeoning debate about literature and science in literary criticism, which has often retained a focus on European and American texts. While genres such as postcolonial science fiction and Afrofuturism have already been recognized in this context, the range and variety in which the nexus of science and culture is addressed and represented in postcolonial narratives across the anglophone world remains underexplored.

Against this background, the conference seeks to facilitate conversations on science and culture in postcolonial contexts that bring together different disciplinary perspectives such as postcolonial literary scholarship, science and technology studies, literature and science studies, history and philosophy of science, and the environmental humanities. This critical reflection will provide new perspectives on themes and debates such as postcolonial science fiction, the Anthropocene, new materialism, bio-colonialism, and global disparities in scientific mobility. We encourage a broad understanding of ‘postcolonial narratives’ and invite contributions that explore entanglements of science, literature and culture across different genres and media forms, including literature, film and other visual media, and public discourse.

Possible topics include, but are not limited to:

  • Representations of the role of science in social/political conflicts:

-           Questions of environmental justice

-           The corona-crisis, HIV/AIDS, and other pandemics and public health crises

-           Biotechnology/bioprospecting/biopiracy

-           Nuclear (weapons) technology; nuclear testing, waste, and resource extraction

-           Class/caste conflicts over science education

-           Science, colonialism and neo-colonialism

-           Science, culture, and religion

-           Science and the global economy

  • Roles and relations of the sciences and the humanities in the Anthropocene debate
  • English as “the language of science”
  • Postcolonial and transcultural perspectives on science education
  • Science and culture in the EFL-classroom
  • Science and nationalist movements
  • Colonies as “laboratories of modernity” (Paul Rabinow)
  • Narrating knowledge practices in different historical and cultural settings
  • Science, narrative, and indigenous knowledges
  • Postcolonial perspectives on the “globalization of knowledge”
  • Postcolonial technoscience and biopolitics
  • Postcolonial perspectives in/on the medical humanities
  • Professional and intellectual migration, global disparities of knowledge production
  • Scientist characters in postcolonial fiction
  • Postcolonial science fiction, Afrofuturism
  • Historical fiction, (postcolonial) revisions/rewritings of the history of science

Please submit abstracts (300 words) and a biographical note (150 words) by December 31, 2020 to gaps2021@uni-oldenburg.de by December 31, 2020. For further details, please check the conference website: https://gaps2021.uol.de/

Work in progress in anglophone postcolonial studies – including M.A./M.Ed., PhD and Postdoc projects as well as ongoing research projects in general – can be presented in the “Under Construction” section of the conference, for which poster presentations are also welcome. Submit abstracts for project presentations to gaps2021@uni-oldenburg.de by March 1, 2021.

Please note that all speakers except invited guests and students must be members of GAPS. A limited number of travel bursaries are available for emerging scholars, part-time or currently unemployed speakers who are, or will become, members of GAPS. If you wish to apply for a travel bursary, please indicate so via e-mail to the conference organizers by March 1, 2021.

Conference Organizers:

Anton Kirchhofer (anton.kirchhofer@uni-oldenburg.de)
Karsten Levihn-Kutzler (karsten.levihn-kutzler@uni-oldenburg.de)

We are delighted to announce that the Symbiosis network will be holding its next conference online on 9th, 11th and 13th November from Oxford University Museum of Natural History, supported by the University of Birmingham. The theme of the conference is Symbiosis: Art and Science in Natural History Museums and Collections. To see the programme and register for the different sessions, click here.

The sixteenth annual conference of the British Society for Literature and Science will be held online from 8 to 10 April 2021, with ongoing access to posted papers through to the end of April for BSLS members. The conference will consist of a mixture of synchronous and asynchronous events.

The BSLS invites proposals for 15-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.

Please send an abstract (200 words) and short biographical note (50 words) in Word or pdf format to http://bsls.wetransfer.com/ by no later than 18.00 GMT on Friday 11 December. Please put your surname then a brief title in the name of the file. Proposals will be reviewed anonymously. Notices of acceptances should be expected by 18 January 2021. 

Presentations of accepted papers can be shared as:

  • short videos (preferably under 15 minutes and 300 MB; we recommend .mp4 but will accept any widely-used format),
  • PowerPoints with or without audio narration (under 300 MB), or
  • PDFs of text (2500 words, maximum, excluding citations).

Membership: conference delegates will need to register/renew as members of the BSLS (annual membership: £25 waged/ £10 unwaged). Delegates will need to renew their memberships by 31 March to be assured timely digital access.

Friday 30 October: 16.30-18.00 (London); 17.30-19.00 (Rome); 11:30-13.00 (New York)
The focus of this workshop revisits and reconsiders the diverse literary forms that comprised early modern, natural philosophical knowledge and practice. From narrative poetry and allegorical romance, to philosophical theatre and thought experiments in prose, forms of ‘imaginative’ literature broadened the directions of natural philosophical pursuit and created new intellectual possibilities. This multi-disciplinary workshop teases out some of these complex threads, reflecting further on the place of imaginative literature within early modern natural philosophy. 

Speakers and papers 

Debapriya Sarkar (University of Connecticut): The Romance of Scientific Method 

Liza Blake (University of Toronto): Magnetic Physics and Theatrical Psychology: William Gilbert and Ben Jonson's Magnetic Lady 

Kathryn Murphy (University of Oxford): The Edge of the Self at the Limit of the World: Nathaniel Fairfax’s Thought Experiments 

This free event is organised by Cassie Gorman (Anglia Ruskin University), one of the Directors of Scientiae. To register, please email Cassie at cassie.gorman@aru.ac.uk and you will receive a link to join the workshop on Zoom. Please do not share this link. Note that we will be recording the workshop in its 90-minute duration. You can find details of past events in the series here: www.scientiae.co.uk/online-events/.

The Journal of Literature and Science http://www.literatureandscience.org is once again looking for reviewers to review various articles published in the last year to 18 months in the field of literature and science.  

Please find below a number of articles that we would like to offer for review. Its largely first come, first served, so do get in touch with an offer to review a specific article by emailing Michelle at m.geric@westminster.ac.uk 

I would also be very happy to receive suggestions for other relevant articles for review that aren’t listed below – please do let me know.  

Reviews should be 750 words long. For more details please follow the link: http://www.literatureandscience.org or contact me at m.geric@westminster.ac.uk to register your interest. 


John Rogers. “Newton's Arian Epistemology and the Cosmogony of Paradise Lost.” ELH 86. 1 (2019): 77-106.  

Brent Dawson. “The Life of the Mind: George Herbert, Early Modern Meditation, and Materialist Cognition.” ELH 86. 4 (2019): 895-918.  

Alexandra Paterson. “Tracing the Earth: Narratives of Personal and Geological History in Charlotte Smith’s Beachy Head.” Romanticism 25. 1 (2019): 22-31.  

Brandon C. Yes. “Poetry and Science: William Wordsworth and his Irish Friends William Rowan Hamilton and Francis Beaufort Edgeworth, c. 1829.” Romanticism 26. 1 (2020): 89-101. 

Russell Smith. “Frankenstein in the Automatic Factory.” Nineteenth-Century Contexts 41. 3 (2019): 303-319.   

Christie Leigh Harner. “Animal and Social Ecologies in Anne Brontë’s Agnes Grey.” Victorian Literature and Culture 48. 3 (2020): 577-599.    

Sara Lyons. “Thomas Hardy and the Value of Brains.” Victorian Literature and Culture, 48. 2 (2020): 327-359. 

Devin M Garofalo. “Victorian Lyric in the Anthropocene.” Victorian Literature and Culture 47. 4 (2019): 753–783. 

Richard Fallon. “Arthur Conan Doyle's The Lost World: Illustrating the Romance of Science.” English Literature in Transition 1880-1920, 63. 2 (2020): 162-192 

Mary Bowden. “H. G. Wells's Plant Plot: Horticulture and Ecological Narration in The Time Machine.” Victorian Literature and Culture 47. 3 (2019): 603–628.   

Ida Marie Olsen. "Outlines of Ecological Consciousness in W. H. Hudson's Environmentalism." English Literature in Transition, 1880-1920 63. 2 (2020): 193-210.  

Brandon Jones. “Bloom/Split/Dissolve: Jellyfish, H. D., and Multispecies Justice in Anthropocene Seas.” Configurations 27. 4 (2019): 483-499.  

Elspeth Green. “I. A. Richards Among the Scientists.” ELH, 86. 3 (2019): 751-777.  

Nikolai Krementsov. “Thought Transfer and Mind Control between Science and Fiction: Fedor Il’in’s The Valley of New Life (1928).” Osiris 34 (2019): 36-54.  

Amanda Rees. “From Technician’s Extravaganza to Logical Fantasy: Science and Society in John Wyndham’s Postwar Fiction, 1951–1960.” Osiris 34 (2019): 277-296.  

Lisa Garforth. “Environmental Futures, Now and Then: Crisis, Systems Modeling, and Speculative Fiction.” Osiris, 34 (2019): 238-257.  

Ursula K. Heise. “Science Fiction and the Time Scales of the Anthropocene.” ELH 86. 2 (2019): 275-304.  

Nathaniel Otjen. “Energy Anxiety and Fossil Fuel Modernity in H.G. Wells's The War of the Worlds.” Journal of Modern Literature 43. 2 (2020): 118-133. 

Erika Lorraine Milam. “Old Woman and the Sea: Evolution and the Feminine Aquatic.” Osiris 34 (2019): 198-215.  

Paola Villa. “Mollusk-Writers: Spacetime Revolutions in a Literary Shell.” Journal of Modern Literature 43. 2 (2020): 21-40.  

Peter Balbert. “From Relativity to Paraphrenia in D.H. Lawrence's ‘The Man Who Loved Islands’: Speculations on Einstein, Freud, Gossamer Webs, and Seagulls.” Journal of Modern Literature 43. 2 (2020): 60-79.  

Colin Milburn. “Ahead of Time: Gerald Feinberg and the Governance of Futurity.” Osiris 34 (2019): 216-237.  

Susan McHugh. “Mourning Humans and Other Animals through Fictional Taxidermy Collections.” Configurations 27. 2 (2019): 239-256.