CfP SLSAeu 2023: Models, Metaphors and Simulations.

Epistemic Transformations in Literature, Science and the Arts

Extended Deadline for Abstract Submissions

Conference of SLSAeu

European Society for Literature, Science and the Arts and ELINAS Research Center for Literature and Natural Science

May 18 – 21, 2023

Friedrich-Alexander-University Erlangen-Nürnberg

The SLSAeu Conference 2023 is centered on modes of exchange between discourses and practices of knowledge production, re-presentation and simulation which lead to epistemic transformations in science, literature and arts.

Metaphors, models and simulations are epistemic tools for physics, astronomy, climatology, earth system sciences, chemistry, biology, life sciences, medicine and robotics. Model-based reasoning is employed in social sciences, cognitive sciences, computer sciences, archaeology and architecture. While the usual categories for doing scientific research are experiments, theories and their falsifications, which are mainly based on technical equipment and mathematical formalism, recent approaches investigate how models and simulations are embedded in cultural processes, and ask how they are formed or epistemically transformed as parts of material cultures. Moreover, they ask how metaphors, models and simulations receive a certain epistemic agency and autonomy due to their artefactual (Knuutilla), mediation (Morgan/Morrison) and exemplification functions (Goodman/Elgin). Philosophy of science goes so far as to ask about the epistemic functions of fiction in the process of scientific modelling and simulation, and draws parallels between scientific models and fictive characters, objects, or places of literary fiction (Frigg, Nguyen).

The conference is meant to be a platform for this interdisciplinary exchange on epistemic cultures of modelling (Gelfert): How can we explore epistemic relations between models, fiction and simulations? How can we think of literary practices and modelling strategies as specific modes of epistemic inquiry? How can we gain new knowledge through the epistemic use of imagination (Badura/Kind) in literature, the arts and science? What is the epistemic function of aesthetics in scientific modelling practices? What interpretational problems arise due to crossdisciplinary approaches and different textual, diagrammatical, algorithmical and encoding practices?

We invite participants to outline the historical, cultural, and rhetorical formation and transformation of model-based knowledge (Magnani/Bertolotti) at the intersections between science, literature and the arts. We hope for interesting encounters between different communities: the philosophy of science investigates the relationships between models, simulations and theories of fiction as make- believe (Walton, Toon) as well as the artefactual and non-representational dimensions of models (Knuuttila). Cultural semiotics conceptualizes literature and the arts as secondary modelling systems (Lotman), the philosophy of mind explores epistemic uses of imagination (Amy Kind), the philosophy of art investigates ‚exemplification‘ as an epistemic practice in art and science (Goodman, Elgin). Narratology investigates narrative factuality and experientiality (Fludernik, Ryan) and history of science examines narrative strategies of scientific writing (Brandt,  Schickore). But the question posed by Jay Labinger still remains: Where are the scientists in literature and science studies?

The conference seeks to establish and facilitate a dialogue between literary and cultural studies and various interdisciplinary science communities, history of science, philosophy of science, and science and technology studies. We invite papers as well as panels dealing with the epistemological functions of metaphors, models and simulations in literature, the arts, sciences, virtual realities, digital humanities, informatics, brain and cognitive sciences, climate sciences, earth system sciences, life sciences, astronomy, astrophyics. Questions could arise on the epistemic functions of models as mediators between arts and sciences, on the world building functions of models and literary texts, on the artefactual nature of models and simulations, on the epistemic function of aesthetics in modelling and simulation practices, on literary, artistic and scientific imagination in the process of modelling (Thorne), on the epistemic tools of representation – pictorial, mathematical, linguistic, algorithmic, 3-D —  on non-representational accounts of modelling, on the process of epistemic transformation from metaphors to models and simulations, and on the cultural materiality of models and simulations.


Please send 400-word abstracts by the 20th of February 2023 to Aura Heydenreich ( Please include “SLSAeu23” in the email subject line and a brief bio/bibliography, as well as an e-mail address and a postal address. Formats include paper presentations (20-25 minutes), interdisciplinary panels (including participants from three disciplins and a moderator), art events (multimedia, AV format). SLSAeu and ELINAS are committed to supporting young talents to present their work. We invite MA and PhD students to submit their paper. Proposals for interdisciplinary roundtables spanning science/technology, literature, humanities or social sciences, and the arts are especially welcome.

Venue of the Conference

The main venue of the Conference will be the „Kollegienhaus“ and the „Orangerie“ of the Friedrich-Alexander-University (Universitätsstraße 15, 91054 Erlangen) which are located directly at the Erlangen Schlossgarten. The main train station and the University Library are just a stone’s throw away.


Room contingents in different hotels will be pre-reserved for conference participants. Please make your reservation as soon as possible as available rooms are limited.

For further information visit:

Key Dates:

Abstracts due:                                             20 February 2023

Decisions + Program:                                   1 March 2023

Registration:                                                 1 April 2023

Conference:                                                  18-21 May 2023


PD Dr. Aura Heydenreich

German and Comparative Literature

Research Fellow, ELINAS

Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg

President of the European Society for Literature, Science and the Arts

Prof. Dr. Klaus Mecke

Institute of Theoretical Physics