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Leuven, May 18-19 2020

First keynote speaker: Prof. Angelique Richardson (University of Exeter).
Second keynote speaker to be announced later.

During the late 19th and early 20th century evolutionary theory and new insights in heredity were becoming increasingly influential in social debates. Theories of Darwin, Spencer, Lamarck and Mendel were used to address anxieties about degeneration across Europe. Eugenicists sought to improve both the individual and the nation by influencing processes of procreation and selection so as to bring about the ‘ideal’ human race. Literary authors too raised their voices in this widespread concern with private and public health, the body and the future of the race. They addressed these concerns in highbrow modernist writings, social stories, courtship plots, family sagas, bildungsroman or art novels and used eugenic discourse and biological theories in doing so. The result is, of course, not a homogeneous body of eugenic literature. To the contrary, eugenic and genetic theories were deployed, commented on and disseminated in a variety of ways. Male and female authors used eugenic theories to take radically different stances within the woman question, but women writers too were often divided as to how eugenic insights could best be used for feminist purposes.

This conference aims at a better understanding of the different ways in which eugenic theories were used to address questions related to gender and sexuality in European literature from 1880 to 1935. Eugenic theories circulated across Europe, but the reception and response by literary writers was often very different. Similarly, the woman question that emerged at the end of the 19th century, was debated in different ways in different European countries and this also shaped literature’s intervention in these debates. By bringing together these different perspectives, the conference hopes to achieve a more nuanced and comprehensive picture of the intersections between eugenics and literature around the turn of the 20th century.

We invite papers about all European literary traditions that address such questions as the following:

  • How is the new biological and genetic knowledge presented and mediated in literary texts?
  • How is the discourse of eugenics deployed in literary texts?
  • How are eugenic theories used to serve the emancipation of women in society or, conversely, how are they used to argue for traditional gendered divisions and roles?
  • How did evolution and eugenics shape feminist ideas in literature?
  • How did the use of eugenic theories change across the period?

Topics might include (but are not limited to)

  • Debates on motherhood, reproductive health, pregnancy, breast feeding, birth control, family planning and abortion
  • Representations of illness, feeblemindedness, degeneracy and insanity
  • Atavism, Hereditary diseases, family health and genetics
  • Evolution and sexual difference
  • Biological essentialism
  • Representations of women doctors and nurses
  • Depictions of female ancestry and lines of heredity
  • Degenerate masculinity and ‘fit’ manhood
  • Eugenic partner choice

This symposium is organized in the context of a large comparative research project, Literary Knowledge, 1890-1950: Modernisms and the Sciences in Europe , by the research lab MDRN at the University of Leuven in Belgium. Please send an abstract (350 words) and a short bio to Fatima Borrmann (fatima.borrmann@kuleuven.be) by 31 January 2020. The presentation of papers should not exceed 20 minutes.

Full AHRC Collaborative Doctoral Award funding for a new PhD project on eugenics, class and racism in Britain - Eugenics at the Royal Society 1860-1950 - in collaboration with the Royal Society. The PhD studentship will start in September 2020. Applicants will usually have a first degree and an MA or other professional experience. 
 
More details can be found here: https://www.sww-ahdtp.ac.uk/prospective-students/collaborative-doctoral-awards/ and application guidance can be found here: https://www.sww-ahdtp.ac.uk/prospective-students/apply/.  The deadline is Monday 27th January.  Anyone wanting to hear more about the project would be most welcome to contact Professors Angelique Richardson A.Richardson@exeter.ac.uk or David Stack d.a.stack@reading.ac.uk.

We have been asked to circulate the CFP for the 2020 ESCL/SELC Conference, to be held on 24-27 November at the University of Torino. The conference website is here!

In view of the recent university strikes in Britain, the BSLS and the conference organisers have made the decision to extend the CFP deadline for our annual conference. The new deadline is the 19th of this month! Full details of the conference, which will take place at Sheffield next year, can be found here.

The BSLS, its members, and the work they produce all suffer in various ways as a result of the casualisation, marketisation, and workload pressures against which the strike was set. If you would like to read more about the dispute, one place to start is here.

27 January 2020, Council Room, Trent Building, University of Nottingham

Emailnightingale2020@nottingham.ac.uk

Websitehttps://www.nottingham.ac.uk/Conference/fac-arts/Humanities/History/The-Home-in-History/index.aspx.aspx

Keynote speaker: Professor Jane Hamlett, Royal Holloway

CFP deadline: 22 November 2019

The University of Nottingham's AHRC-funded project 'Florence Nightingale Comes Home for 2020' (see www.florencenightingale.org) is arranging the second of a series of three thematic project workshops. Following the first successful event on nineteenth-century healthcare, this second workshop seeks to examine, from multiple disciplinary perspectives, the broad theme of 'Home' and its applicability as a prism through which to understand historical change.

'Home' is an elusive notion, lacking a permanent definition; it is a concept that is manifested through specific places and at specific times yet also transcends these. Edwin Heathcote, in The Meaning of Home (2012), wrote that homes are 'receptacles of both personal and collective memory, containers of meaning and symbol'. The history of the home unavoidably overlaps with histories of gender, work and architecture, geographies of mobility, and cultural and literary readings of concepts such as domesticity, the family, and privacy. In recent decades, these concepts have become fundamental to readings of modern social history, not least in the nineteenth century. For example, scholars use domesticity as a prism through which to investigate the history of public buildings, institutions and public spaces, alongside the Foucauldian paradigm of power and control. 

The case of Florence Nightingale demonstrates the richness and elasticity of the term ‘home’. Home for Nightingale meant variously a childhood sanctuary, a prison constraining women's energy, the object of sanitary reform, a communal place for nurses to live and study, a spiritual refuge, and the place one went to after death. These ideas will be explored in the forthcoming book Florence Nightingale At Home, to be published by Palgrave Macmillan in 2020.

While the team's focus is on nineteenth-century Britain, the workshop welcomes contributions from a range of periods and locations. Papers are invited from specialists in history, literature, geography, architecture, material culture, or other scholars with new/distinctive perspectives on the history and culture of the home.

Contributors are invited to address the following questions:

  • What has been the historical relationship between (ideas of) home and the built environment? How do changing uses of space, furniture and decoration reflect ideological/cultural/historical patterns?
  • What tensions can be observed between ideologies of domesticity on the one hand, and life in non-family based institutions on the other?
  • What has 'home' meant in such institutions as: hospitals, convents, boarding schools, asylums, military barracks, prisons, factories?
  • How have ideas of 'homeliness' been challenged/modified/subverted at different times?
  • How far is 'home' a useful concept for understanding national, cultural, or ideological histories?
  • How has home been represented and contested in literature and popular culture? To what extent have these depictions of home influenced other forms of discourse, for example health discourse?

Practical details

- An abstract of no more than 300 words along with a short (1-2 page) CV should be sent to Richard.Bates1@nottingham.ac.uk or nightingale2020@nottingham.ac.uk by Friday 22 November 2019.

- The workshop is fully funded as part of the AHRC Research Grant-funded project ‘Florence Nightingale Comes Home for 2020: an historico-literary analysis of her family life’, grant ref AH/R00014X/1. (www.florencenightingale.org)

- There will be no charge for attendance.

- Applications from PhD students and early career researchers are welcomed.

- A limited number of travel bursaries are available for travel within the UK. To apply, please include an estimate of your travel costs in your email application.

Agustí Nieto-Galan, Professor of History of Science at Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, sends word of a new call for participation in an edited volume on Flammarion in Latin America. The full call - in Spanish - is here.

The full programme for this year's Extinctions and Rebellions symposium - to take place on Nov 16th 2019 at the University of Liverpool - can now be downloaded here!

If you'd like to attend, tickets are still available. They are free, but you need to sign up at this link.

More details about our annual symposium can be found on this page.

Tuesday 29 October, 7-8.30pm
The Royal Institution, 21 Albemarle Street, London W1S 4BS

In autumn 1933, Albert Einstein found himself living alone in an isolated holiday hut in rural England. There, he toiled peacefully at mathematics while occasionally stepping out for walks or to play his violin. But how had Einstein come to abandon his Berlin home and go ‘"on the run"? Andrew Robinson tells the story of the world’s greatest scientist and Britain for the first time, showing why Britain was the perfect refuge for Einstein from rumoured assassination by Nazi agents.

For tickets (£7-16) and more info, please click here.

The fifteenth annual conference of the British Society for Literature and Science will be held at the University of Sheffield from Wednesday 15 April until Friday 17 April 2020.

Keynote speakers will be Dame Jocelyn Bell Burnell (Oxford), Professor Martin Willis (Cardiff), and Professor Angela Wright (Sheffield).

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.

The conference will include a visit to the Alfred Denny Zoological Museum (pictured), and the Turner Museum of Glass will host a keynote lecture and the wine reception.

Please send an abstract (200 words) and short biographical note (50 words) to Katherine Ebury and Helena Ifill at shefbsls2020@gmail.com by no later than 18.00 GMT on Thursday 19th of December 2019 (please note that this is a new deadline, extended in view of the recent university strikes in Britain). Please include the abstract and biographical note in the body of the email.

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 registration fees 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).

CFP: Randomness

Queen's University, Belfast
15-17 September 2020

Keywords
Accidental, arbitrary, incidental, slapdash, hit-or-miss, unplanned, unintended (e.g. consequences), unexpected, unanticipated, unpredictable, contingent, volatility, excitement, wonder, fantasy, imagination, creativity, serendipity.

Chance encounters, unforeseen opportunities, and impulsive decisions play a bigger role in our life and work than we wish to acknowledge. Is reading not always random to some extent? It is only retrospectively, in shifting scale from the individual to social or perspective from reading to interpreting, that randomness becomes regularity and can get explained away as purpose and design.

Randomness and chance play a leading role in historical accounts, in narratives of war and battles, victory and defeat, in biographies and travelogues, in narratives of arrivals, encounters and departures. They resurface in stories, setting characters onto a course or hurtling them into the great unknown, towards their fate. People’s bookshelves, readers’ memories, and second-hand bookshops can produce a similar, puzzling – even dizzying – sense of randomness.
 
Fortunes of literary works and theory are not immune to the dictates of chance. What are the forces that get literary works published, translated, circulated locally or internationally, and nominated for and winning literary prizes? When do managed search algorithms fail and serendipitous connections appear? How do chance encounters with a literary work, a theory, or lead to translations or adaptations, new creative adventures, or additional and alternative theories?
 
Artists and writers can be more comfortable with randomness than scholars; they break away from the space of the familiar and the already-known and place trust in the process of the work itself. Critics are driven by institutional pressures to present their work as an execution of purpose, design and method. But randomness persists even in grand geo-political schemes. Randomness overcomes censorship and solutions are always found to circulate books without the support of publishers or the state. Randomness happens despitecontrol, and may be the more attractive for it. It is often random finds that are the most treasured with a sense of delight. Random encounters excite imagination and creativity.
 
Randomness is also openness; it stands more often at beginnings and turns of the road of many literary and critical careers. How do we cultivate a sense of wonder and open up our critical discourses and theories of comparative literature and world literature to more inclusive and elastic modes of thinking and writing? Can we use randomness in and outside texts and oeuvresproductively, to our advantage? 
 
We seek panels that will work with the idea of randomness, particularly in relation to:
 
  • Encounters with literary works, theories and cultural others
  • Adaptations, new writings, performances, visualizations within the same literary/cultural field, or outside.
  • Representing randomness through visualisations and digital interfaces.
  • Multilingualism, heterolingualism, plurilingualism, translanguaging
  • Performance, performativity
  • Politics of the literary/cultural market, including publication, translation, circulation, literary prizes and literary festivals (and book fairs)
  • Critiquing randomness in the age of search algorithms
  • Unpredictable futures
  • Ecocritical approaches to randomness and unpredictability
  • Translation and translation studies, choice of work and language, choice of method and style
  • Theories and Methods of Comparative Literature and World Literature
 
Deadlines: 15 November 2019 for Panel proposals and 15 December 2019 for paper proposals.
Submit your proposal to: randomness2020bcla@gmail.com or through the conference website https://randomness2020.wordpress.com/call-for-papers/

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