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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
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?
- 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.
Please send an abstract (200 words) and short biographical note (50 words) to Katherine Ebury and Helena Ifill at firstname.lastname@example.org 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).
Queen's University, Belfast
15-17 September 2020
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.
- 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
The Beastly Modernisms conference at Glasgow University (12-13 September 2019) was part-funded by a BSLS small grant. Maria Sledmere reports on the discussions which took place. Want to apply for a BSLS small grant? Click here!
A BEASTLY WELCOME
‘I want to think about what it means to give a beastly welcome,’ Peter Adkins begins, introducing our first key note, Derek Ryan (University of Kent). Giving a beastly welcome, it turns out, is an ethical approach to scholarship that holds openness, scepticism, humour and questioning. It involves prising open the jaws of one discipline to let the planktonic matters of others drift through, nourishing and encouraging richer conversations. It is something, maybe, that ‘just happens’ when you bring a certain number of enthusiastic, cutting-edge scholars together for two days, forming something like a zoology of fugitive, moving thought.
Beastly Modernisms 2019, a conference held at the University of Glasgow on 12-13 September, aimed for this symbiotic approach to literary studies. Organised by PhD candidates whose work traverses the realms of animal studies, modernism and the environmental humanities — Peter Adkins (University of Kent), Saskia McCracken (University of Glasgow), Maria Sledmere (University of Glasgow) and Caitlin Stobie (University of Leeds) — the event quickly grew from a planned symposium to international conference, with guest speakers flying in from Paris, America, Poland, Russia and beyond. Such is the appetite for a more beastly scholarship, whose commodious bounds proliferate in animate metaphors, puns and sightlines of future critical thought.
ANIMALS AND MODERNISM IN GLASGOW
Recent work on animals, animacies and modernism includes books by Carrie Rohman, Caroline Hovanec, Dererk Ryan, Roni Grén, Kari Weil and Mel Y. Chen. No conference to date has centred on animal studies and modernism, and Glasgow felt like an ideal location for bringing a twist of the avant-garde, of creative-critical openness, to the traditional conference setting. Not only are the Scottish Network of Modernist Studies (SNoMS) and the British Animal Studies Network (BASN) based in Glasgow, but the city is also home to a vibrant, ecology-focused arts scene — from the Sculpture & Environmental Art BA at the Glasgow School of Art to A+E Collective and the Glasgow Animal Studies Reading Group.
A MENAGERIE OF PERSPECTIVES
The conference came together from a shared feeling that ‘the animal question’ was at a critical point within modernist scholarship, and that it deserved a platform of its own. With funding secured from The British Society for Literature and Science, The Vegan Society, British Comparative Literature Association, and the University of Glasgow’s College of Arts, we were able to explore what this question of modernism’s ‘beasts’ might entail.
We were delighted that delegates and speakers responded so readily to the spirit of the theme. There were panels on Bugs and Beasties, Modernist Empathies, Waste and Trash Animals, Surreal Creatures, Joycean Beasts, Animal Ethics and Marine Life — to name a few. Papers were given on myriad themes of a spirited, beastly nature: the multiple ‘lives’ of nature documentary (Amy Cutler), modernism’s telluric depths (Cathryn Setz), cosmic cats (Molly Gilroy), animal artists (Kirsten Strom), the queer and comic nonhuman (Maureen O’Connor) and modernist jellyfish (Rachel Murray). Throughout the conference, our speakers challenged us to think of modernism not just in archival or literary-historical terms but also as a mobilising set of cultural and critical tendencies, with unique questions to ask continuously of language, ontology and coexistence.
It was especially heartening to see a mix of creative, critical and multidisciplinary approaches to academic conference papers. We had practicing artists, photographers and filmmakers in attendance, sharing their work but also engaging in vital ethical and aesthetic discussion around the context of that work’s production and reception, in tandem with animals, humans and the more-than-human. Martin Pover, for instance, gave a talk on photographing zoos as ‘theatres of the wild,’ and Rosie Roberts, a recent graduate of the inaugural Masters in Art Writing programme at the Glasgow School of Art, screened her film Pan and took part in a lively Q&A which saw rich reflections on reparative filmmaking, precarity, the ‘choral I', the importance of play and the significance of ‘the everyday’ in questions of ecology and what we might call (in resistance to the human-animal distinction) beastly intimacies.
A crucial part of the conference was the Beastly Poetry night, hosted (quite appropriately) at the Butterfly and Pig bar in Glasgow. The audience formed a mix of conference delegates, friends, family and familiar faces from the city’s wide-ranging literary scene. Our readers, some of whom were invited and others who applied as part of our ‘open mic’ part of the evening, were: Jelle Cauwenberghs, Alexandra Grunberg, Eva Isherwood-Wallace, Miranda Cichy, Jane Hartshorn, Daisy Lafarge, Callie Gardner, Jane Goldman, and Colin Herd. The packed-out room was testament to the Glasgow poetry scene but also an indication that modernism and its beastly entrails is alive and well ‘in the present’: a question of constant reinvention, playful citation, diverse registers and formal experiment. From Cichy’s poetry of avian extinction to Hartshorn’s mythic, visceral femininity, Goldman’s biting, canine aesthetics to Lafarge’s wasps, stinging ‘with pagan abandon,’ and Herd’s anthropomorphised and tenderly-loved ‘Laplaplaplaplaplaplap Top’, the poets challenged what might be a beast and what might be modern, and how we can begin to address that in the question of lyric relationality and speech itself.
We were extremely lucky to have two keynotes whose work has been essential to the emergence and development of our field, hive, habitat, tropics or indeed ocean of study (there was indeed a distinctly transatlantic, borderless and porous flavour to many of the talks). Derek Ryan concluded day one with ‘Beastly Bloomsbury’ which argued that the animal turn in modernist studies ‘demands new readings of the most familiar modernist texts’, becoming close readers of the metaphors that structure animality, hierarchy and difference, noticing aspects of ‘the animal’ which elude human understanding. Kicking off day two, keynote Kari Weil (Wesleyan University) gave a vivid talk on animal magnetism: ‘the force that one animal body can have one another’. By moving through recent art (Berlinde de Bruyckere), French feminist philosophy and ideas from poststructuralism, Weil’s talk questioned the boundaries, entanglements and representations at stake in animal relationality. She considered the force of spectatorship, of contact and touch, memory, narrative and trauma, as well as the alien qualities within language itself that rub against our animal being.
One recurring theme throughout the conference was that of ‘mastery’. Following Sarah Wood in her book Without Mastery: Reading and Other Forces (2014), we ask what would a textuality or poetics without mastery look like? The papers of Beastly Modernism 2019 go some way to answering this question, or at the very least opening it up. Perhaps to be a beastly modernist requires something of a surrender of sovereignty, a recognition of the animal within ourselves (sated, happily, by the university’s delicious vegan catering and the hospitality of the Centre for Contemporary Arts, where our dinner was held on Friday) and an embrace of mobility, curiosity, fluctuation within thought, a shifting, plural, contaminated ‘I’ that bears its beastly echoes. To listen, share and challenge our familiar critical habitus.
Some delegates had the pleasure of a tour around the Hunterian’s Special Collections, facilitated by zoology curator Maggie Reilly. And so the conference began with this notion of the gaze and the touch: of what it means to look at what is held and preserved, to think through archivisation and curation within the critical force of our own work. It was clear to us that many exciting conversations were happening throughout the breaks and Q&A sessions, and delegates commented positively on the approachability of our speakers. We hope, then, that this might be something of what a ‘beastly welcome’ entails, and who knows what tracks, turns and paths of flight might happen next…