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Conference, Friday 8 June, Birkbeck, London

Experiment can describe both strict testing and speculative ‘trying out’, both proof and exploration; it can also refer to the process, the object, and the material apparatus of these activities. Experiment can have connotations of system or method, as is often prominent in the scientific context, or uncontrolled rule-breaking.

Literature’s relationship to experiment is similarly complex. David Seed has described Science Fiction as a kind of thought experiment, while Amanda Rees has emphasized not the genre’s plots or themes but its logical consistency, both drawing on the sense of rigour that experiment denotes. Struggling to stitch a chapter together, Laurence Sterne’s narrator Tristram Shandy suggests a less controlled process: ‘one would think I took a pleasure in running into difficulties of this kind, merely to make fresh experiments of getting out of ‘em’. In both of these cases, experiment is not only a process of attentive observation—the ‘empirical’ quality valued by many forms of writing—but a directing imaginative and textual force.

Bruno Latour describes experiment as a fundamentally literary technology, or ‘a text about a nontextual situation, later tested by others to decide whether or not it is simply a text’. This conference seeks to elaborate on the association between text and experiment, by examining experiment’s literary forms in the century leading up to the generic delineation of science fiction. As the practices, institutions, and rhetorics of natural philosophy transform through the long nineteenth century into self-identifying disciplines, what power does the notion of experiment exert? What impact did these reorganizations of knowledge have on the imaginative contours of experiment? How did experimental forms aim to facilitate new thoughts, sensations, ideas? In Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, Victor confesses an enabling moral suspension crucial to the horror genre: ‘During my first experiment, a kind of enthusiastic frenzy had blinded me to the horror of my employment’. Charles Darwin’s On the Origin of Species begins with an experiment as literary as it is scientific, explaining evolution by means of the analogy of variation in domestic pigeons. Emily Dickinson’s creation of a private herbarium resembles her ordered collection of her poems in bound ‘fascicles’, a similarity intimated in the floral illustration of the first edition of her Poems. Other experimental forms might be found in the relationship between abandoned experiments and literary fragments such as Coleridge’s partial ‘Theory of Life’, or in hybrid poetic forms which drew on and manipulated contemporary medical and scientific models of experimental knowledge.

How are we to understand experiment in these texts? This may refer to the techniques and styles of scientific writing, whether its desire to speak transparently or to inspire wonder, but also to the textures of experimental literature, which can draw on experiment’s exploratory nature to cultivate difficulty or confusion. In what sense ought we to think of texts—both scientific and literary—as experimental processes in their own right; not as artefacts that records methods or results, but as technologies that create them?

Speakers include:

former Chair of BSLS, Martin Willis (Cardiff)


Will Abberley (Sussex)

Jeremy Davies (Leeds)

Katherine Ebury (Sheffield)

Timothy Fulford (De Montfort)

Dahlia Porter (Glasgow)

Register via the Eventbrite page

The programme of the conference will be available soon on For more information please contact:

The 2018 Science in Public conference is taking place at Cardiff University on December 17-19th, with the theme of Intersecting Science. The CFP is now open, and more details can also be found on the conference website at

Abstract Submission

We are now accepting abstracts for SiP2018. Abstracts for regular papers should be no more than 250 words. We also welcome proposals for diverse formats of presentation and encourage people to suggest their own panels, practical workshops, roundtables, author-meets-critics events, and other alternative session formats. Please make this clear in your submission.

All abstracts should be submitted by Friday 18th May at 5pm via the submission portal. Click the button to the right to go there now. Some funds may be available to support proposed alternative format sessions. Notification of acceptance is expected to be given by mid-June 2018.


SiP 2018 will be a low-cost conference, with a small number of bursaries available to early career, student or low-income scholars. Delegates will be asked to book their own accommodation (recommendations will be available on the website at


We are committed to ensuring the conference is accessible to everyone. If you have any accessibility needs for attending the conference and/or for presenting, please let us know.

Contact and further Info

Any questions, please contact the SiP team at For more information, you can join our mailing list, follow us on Twitter (@SiP2018), or subscribe for email updates below.

To mark the 35th anniversary of the publication of Professor Dame Gillian Beer’s ground-breaking study of the relations between science and literature, the British Society for Literature and Science is sponsoring an afternoon’s discussion with Gillian Beer, the BSLS President, at the Natural History Museum in Oxford on Saturday April 7th.


Venue: Lecture Theatre, Oxford University Museum of Natural History

Date: Saturday 7th April 2018

Time: 2.30 – 4.30pm


2.30-3.15: Gillian Beer interviewed by John Holmes

3.15-3.25: Short break

3.25-4.25: Roundtable on Literature and Biology chaired by Daniel Brown with Sally Shuttleworth, David Amigoni and Lara Choksey.

4.25-4.30: Concluding Comments from Martin Willis (BSLS Chair)


The event is free, and all welcome. Please sign up via Eventbrite at:



BSLS Executive Committee Positions

Six positions on the BSLS Executive Committee will be either vacant or up for renewal in April: Chair, Treasurer, Membership Secretary, Book Reviews Officer, Member at Large, and Early Career Member at Large. Present incumbents in two of the positions (Treasurer & Early Career Member at Large) are seeking to continue in their roles, but all six posts are open to nominations.

We especially encourage members interested in the four vacating posts: Chair, Membership Secretary, Book Reviews Officer, & Member at Large.

Any member of BSLS is eligible for these posts and can propose themselves or someone else. Each proposed candidate will also need two nominations from members of BSLS, and these proposals and nominations should be sent to the Chair Martin Willis ( and myself, the Secretary ( Expressions of interest and proposals should be received by 23rd March at the very latest.

If you have questions about these posts, please do contact me, or any member of the committee. The sections of the Constitution relevant to this process are appended below.

Greg Lynall, Secretary

24 January 2018



4.5 The membership of the Executive Committee shall be determined by elections held at the annual general meeting of the society. Members wishing to stand for election should be nominated by two members of the society before the start of the AGM. Where there is more than one candidate for any post, election shall be held by a ballot on the basis of a single transferable vote.
4.6 Members of the Executive Committee shall serve three-year terms of office.

(Subject to Budgetary Approval)

The Department of English Literatures at Mount Allison University invites applications for a twelve-month position as the McCain Postdoctoral Fellow in Romantic & Regency Literature, with additional expertise in literature and the environment, eco-criticism, eco-poetics, or a related field. Candidates are required to have a PhD in English Literature and demonstrated expertise in Romantic & Regency Literature, and literature and the environment.  As this is a Teaching Fellowship, the ability to teach undergraduate courses in both these areas is an important asset.  The successful candidate will be asked to teach four 3-credit (one-term) courses in ENGL 2301: Literary Periods, 1800-present; ENGL 3451: Literature in the Age of Romanticism; ENGL 3461: Literature of the Regency; and ENGL 3951: Literature and the Natural World.

Mount Allison University, located in Sackville, New Brunswick, Canada is a small, primarily undergraduate university offering small classes and a residential experience to a diverse student population. It is consistently ranked as one of the best undergraduate universities in Canada and promotes research and teaching excellence.

The appointment will be made at the rank of Lecturer and will commence July 2018.  Candidates should prepare a letter of application, a complete curriculum vitae, a brief statement of teaching philosophy, and the names of three references. Applicants should arrange for the three confidential letters of support to be sent directly to the Search Committee.

All materials should be sent in electronic format to:

Chair of the Search Committee (McCain Postdoc),
Department of English Literatures,
Mount Allison University
62 York St., Sackville, NB, E4L 1E2

The closing date for receipt of applications is March 10, 2018, or when the position is filled.  Candidates are responsible for ensuring that all applications materials, including letters of reference, reach the Department in time.

Mount Allison acknowledges, honours and respects the Mi’kmaw and Wolastoquyik (Maliseet) peoples, the historic inhabitants, custodians, and dwellers on the land where our university is built, and confirms its commitment to strengthen relationships with them. Mount Allison is committed to diversity and inclusiveness. We encourage applications from members of racialized communities, Indigenous persons, persons with disabilities, and persons of all sexual and gender identities. We seek candidates with qualifications and knowledge to contribute specifically to the further diversification of our campus community.

All qualified candidates are encouraged to apply; however, Canadian citizens and permanent residents are given priority. Canadians and permanent residents should indicate their citizenship status in their application



Assistant Professor in Science, Culture, and Writing

Department of English Language and Literature

 The Department of English Language and Literature in the Faculty of Arts at the University of Waterloo invites applications for a probationary position in Science, Culture, and Writing at the rank of Assistant Professor, with a preferred start date of July 1, 2018. The successful candidate will have an established program of research in one of the following areas: ecocriticism; literature and the environment; science fiction studies; disability studies; literature of science; history of science; medical humanities; history of health and medicine; or an area of literary study relevant to the communication of science. A secondary area of research in writing, systems of knowledge production, new modes of publication, or other literary or rhetorical subfield, will be considered an asset. The Department promotes an integrated research culture, combining expertise in the fields of literary study, rhetorical study, and digital media.

For further information on this and other posts with a literature and science element visit:


The thirteenth annual conference of the British Society of Literature & Science will take place at Oxford Brookes University, from Thursday 5 April until Saturday 7 April 2018.

Keynote talks will be given by Professor Kirsten Shepherd-Barr (University of Oxford), Professor Alex Goody (Oxford Brookes University).

The BSLS invites proposals for 20-minute papers, panels of three papers or special roundtables on any subjects within the field of science, and literatures in the broadest sense, including theatre, performance, film and television. There is no special theme for this conference but abstracts or panels exploring Frankenstein in its bicentenary year are especially welcome as are those in the contemporary period, theatre and performance.

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. Our hope is that the latter format will encourage longer Q&A sessions with more discussion. If you have a topic or research area which would suit such a discussion, we would also like to hear from you.

Please send an abstract (c.200-250 words) and short biographical note to the conference organiser, Dr. Carina Bartleet,, by no later than 5pm GMT, Friday 8 December 2017. Please include the abstract and biographical note in the body of the email and not in an attachment. All proposers of a paper or panel will receive notification of the results by the end of January 2018.

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.

Please note that those attending the conference will need to make their own arrangements for accommodation. Information on local hotels will be made available soon.

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

Assistant review editors are wanted to join an expanded reviews team for BSLS Reviews, the reviews section of the British Society for Literature and Science website, <> We aim at comprehensive coverage of the literature and science field, and related areas, with reviews published within ten months of book publication date, and updates on at least a monthly basis. Last year we published over sixty reviews, and in the current year we are on track for over a hundred. Assistant review editors will monitor the output of major academic publishers, and superintend the commissioning process from beginning to end. Applications should include academic background, together with a sample of your own writing, and should be sent by 5.00pm on 15th December 2017 to the BSLS Book Reviews Editor, Dr Gavin Budge on <>.​


Cognitive Futures in the Arts and Humanities 2018
University of Kent, 1-4 July

Keynote Speakers
Maaike Bleeker, Utrecht University
Margrethe Bruun Vaage, University of Kent
Eric Clarke, Oxford University
Amy Cook, Stony Brook University

Organisers: Melissa Trimingham and Nicola Shaughnessy, in association with the Centre for Cognition, Kinaesthetics and Performance.

Call for Papers

Building on the conferences associated with the network Cognitive Futures in the Humanities in Bangor (2013), Durham (2014) and Oxford (2015), Helsinki (2016) and Stony Brook (2017) the 2018 conference aims once again to bring together a wide array of papers from the cognitive sciences, philosophy, literary studies, linguistics, cultural studies, critical theory, film, performance, theatre and dance studies, the visual and sonic arts, musicology and beyond. In accordance with the original purpose of the network, the aims of the conference are:

-to evolve new knowledge and practices for the analysis of culture and cultural objects, through engagement with the cognitive sciences;

-to assess how concepts from the cognitive sciences can in turn be approached using the analytical tools of humanities enquiry (historical, theoretical, contextual);

-to contest the nature/culture opposition whose legacy can be identified with the traditional and ongoing segregation of scientific and aesthetic knowledge.

Topics relevant to the conference include (but are not limited to):
Cognitive neuroscience and the arts       Interdisciplinary methodologies
Cognitive poetics                      Theory of mind
Conceptual blending                Cognition and narrative
Spectatorship and participation         Empirical aesthetics
The 4 Es                            The science of creativity
The social mind                 Material culture

Submission details
Please send 250-word proposals to by 5 January 2018. As well as 20-minute papers, we welcome contributions in a variety of formats, for example workshops, performance presentations, and posters. Abstracts should be included as Word file attachments. Please indicate clearly in your email whether your abstract is to be considered for a paper or as part of a panel, including the name of presenter(s), institutional affiliation(s) and email address(es). Proposers can expect to hear if their abstract has been accepted by 1 February 2018, and registration will open soon afterward.

Organising committee
Shaun May, Nicola Shaughnessy, Melissa Trimingham, Freya Vass-Rhee

Cognitive Futures in the Arts and Humanities Steering Group
Amy Cook (Stony Brook University)
Karin Kukkonen (University of Oslo)
Peter Garratt (Durham University)
John Lutterbie (Stony Brook University)
Ben Morgan (University of Oxford)
Sowon Park (University of California, Santa Barbara)
Merja Polvinen (University of Helsinki)
Nicola Shaughnessy (University of Kent)

Dr Emily Alder (Napier University) is in the process of putting together two panels for BSLS 2018 and invites proposals for either of the following topics:
1. Gothic and science (fairly broadly, to promote BSLS/ International Gothic Association links - if you are like me both a BSLS and IGA member it would be particularly good to hear from you!)
2. Frankenstein and science (with one eye on the bicentenary)
If you are interested in joining either panel, please get in touch with Emily by 1st December at

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