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The ninth annual conference of the British Society for Literature and Science will take place at the University of Surrey, Guildford, on 10-12 April 2014. Keynote speakers will include Professor Bernard Lightman (York University, Toronto) and Professor Mary Orr (University of Southampton). The conference will finish with an opportunity to visit Down House, the home of Charles Darwin, on the afternoon of Saturday 12 April.

The BSLS invites proposals for twenty-minute papers, or panels of three papers, on any subjects within the field of literature and science. This year the organisers would particularly welcome proposals addressing links between science and European and world literatures, and proposals for papers or panels on teaching literature and science. However, the BSLS remains committed to supporting and showcasing work on all aspects of literature and science.

Proposals of no more than 250 words, together with the name and institutional affiliation of the speaker, should be sent in the body of messages (not in attachments) to Gregory Tate ( Proposals for panels should include a separate proposal for each paper. The closing date for submissions is Friday 6 December 2013.

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.

Accommodation: please note that those attending the conference will need to make their own arrangements for accommodation. Information on local hotels will shortly be made available on the conference website.

Membership: conference delegates will need to register as members of the BSLS (annual membership: £25 waged / £10 unwaged). It will be possible to join the BSLS when registering for the conference online.

For further information and updates about the conference, please contact Gregory Tate ( or visit the conference website at

We are delighted to announce that the next BSLS conference will take place at the University of Surrey in Guildford on 10-12 April 2014. The call for papers will be posted with more details at the beginning of September.

‘Discovering John Lubbock’

Saturday 1st June 2013, 11am — 1pm, Bromley Museum

‘Discovering John Lubbock’ is a unique event at Bromley museum marking the centenary of Sir John Lubbock, 1st Lord Avebury. Marie Louise Kerr will be in conversation with Lyulph Lubbock, the great grandson of John Lubbock and Dr. Janet Owen, author of Darwin’s Apprentice: an Archaeological Biography of John Lubbock (2013).

Come along to find our more about Lubbock's life and archaeological work from experts in the field, raise a glass in remembrance to toast his achievements, and visit the special centenary exhibition of his collections. Signed copies of Darwin's Apprentice will be available for purchase.

Discovering John Lubbock poster June 2013

The next BSLS conference will be taking place in Cardiff by Cardiff University and the University of Westminster from Thursday 11th to Saturday 13th April. You can download a registration form and provisional programme here. For more details, including advice on travel and accommodation, please visit the conference website hosted by Cardiff University.

BSLS Conference 2013 Registration Form

BSLS 2013 Conference Panels

The following lectures in our Autumn 2012 programme may be of interest to BSLS members:

Friday 28 September, 1pm

Prof. Sharon Ruston

Natural History and the Rights of Woman

During the two-year period of the composition and publication of her Vindication of the Rights of Woman (1792), Mary Wollstonecraft, the mother of Mary Shelley and early advocate of women’s rights, read and reviewed a number of important works of natural history for a periodical called the Analytical Review. Wollstonecraft is not known for her interest in science but in this talk I show that reading these texts helped her to formulate her feminist theory. Close attention to her reviews of natural history reveal her developing thought on issues of equality, education, and what it means to be human. On a more general note,Wollstonecraft’s reviews show that in the late eighteenth century, people were aware of the political purpose of scientific writings.

Friday 12 October, 1pm

Professor George Rousseau, University of Oxford

The Notorious Sir John Hill: Georgian Celebrity Science and Attacks on the Royal Society

No man in Georgian England ever attacked the Royal Society more savagely than Sir John Hill (1714-1775), and no one in his era was more notorious for public scandal. This talk sketches Hill's multi-faceted life and assesses his attacks on the Royal Society and the changes they effected. George Rousseau's biography, the first ever written of this curious figure, has just appeared in America and will be on display during the lecture.

Friday 19 October, 1pm

Dr Clemency Fisher

The zoological world of Edward Lear

Edward Lear is most famous for his Nonsense Rhymes, such as “The Owl and the Pussycat” and “The Quangle Wangle’s Hat”, but he was also a talented zoological artist and described several new species of birds. As part of the celebrations for the bicentenary of Lear’s birth in 1812, Dr Fisher will explore Lear’s time working as an artist and tutor for the 13th Earl of Derby’s family at Knowsley Hall, near Liverpool. Lear used some of the birds and mammals in Lord Derby’s aviary and menagerie as models for his paintings and many of these individuals are now in the collections of National Museums Liverpool. Several are the types on which new species were based. A current project, shared by NML and the Western Australian Museum, is the unravelling of a knotty problem with the nomenclature of Baudin’s Cockatoo, which Lear described in 1832.

See the Royal Society events listings for further details -

The Brain and the Mind

Lisa Appignanesi and Lara Feigel are organising a new series of six panel discussions on behalf of the Centre for the Humanities and Health and the English department at King’s College London.  The talks will take place from October 2012-March 2013.

The series is called The Brain and the Mind and brings together neuroscientists with writers, artists, philosophers, psychiatrists, psychologists and psychoanalysts to explore how the varying languages which probe mind and brain can talk to each other.  Sessions address questions of free will, evolution, empathy, autism, gender and memory and speakers include the artists Simon McBurney, A.S. Byatt, Imogen Cooper, Tim Crane, Darian Leader, Michele Roberts and Fiona Shaw and the scientists Simon Baron-Cohen, Anthony David, Patrick Haggard, Francesca Happe, Melissa Hines, Peter Hobson, Michael Kopelman, Steven Rose, Michael Rutter and Mark Solms.  Poppy Sebag-Montefiore has made short films of the scientists in their labs which will be screened at the talks.

The first session, on The Brain, Free Will and the Inner Life, is on 18 October and is part of the KCL Arts and Humanities festival.

To find out more please visit

"‘Face to Face’ — Encounters between the Arts and Sciences" is an Interdisciplinary Colloquium to be held at Queen Mary University of London, on Friday, 22nd June 2012.


09.30-10.00 Coffee and Registration (Lockkeepers’ Cottage, Georg Steiner Room)
10.00-10.15 Welcome and Introduction
10.15-10.55 KEYNOTE LECTURE: Prof. Leonard Olschner (Queen Mary University of London): ‘A Science of Literature’

1st Panel: Literature – ‘L’Objet ambigu’
11.00-11.40 Florian Strob (Queen’s College, Oxford): ‘The Meaning and Importance of ‘maybe’ – Literature, Literary Studies and Valéry on the Beach’
11.40-12.20 Manon Mathias (Bangor University): ‘Crystallography in Sand, Stendhal and Pictet’
12.20-12.40 Geraint A. Wiggins (QMUL): ‘Scientific Creativity, Scientifically Studied’

12.40-14.00 Lunch (own arrangements)

2nd Panel: Science on Stage
14.00-14.40 Eric Heinze (QMUL): ‘The Empirically Imperial in Shakespeare’s Cymbeline’
14.40-15.20 Annabel Cox (QMUL): ‘Representations of Medicine in the Literature of Madness’

15.20-15.50 Tea

3rd Panel: Anglo-German Literary Representations of Science
15.50-16.30 Nina Engelhardt (University of Edinburgh): ‘Face to Face in the Imaginary Domain: Mathematics and Literature in Musil’s The Confusions of Young Törless and Pynchon’s Against the Day’
16.30-17.10 Annja Neumann (QMUL) ‘Face to Face with Science and Literature. Two poems by Edgar Allan Poe and John Herschel’

17.10-17.30 Closing Discussion
17.30 Wine Reception

The Colloquium is free to attend but registration is essential. Please contact the organisers: Annja Neumann, or

If you're making an extended stay in Oxford, some of the following events and places may be of interest. See also the Oxford City Guide and Visit Oxfordshire websites.

Museum of the History of Science, Broad St, OX1 3AZ: ‘Time Machines’. Open 12.00-17.00, and 10.00-17.00 on Saturdays.

Oxford University Museum of Natural History, Park Rd, OX1 3PW. Open 10.00-17.00.

Pitt Rivers Museum (entrance via the Museum of Natural History). Open 10.00-16.30.

Ruth Simons, ‘Drawing a Line’, exhibition at the North Wall Gallery, South Parade, Summertown, OX2 7NN. Open 11.00-16.00.

The Factory and Creation Theatre present The Odyssey, Norrington Room, Blackwell’s Bookshop, Broad Street.

Online booking for the BSLS 2012 conference is now available here:

Please note that if you wish to book for the conference dinner at Merton, you must do so by Friday 30th March. (Because of the Easter break, the college needs notice of numbers far in advance.) Please note also that the price of the dinner is not inclusive of drinks.

The conference programme is now available here (at a slightly different address from the one previously ciruclated):

BSLS 2012 Workshop Proposal “Experiments in Theatre: New Directions in Science and Performance”

In 2002, Interdisciplinary Science Reviews published a special issue on Theatre and Science that became the springboard for key debates that have helped to shape and define the field. Since then, several new books and dozens of articles have significantly expanded the scholarship on theatre and science, while a steady flow of new work for the stage has shown that the interactions between science and theatre continue to surprise, delight, and provoke audiences and readers around the world.

Now, a decade on, we plan to hold a workshop that will bring together scholars and practitioners engaging with theatre and science to explore new developments, directions, and explorations in this ever-expanding field. This is an opportunity to share work in progress and get feedback on it, take stock of current trends in the field and suggest new ones.

Format: participants will distribute their papers ahead of the workshop, allowing them to be read beforehand so that on the day we will only need brief summaries from each participant and can devote most of the session to discussion, questions and answers, and targeted responses. We will encourage audience participation in the Q and A.

Topics the workshop might explore include (but are not limited to):

  • How has the field evolved and expanded away from the focus on text-based “science plays” like Stoppard’s Arcadia, Wertenbaker’s After Darwin, and Frayn’s Copenhagen to a greater emphasis on performance in its broadest sense, through such diverse practitioners as Complicite (A Disappearing Number), Punchdrunk (Faust), Athletes of the Heart (Yerma’s Eggs), and Clod Ensemble (Performing Medicine)?
  • How do theatre and scientific experimentation intersect and cross-fertilize each other?
  • How has theatre engaged with relatively recent scientific findings and debates, such as those over climate change and global warming?
  • What new modes of performance has the interaction of science with theatre generated?

Please send expressions of interest, a title and an abstract to the convenors below by 30 December 2011.

Convenors of the Workshop
Dr Carina Bartleet (Senior Lecturer in Drama, Oxford Brookes University),
Dr Kirsten Shepherd-Barr (University Lecturer in Modern Drama, University of Oxford),

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