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The British Society for Literature and Science invites proposals for papers and panels to be delivered at its seventh annual conference, to be held at the English Faculty, University of Oxford, 12-14 April 2012. The deadline for receipt of proposals is Monday 5 December 2011; we anticipate that announcements about acceptances/rejections will be issued 9 January 2012.

Plenary speakers will include Professor Jonathan Sawday (St Louis University), author of The Body Emblazoned: Dissection and the Human Body in Renaissance Culture (1995) and Engines of the Imagination: Renaissance Culture and the Rise of the Machine (2007), among other works.

There is no theme for this year’s conference, and we hope to receive a wide range of proposals covering a wide range of historical periods. Those unfamiliar with the BSLS may wish to look at past conference programmes and at the short-listed titles in successive book-prize competitions. We would particularly welcome papers that reflect on the state of the field. This might include the state of the field in relation to particular kinds of literature and historical periods; the differences in critical practices in relation to different kinds and periods; differences between British, continental European, and North American approaches; forms of historicism; and the relation of literature and science to neighbouring fields, such as literature and medicine, ecocriticism, evocriticism and other forms of criticism inspired by evolutionary biology.

In addition to regular panels, we would like to hold a series of workshops on the state of the field. Possible topics are: poetry; fiction; drama; teaching literature and science; historicism; dialogues between practitioners in different historical periods. We seek short (ten-minute) position papers defending or criticising particular approaches, or raising larger questions. If you are interested in offering such a paper, please contact the conference organiser by Monday 21 November. Within the workshop segment we also hope to have panel or panels on teaching literature and science: again, if you wish to offer an account of your teaching practice, please contact the conference organiser.

Thanks to a generous donation, there will be a bursary of £150 awarded to a graduate student on the basis on the paper proposals. The student must be registered for a masters or doctoral degree on 9 January 2012.

Proposals for papers of 15-20 minutes, and for panels, should be sent in the body of the email text (no attachments, please), to They should consist of: the title; a proposal of no more than 300 words; the title again; the name, postal address, and email address of the proposer; and, if you are applying for the graduate student bursary, the email address of your supervisor or other person who will be able to confirm that you are a registered student.

Accommodation: please note that those attending will need to make their own arrangements for accommodation. As in previous years, we anticipate that the conference will begin at about 1pm on the first day and conclude at about 2pm on the last.

Membership: in order to attend the conference, you must be a paid-up member of the BSLS for 2012. We anticipate that it will be possible to pay the £10 annual membership fee when paying the conference fee online.

Proposals and other enquiries should be sent to the conference organizer, Dr Michael Whitworth, on

Department of History and Philosophy of Science
University of Cambridge

This one day workshop, aimed particularly at postgraduates and early career
researchers, introduces and explores historiographical and methodological
issues unique to the history of alchemy and chemistry. We will investigate
the practical challenges of researching chemistry over different periods,
from pre-modern matter theories and artisanal practices, to the shaping of
chemistry as a formal discipline in the eighteenth and nineteenth
centuries, and the increasing permeability of chemistry's boundaries with
other disciplines, including physics and the biosciences, in modern times.
Participation is welcomed both from scholars already working on related
topics, and those interested in exploring points of intersection between
the history of chemistry and their own research.

Discussion will be framed by presentations from junior and established
scholars, including:

  • Hasok Chang (University College London), 'Why has chemistry become
    unfashionable for historians of science?'
  • Jennifer Rampling (University of Cambridge), 'Interpreting alchemy: text,
    image, and practice.'
  • Karin Ekholm (Indiana University, Bloomington), 'Some problems in the
    history of seventeenth-century chemistry.'
  • John Perkins (Oxford Brookes University), 'Searching for chemists in
    eighteenth-century France.'
  • Pieter Thyssen (Catholic University of Leuven), 'The Replication Method in
    the history of chemistry: resolving a nineteenth-century priority dispute.'
  • Viviane Quirke (Oxford Brookes University), 'Chemistry, the pharmaceutical
    industry, and medicine in the twentieth century: drugs as "boundary

Lunch is provided. There is no charge for attendance, but registration is
required. Assistance is available towards the cost of travel and
accommodation. Please email Jennifer Rampling for further
details, and to register.

Sponsored by the Society for the History of Alchemy and Chemistry (SHAC).
For more information on SHAC, including details of the Society's award
scheme for junior scholars, see

The workshop immediately follows the BSHS Postgraduate Conference in
Cambridge (5-7 January).

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(Dis)Entangling Darwin: Cross-Disciplinary Reflections
University of Porto, Portugal

2009 marks the bicentenary of Charles Darwin's birth (12 February 1809) and the 150th anniversary of the publication of his groundbreaking On the Origin of Species (24 November 1859). The University of Porto CETAPS (Centre for English, Translation and Anglo-Portuguese Studies) is holding a special conference to honour Charles Darwin's enduring legacy, and examine how his ideas remain central to contemporary research, within and beyond the biological sciences, echoing the global celebrations of his life and work, and his impact across the disciplines.

Keynote speakers include David Amigoni (Keele University, UK) and John Van Wyhe (Cambridge University, UK). Special guest speakers include: Ana Leonor Pereira - Historian, History and Sociology of Science and Culture/Specialist in the History of Darwinism in Portugal (UC); Filipe Furtado - Specialist in English Cultural Studies and in Victorian politics, aesthetics, philosophy and scientific thought, author of various articles on Darwin and Darwinism. (FCSH-UNL); João Cabral - Historian and Botanist. Specialist in Darwin's contributions to nineteenth-century botanical studies (FCUP); Jorge Vieira - Biologist/Molecular Evolution/IBMC (Institute for Molecular and Cell Biology); Maria Teresa Malafaia - Specialist in English/Victorian Studies/Social Darwinism (UL); Nuno Ferrand - Biologist. CIBIO coordinator (Research Center in Biodiversity and Genetic Resources - UP); Octávio Mateus - Biologist and Paleontologist (specialist in Dinosaurs. FCT-UNL/Museum of Lourinhã).

The conference title draws inspiration from the notable conclusion of Darwin's On the Origin of Species. In it he writes:

It is interesting to contemplate an entangled bank, clothed with many plants of many kinds, with birds singing on the bushes, with various insects flitting about, and with worms crawling through the damp earth, and to reflect that these elaborately constructed forms, so different from each other, and dependent on each other in so complex a manner, have all been produced by laws acting around us [...] There is grandeur in this view of life, with its several powers, having been originally breathed into a few forms or into one; and that, whilst this planet has gone cycling on according to the fixed law of gravity, from so simple a beginning endless forms most beautiful and most wonderful have been, and are being, evolved.

Darwin's descriptions rely on the formulation of incredibly complex and visual pictures, often portrayed in a series of "imaginary illustrations" which combine colourful arrangements of both facts and suppositions. The reader is constantly involved in a visual perceptual chaos of entanglements and webbed relationships, performances and theatricalities, exhibiting the way in which the human, animal and natural worlds are mutually imbricated. This conference wishes to contribute to the ongoing disentanglement of Darwin's legacy, which remains as controversial to twenty-first century critics as it was to Darwin's contemporaries. There are still many missing links and inherent contradictions that continue to attract growing, interdisciplinary attention from a wide range of specialisms. All in all, the re-drawing of physical and psychological frontiers demanded by evolutionary theory in an attempt to define what is meant by human nature is still very much in progress, validating at the same time extraordinary opportunities for further research.

We welcome 20-minute papers in English dealing with all aspects of Darwin's legacy, from science to literature and the social sciences, the visual arts, religion, philosophy, politics and cultural relations. Please include the following information with your proposal: the full title of your paper; a 250-300 word abstract; your name, postal address and e-mail address; your institutional affiliation and position; any audiovisual requirements you may have. The deadline for proposals is 15 October 2009. Participants will be notified of acceptance no later than 31 October 2009.

Inquiries and proposals should be sent to the following e-mail: Conference fee: 60,00 ? (includes coffee breaks and Friday lunch). Attendance is free for UP students. OPTIONAL - Conference Dinner (Friday): 20 ? Please check the Porto Faculty of Letters/Sigarra website for updates. Additional Information Porto Airport Organising Committee Fátima Vieira Jorge Bastos da Silva Sara Graça da Silva

Eye of the Storm: An interdisciplinary art and science conference on scientific controversy

Location: Tate Britain, Millbank, London SW1P 4RG, UK

From esoteric arguments over the structure of the universe to highly charged public controversies around the use of stem cells, The Arts Catalyst is bringing together an international line up of artists and scientists to debate today's hot issues in science and society in the Eye of the Storm on 19 and 20 June.

This two-day conference at Tate Britain will touch on brilliance and ego, obsessions and cover-ups, dissent and whistle-blowing, big science, high finance, deviant science, the reliability of knowledge and the legislation of uncertainty. Eye of the Storm develops Tate's mission to present new research and debates within visual culture into the area of contemporary interrelationships between art, science and society.

See the conference website for registration and programme details.

Romantic Disorder: Predisciplinarity and the Divisions of Knowledge 1750-1850

Modern disciplines like geology, history, and anthropology often trace their origins to Romantic-era developments. "Literature," as a distinct category of expressive writing also emerged in conjunction with other disciplines, a synthetic dialogue that would later be characterized as a contentious division between "two cultures." So too do sites such as the gallery, the museum, and the academy emerge around this time as new forms of sociability, as attempts to display unruly arrays of pictures and other eccentric specimens.

What can Romantic-era aesthetic practices contribute to our understandings of the rise of disciplinarity in the nineteenth century? How can the increasing professionalization and isolation of practices like botany, literary criticism, geology, art and theatre reviews, and collecting illuminate the unruly dynamism of aesthetic forms, both verbal and visual? How do the spaces (whether institutional, geographic, or social) of predisciplinary encounters and formations help shape disciplinary discourses, and how do subjects with varying degrees of agency participate in these discourses? Reading against the grain of the "rise of disciplinarity", and trying to undo its teleological short circuits, this conference seeks to engage imaginatively with the possibilities of predisciplinarity.

For information on registration visit the conference Website or write to Jon Millington

Conference Venue: Roberts Building, UCL, Malet Place, Torrington Place, London, WC1E 7JE (opposite the Gower St Waterstones)

Conference Committee: Luisa Calè (Birkbeck), Adriana Craciun (University of California, Riverside), Luciana Martins (Birkbeck).

A Bicentenary Celebration, 1809-2009

2009 marks the bicentenary of the birth of both Charles Darwin and
Alfred Tennyson. Our one-day conference will celebrate this event
by exploring the interaction of literature and science in the Victorian
period, mining the rich vein of research opened up by Professor Dame
Gillian Beer in Darwin’s Plots (1983) and developed by Professor
George Levine in Darwin and the Novelists (1988).

Professors Beer and Levine will both present plenary papers at the
conference, outlining the latest thinking and building on the central
insight that ‘the cultural traffic ran both ways’. Short papers will
therefore explore, not only the influence of Darwin on writers as various
as George Eliot, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and Thomas Hardy, but in
addition the ways in which Victorian scientists, in particular Thomas
Huxley, read and misread Tennyson and other writers, including
Darwin’s favourite novelist Charles Dickens. There will be papers on the
effect of evolutionary debates on women writers, notably Sarah Grand
and Augusta Webster.

Speakers will include David Amigoni, Gowan Dawson, Roger Ebbatson,
Matthew Rowlinson, Marion Shaw, Rebecca Stott and Clive Wilmer.

For further information contact valerie.purton _at_

The Oxford Literature and Science seminar is meeting twice termly; all with a research interest in the area are welcome, whether members of the university or not. The second event in Trinity Term 2009 will be held in the Breakfast Room, Merton College, Oxford.

Friday 12 June 2009 (7th week), 2pm.

Jean-François Peyret (founder and director of the Tf2 theatre company, Paris), speaking about Les Variations Darwin.

Peyret's work has included productions such as Les Variations Darwin, Galileo, and Le Cas de Sophie K, all of which involved collaborations with scientists.

Further details about the seminar are to be found at:

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Looking back on the End of Time — Modernism and Beyond

University of East Anglia, UK

Keynote Speakers: Prof. Randall Stevenson (University of Edinburgh) and Dr
Bryony Randall (University of Glasgow)

At the turn of the twentieth century developments in the sciences and
technology seemed to necessitate a radical review of the nature, perhaps
even the existence, of time. This interdisciplinary conference will look
at ways in which key figures from this period conceptualised and
represented these changes, and at how this period has been represented
since. Papers will range from the history of science to philosophy and
literature. Further details on the conference website.

Abstracts of 300-400 words should be sent to Kate Armond or Simon de Bourcier by Wednesday June 3rd 2009.

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DICKENS DAY - Dickens and Science

Saturday 10 October 2009, London

G. H. Lewes famously criticised Dickens’s failure to engage with contemporary scientific thought and proffer psychologically convincing characters, describing them as ‘frogs whose brains have been taken out for physiological purposes’. Recent work, however, has significantly challenged the truism that Dickens was indifferent or even hostile towards the scientific discoveries and discourses of his age. Dubbed a member of ‘the steam-whistle party’ by Ruskin, he was volubly enthusiastic about technological and scientific advancements and discoveries, including steam-driven modes of transport and manufacture, industrialism, geology, evolutionary biology and the mutual relations of humanity and animal life. He also had interests in mesmerism, phrenology and physiology. From his enthusiastic article ‘The Poetry of Science’ (Examiner, 9 December 1848) to Little Dorrit’s fictional locomotive Mr Pancks, who ‘snorted and sniffed and puffed and blew, like a little labouring steam-engine’ and the ‘Megalosaurus’ stalking the opening of Bleak House, Dickens’s oeuvre contains multiple traces of contemporary scientific thought.

This one-day conference seeks to explore scientific and technological ideas and metaphors in Dickens’s novels and journalism and to place his life, work and thought in the context of Victorian science. We invite proposals for 20-minute papers on any aspect of the theme and warmly encourage postgraduate students to apply.

Topics could include but are not limited to:

Darwinian and Lamarckian evolutionary theories and metaphors
Geology and palaeontology
Hereditary transmission of behaviour and the biology of character
Affect and emotion
Inventors and new technologies
Professionalisation and the emergence of science as a discipline
Criminality, detection and forensics
Physiognomy, phrenology and the science of the grotesque
Mesmerism and spiritualism
Psychology, cognition and mental illness
Gender, sexuality and the science and politics of normalisation
Energy and thermodynamics
Psychological (im)plausibility, melodramatic aesthetics and radical politics
The ‘dismal sciences’: economics, political economy and Utilitarianism

Please send proposals (maximum 500 words), together with details of your institutional affiliation (if any) to Holly Furneaux and Ben Winyard, at and The deadline for paper proposals is 31 May 2009.

A one-day conference on this subject will be held at the University of Salford on Friday 4th
December 2009.

It has been 150 years since Thomas de Quincey died on the 8th December
1859. Conference papers are invited on any topic concerning his work,
Manchester, and medicine, during the period of his lifetime (1785-1859).

Plenary speaker Peter Kitson (author of Romantic Literature, Race, and
Colonial Encounter, 2008) will speak on 'Mr De Quincey and Dr White: The
Racial Politics of Manchester Medicine', and Grevel Lindop (author of The
Opium-Eater: A Life of Thomas De Quincey, 1981) will speak on 'Confessions
and Case Histories: De Quincey and the Medical Sublime'. We are hoping to
show an exhibition of de Quincey books from the University of Salford's
archives to accompany the conference.

Please send abstracts of no more than 200 words to Sharon Ruston, , by 31st May 2009.

This conference is sponsored by BARS, the British Association for Romantic

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