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MDRN, KU Leuven, February 6-7, 2020

By the turn of the twentieth century, the ‘new astronomy’ had developed into a proper scientific discipline, with its own sets of instruments, its own journals, its own jargon, and its own interpretative authority. With the acceleration of new discoveries and insights into stellar phenomena, the emerging mass media ensured that this astronomical knowledge fascinated an even wider audience in the late 19th and early 20th century. At the same time, literature across Europe responded to the fascinating astronomical developments in a variety of modes, styles, and genres. From science fiction stories in penny magazines and didactic stories in boys’ papers to high modernist fiction and avant-garde poetry, many authors aesthetically imagined the starry night that had been scientifically laid out by astronomers. While some of the more highbrow responses to the new astronomical discoveries and innovative physical theories such as relativity theory and quantum theory as well as the response of new ‘science fiction’ have already been extensively studied by literary critics, the larger fictional engagement with the expanding astronomical knowledge awaits further exploration.

This two-day symposium wants to reflect on the many different literary responses to a universe that had been newly imagined and interpreted by astronomers between 1890 and 1950, so as to gauge the role literature played in in mediating astronomical knowledge and exploring new ways of imagining the cosmos. The conference aims to arrive at a better understanding of the convergences between physical, cultural, and literary practices that developed around the new astronomical discoveries between 1890 and 1950. It homes in on writings from different registers—highbrow, avant-garde, middlebrow and more popular forms of literature—as well as on writings from various European cultures and languages, in order to determine how European literature of the modernist period reflects on astronomy as a stimulus and transformative force in fiction. The conference invites papers that address such questions as the following …

  • how did advances in astronomy shape central literary concerns,
  • how was astronomical knowledge narrated in (popular, middlebrow, highbrow) fiction,
  • how did literature participate in the dissemination of astronomical literature in the wider cultural field?
  • how was the astronomical imagination legitimized in the process of knowledge production,
  • how did literature comment on the epistemological status of both astronomy and fiction?

Topics might include (but are not limited to) …

  • literary representation of stellar phenomena
  • convergences between the sciences and cosmological resp. stellar tropes
  • notions of the cosmos in relation to literary form and genre
  • theories of constellations as a poetological concept
  • astronomical fiction across Europe with a comparative approach
  • transnational/-cultural dissemination of astronomical knowledge
  • extraterrestrial life debates in literature
  • well-known and lost authors of popular fiction
  • seeing and vision as a key metaphors in astronomical fiction
  • key figures of the history of astronomy and their literary resurgence (Copernicus, Galilei, Brahe, etc.)

This symposium is part of the larger research project Literary Knowledge, 1890-1950: Modernisms and the Sciences in Europe based in the research lab MDRN at the University of Leuven in Belgium. Please send an abstract (350 words max) and a short bio (250 words max) in the same file to Christoph Richter by October 15th. The presentation of papers should not exceed 20 minutes. Accepted applicants will receive an email confirming their participation by the end of October. We would like to encourage scholars at all stages of their career to consider sending a proposal. A selection of papers will be published in peer-reviewed journal.

Christoph Richter

MDRN

Katholieke Universiteit Leuven

Blijde-Inkomststraat 21 - box 3311
3000 Leuven, Belgium

Conference venue: Johannes Gutenberg-Universität Mainz (Campus Germersheim), Germany

Dates: 17th-19th September 2020

By casting scientific communication as “knowledge in transit”, James Secord (2004) drew attention to translation’s central role in shaping the knowledge-sharing processes seminal to scientific endeavour. More recently, both historians of science and of translation studies have placed greater focus on the power dynamics that determine which texts are selected for translation, by whom and for onward transmission into which other languages and scientific cultures. In the late 18th and 19th centuries, “standard” languages of science started to emerge in Europe, marking a shift away from the lingua franca of Latin towards the development of a handful of more “major” languages, which cast themselves as carrying a cultural and intellectual authority in transnational scientific communities. Meanwhile the growing body of work on the relationship between 18th-and 19th-century science and literature has demonstrated that the stylistic choices, rhetorical devices and modes of expression deployed by scientific authors – and also their translators – were key to shaping a work’s credibility and, by association, the integrity of its writer.

Taking as its focus the translation of specialist scientific treatises, handbooks, periodicals, as much as more “popular” works intended for a broader audience (including adolescents and children), this conference seeks to investigate patterns of information flow in the 18th and 19th centuries. It is interested in the productive collaborative exchanges or tensions between authors and translators, the role of translators as gatekeepers of knowledge, and the (in)visibility of women and other subaltern groups in knowledge-making processes in this period. In this energetic period of nation-building, the relationship between identity, language and (trans)national scientific communities increasingly acquires relevance, as do the connections between colonial centre and periphery. The spatial dimensions of the practices of translation are relevant to these developments, as indeed are changes in print culture, distribution and the dynamics of the book market. The conference is also interested in how 20th- or 21st-century (re-)translations of scientific writing from the Enlightenment and Romantic periods have repositioned these source texts and their authors for the modern age.

This conference therefore seeks to develop our understanding of the mobility of scientific print culture by exploring the relationship between scientific writing and translation from the perspectives of cultural studies, translation studies, history of science, archival studies, history of the book and print culture studies. Participants are invited to address one or more of the following issues in their 30-minute papers:

  • scientific institutions, language policy and translation
  • theoretical approaches to the practices of scientific translation
  • science, translation and national identity
  • scientific authorship, style and translation
  • scientific translation and paratext
  • gender, agency and translation in science
  • translation in/of scientific periodicals
  • scientific translation and the materiality of print culture
  • text and image in scientific translation
  • geographies of translation and knowledge exchange
  • readers and reading communities of scientific work in translation
  • 18th- and 19th-century science, translation and the digital humanities

Please send a title, abstract (max. 250 words) and bio (max. 100 words) by 13th September 2019 to Professor Alison E. Martin (JGU Mainz/Germersheim): amarti01@uni-mainz.de

Activism has been instrumental in developing the study and practice of medicine. Working both from within and against the medical profession, medical practitioners, patients, and others have influenced access to care, standards of care, diagnostic practices, medical law, and patient choice and welfare. Activism in Medicine explores some of the different ways in which activism has influenced medicine through history. This collection has grown out of the interdisciplinary symposium ‘The Disease of Caring’, held at Birkbeck, University of London, in 2018 with the support of the Wellcome Institutional Strategic Support Fund.
 
The collection uses a broad definition of both the terms ‘activism’ and ‘medicine’. ‘Medicine’ may cover mental and physical health care, disability care and support, maternity and child care, public health, etc. ‘Activism’ may range from campaigns by medical professionals to patient advocacy to public engagement with medical practices. We are open to proposals from different historical periods up to the present day, and we encourage interdisciplinary approaches and international perspectives.
 
Topics may include, but are not limited to: 
 
·      Activism within and against institutions 
·      Patient advocacy and social models of care
·      Activism by and against medical professionals
·      Public health campaigns
·      Reactions to and against diagnosis
 
We welcome proposals for chapters of up to 7000 words (including notes). Please submit an abstract of up to 500 words to Flore Janssen, Laura Cushing-Harries, and Simon Jarrett at activistmedics@gmail.com by Monday 16 September
BSLS will be proposing two panels to the ‘English: Shared Futures 2’ conference in Manchester next year, and seeks members to represent us, following the Society’s successful panel at the first ‘Shared Futures’ in 2017. The first will be a general panel on the latest research in literature and science, consisting of 5 x 10-minute papers followed by Q&A. There is no theme for this panel, but we particularly welcome papers on literature and science in relation to recent trends/topics in the field, such as popular literature, children’s literature, decanonizing and decolonizing, and the environment. The second is a roundtable, ‘Turning English into STEAM: what can English do with Science - for schools, universities and the public?’, which will seek to showcase (and encourage further) outward-facing work by our members, and will involve 5 speakers.
 
We would like the panels to demonstrate the full breadth of what we do as literature and science scholars, and to involve researchers at all career stages. For those without permanent positions or access to research funds, BSLS will provide bursaries for travel/ accommodation/ registration fees.
 
Please send a title, 100-word description, and brief biog (which includes details regarding your career stage) to the Chair of BSLS, Greg Lynall (g.j.lynall@liverpool.ac.uk), by Monday 23 September.
 
Details regarding the conference itself can be found at <https://www.englishsharedfutures.uk/>
 

 

The ERC-funded project Diseases of Modern Life: Nineteenth Century Perspectives is pleased to announce the launch of its database for researchers. The database contains a list of over 3000 references, gathered together by researchers on the project. The majority of these are primary sources, with a small selection of secondary sources which provide historical context, from seven of the thematic strands explored by the project: Finance and Speculation, Diseases of Professions and Occupations, Addiction, Climate and Health, Education and Overpressure, Nervous Diseases, Technology and New Inventions. Primary sources range from newspaper and journal articles to printed books, from across the long nineteenth century. 
 
The entries will be helpful for research ranging across nineteenth-century medicine, science and culture. It can be accessed online or downloaded for full functionality at the following link: https://diseasesofmodernlife.web.ox.ac.uk/database. Please share this far and wide! 

Extinctions and Rebellions

Saturday 16th November 2019

University of Liverpool

Organisers: Anna Burton and Sally Blackburn-Daniels

“We are at a time in history where everyone with any insight of the climate crisis that threatens our civilisation – and the entire biosphere – must speak out in clear language, no matter how uncomfortable and unprofitable that may be.”

In 2019, extinction is no longer the province of dinosaurs, the Dodo, or species far away in space and time. As Greta Thunberg argued in her Davos speech earlier this year, and as the ongoing socio-political efforts of the Extinction Rebellion suggest, extinction of the human (as well as the non-human) is an immediate concern and a very possible outcome of the climate crisis, unless significant action is taken by all. With this in mind, the ‘Extinctions and Rebellions’ symposium will think about the varied cultural discourses of extinction, past and present. It will not only be a platform to discuss current environmental and ecological concerns of the Anthropocene in the cultural imagination, but it also offers a space to think about how previous literary and scientific forms have imagined extinction as a process or finality, and how these conversations speak to and could offer a means to think about our current climate crisis. Moreover, we will explore ‘extinction’ and ‘rebellion’ as they pertain to questions of literary form and scientific theory and practice. This one-day event will allow postgraduates, early-career researchers, and academics to think about how the sciences and humanities can work together, inform, and facilitate the “clear language” needed to rebel against human and non-human extinction.

The questions presented by this symposium theme are relevant to all researchers, and we welcome delegates from varied career stages to allow for a diverse discussion. However, ‘Extinctions and Rebellions’ will also focus on how researchers in the earlier phases of their career can start (or continue) to think about the relevance and impacts of their work. The question of ‘Impact’ for REF2021 is one often discussed by established academics, but through a ‘Literature, Science, and Impact’ roundtable, this event will encourage postgraduates and ECRs to discuss the ways in which this field and their work can create changes to thinking and behaviours, and what this can mean for their future research too.

Potential topics include, but are not limited to:

  • Non-human Species and Ecological Biodiversity
  • Climate Crisis, Environmentalism, and the Anthropocene
  • Imagining the End of the World and/or the Apocalypse
  • Scientific Extinctions (discourses that have been disproved or are no longer relevant)
  • Extinct or Dormant Literary Forms (which have a bearing on science)
  • Transhumanism and/or Posthumanism (ways of extending life and humanity beyond extinction using technology)
  • Creative writing and Extinction

We welcome proposals for 20 minute papers. Please send an abstract of no more than 300 words to bslsrebellions@gmail.com by Monday 23rd September 2019, accompanied by a short biography (100 words). We are also seeking a couple of  kind volunteers for the Impact Roundtable, so if interested in participating, please get in touch!

Following the success of the JLS/BSLS essay prize in previous years, The JLS and the British Society for Literature and Science would like to announce the 2019 prize for the best new essay by an early career scholar on a topic within the field of literature and science.

Essays should be currently unpublished and not under consideration by another journal. They should be approx. 8,000 words long, inclusive of references, and should be send by email to both Will Tattersdill, Communications Officer of the BSLS (w.j.tattersdill@bham.ac.uk), and Martin Willis, Editor of the JLS (willism8@cardiff.ac.uk), by 12 noon on Friday, 30th August, 2019

The prize is open to BSLS members who are postgraduate students or have completed a doctorate within three years of this date.

The prize will be judged jointly by representatives of the BSLS and JLS. The winning essay will be announced on the BSLS website and published in the JLS. The winner will also receive a prize of £100.

Read previous prize winning essays in the JLS: www.literatureandscience.org

(The judges reserve the right not to award the prize should no essay of a high enough standard be submitted.)

Registration is now open for Beastly Modernisms

An international conference on the animal turn in modernist studies.

University of Glasgow (12-13th September 2019)

You can register here! We welcome delegates from across the arts, animal studies, and beyond, at all levels of study. 

Our programme is available on our website

Follow us @BeastlyMods

Contact us: beastlymodernisms@gmail.com

If you are a postgraduate student based in Scotland attending as a delegate, and would like to be considered for the Scottish Network of Modernist Studies student travel bursary please email us to register your interest.

At 7.00 pm on Sunday 7th July in the Levi Fox Hall Edward’s Boys will give their first performance of Wit and Science by John Redford prior to touring Oxford, London and Genoa, Italy where they will perform at the invitation of the Société Internationale pour l’étude du Théâtre Médiéval.

Redford, composer, organist and choirmaster of St Paul’s Cathedral, seems to have written the play around 1540. It exists in one manuscript in the British Library. Part comic allegory and part satire on education, and including four songs, Wit and Science is important for several reasons: it spawned imitations and sequels; it is a rare example of an English ‘school play’; and it tells us something about how a Tudor schoolmaster understood his educational project. 

Performances

Sunday 7th July, 7.00pm – Levi Fox Hall CV37 6BE
Tickets: £10; Concessions: £5

Monday 8th July, 6.00pm – The Chapel. New College, Oxford OX1 3BN
Tickets: £10; Concessions: £5

Tuesday 9th July, 7.00pm – the Priory Church of the Order of St John, Clerkenwell, London EC1V 4JJ
Tickets: £12; Concessions: £6

Tickets for performances may be purchased by means of the online Box Office https://www.ticketsource.co.uk/kes

Friday 12th July, 7.00pm for the Société Internationale pour l’étude du Théâtre Médiéval at the Palazzo Ducale di Genova, Italy

The Journal of Literature and Science http://www.literatureandscience.org is once again looking for reviewers to review various articles published in the last year to 18 months in the field of literature and science.

Please find below a number of articles that we would like to offer for review for the Journal’s forthcoming 2019 Winter issue. Its largely first come, first served, so do get in touch with an offer to review a specific article by emailing Michelle Geric m.geric@westminster.ac.uk

I would also be very happy to receive suggestions for other relevant articles for review that aren’t listed below – please do let me know.

Reviews should be 750 words long. For more details please follow the link: http://www.literatureandscience.org or contact Michelle m.geric@westminster.ac.uk to register your interest.

SUGGESTED ARTICLES:

Sandra Robinson. “Databases and Doppelgängers: New Articulations of Power.” Configurations 26. 4 (2018): 411-440. 

Valerie O'Brien. “‘A Genius for Unreality’: Neurodiversity in Elizabeth Bowen's Eva Trout.” Journal of Modern Literature 42. 2 (2019): 75-93.

Lorenzo Servitje. “Of Drugs and Droogs: Cultural Dynamics, Psychopharmacology, and Neuroscience in Anthony Burgess’s A Clockwork Orange.” Literature and Medicine 36. 1 (2018): 101-123.

Kurt Beals, “‘Do the New Poets Think? It's Possible’: Computer Poetry and Cyborg Subjectivity.” Configurations 26. 2 (2018): 149-177. 

Ursula K Heise. “Science Fiction and the Time Scales of the Anthropocene.” ELH 86. 2 (2019): 275-304.

Jocelyn Rodal. “Patterned Ambiguities: Virginia Woolf, Mathematical Variables, and Form.” Configurations 26. 1 (2018): 73-101.

Christy Rieger. “Chemical Romance: Genre and Materia Medica in Late-Victorian Drug Fiction.” Victorian Literature and Culture 47. 2 (2019): 409-437.

Pascale McCullough Manning. “The Hyde We Live In: Stevenson, Evolution, and the Anthropogenic Fog.” Victorian Literature and Culture 46. 1 (2018): 181–99.

Katja Jylkka, “‘Witness the Plesiosaurus’: Geological Traces and the Loch Ness Monster Narrative.” Configurations 26. 2 (2018): 207-234.

Thomas M. Stuart, “Out of Time: Queer Temporality and Eugenic Monstrosity.” Victorian Studies 60. 2 (2018): 218-227.

Larsen, Haley. “‘The Spirit of Electricity’: Henry James's In the Cage and Electric Female Imagination at the Turn of the Century.” Configurations 26. 4 (2018): 357-387. 

Elisavet Ioannidou. “Neo-Victorian Visions of the Future: Science, Crime, and Modernity.” Victoriographies 8. 2 (2018): 187-205. 

Mary Kuhn, “Dickinson and the Politics of Plant Sensibility.” ELH 85. 1 (2018): 141-170.

Doreen Thierauf. “Tending to Old Stories: Daniel Deronda and Hysteria, Revisited. Victorian Literature and Culture 46. 2 (2018): 443-465.

Sara Brio. “The Shocking Truth: Science, Religion, and Ancient Egypt in Early Nineteenth-Century Fiction.” Nineteenth-Century Contexts 40. 4 (2018): 331-344.

John Rogers. “Newton's Arian Epistemology and the Cosmogony of Paradise Lost.” ELH 86. 1 (2019): 77-106. 

Alexander Jakobidze-Gitman. “The Rise of Machines in Reformation Nuremberg: Jakob Ayrer's ‘Fastnachtspiel of Fritz Dölla with His Bewitched Fiddle’.” Configurations 26. 4 (2018): 441-469. 

I would also like to draw the attention of potential reviewers to the recent issue of Literature and Medicine which is themed “Chemistry, Disability, and Frankenstein” (volume 36, no. 2, 2018). Please do get in touch if there is an article from this issue that you would like to review.

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