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The BSLS is delighted to announce the winner of its Book Prize for 2020: Biofictions: Race, Genetics and the Contemporary Novel (Bloomsbury Academic) by Josie Gill.

Josie Gill’s study of race and genetics in late twentieth and early twenty-first century fiction is critically engaged with science and its contexts, lucidly written, and politically urgent. Covering novels by, among others, Zadie Smith, Kazuo Ishiguro, Octavia Butler, and Colson Whitehead, it argues that the idea of race in genetic science is a biofiction, ‘an idea constituted through the complex entanglement of scientific and fictive forms.’ It takes in the sciences relevant to ancestry, human genomic diversity, epigenetics, and examines their relations to the changing social contexts for concepts of ‘race’ and anti-racist politics. In doing so, it illuminates how concepts of ‘race’ remain latent even when contemporary genetic science seems to have undermined the concept. Wearing its scholarship lightly, this outstanding study welcomes both the specialist in contemporary literature, the general reader, and, we hope, readers from the sciences.

Biofictions is available on open access funded by Knowledge Unlatched.


You can access the conference on this page!

To do so, you will need to be a BSLS member and logged in.

Dear members,

We’re very excited to be welcoming you to the annual conference on Thursday.

Access to the conference webpage will be sent out on Thursday at 9am BST. A link to the Microsoft Teams site will be included on the webpage - all members have been granted access already, but the link will help you to locate the conference Teams, if you’re struggling to find it at present.

The panel Teams channels will go live from 9am BST on Thursday 8th April. The official welcome will be at 3pm BST on Thursday, in the ‘Welcome’ channel.

In advance of the main conference, there’s an ECR Pre-Conference ‘Show and Tell!’ Event (7pm BST Wednesday 7th April):

If you're an Early Career Researcher, please come along to this pre-conference social event for some light networking and an opportunity to meet the rest of the community. Bring with you an image that bears in some way on the subject of your research. This could be something you're working on right now - a text, object, or artwork. You'll have just a few moments to introduce your image and yourself informally. This is not an official presentation, and participation is completely optional. Some of the BSLS committee will be along to welcome you as well! When the time comes, connect to Wonder via this link.

Do look out for the announcement on Thursday morning, and we look forward to seeing you very soon!

BSLS Executive Committee

The executive committee are busy preparing the online platforms ready for the annual conference next week, and we'll be issuing the confirmed conference programme after the Easter weekend. All current members should now have access to the conference MS Teams. If you're a new member, you should have received an email inviting you to join the Teams site - do check your junkmail if this doesn't seem to have arrived yet.

We look forward to seeing you next week - more information soon!

The British Society for Literature and Science is pleased to announce the shortlist for the 2020 book prize. The five shortlisted books are (alphabetically by author's surname):

Will Abberley, Mimicry and Display in Victorian Literary Culture: Nature, Science and the Nineteenth-Century Imagination (CUP)

Andrea Charise. The Aesthetics of Senescence: Aging, Population, and the Nineteenth-Century British Novel (SUNY Press)

Josie Gill, Biofictions: Race, Genetics and the Contemporary Novel (Bloomsbury Academic)

Tom Nurmi, Magnificent Decay: Melville and Ecology (University of Virginia Press)

Sara Wasson, Transplantation Gothic: Tissue transfer in literature, film, and medicine (Manchester University Press)

The prize of £150 will be awarded to the best book published in 2020 in the field of literature and science. The winner will be announced at this year's online conference.


The 2021 annual conference will be held 8-10 April, with papers remaining online for the rest of the month. It will be hosted on the BSLS website, on Microsoft Teams (via the University of Liverpool), and on Wonder.

A live roundtable will bring together four recent winners of the BSLS annual book prize, to reflect upon the field and their own practice: Ursula K. Heise (UCLA), John Holmes (Birmingham), Gerard Passannante (Maryland), Claire Preston (Queen Mary, University of London). The roundtable will be followed by the announcement of this year’s book prize winner.

Other live events will include virtual cafés and pubs (with a quiz night), a movie watch-along, a PGR/ECR social on 7th April, and the AGM. Panels will be asynchronous, with videos, narrated PowerPoints and scripts hosted on the BSLS website and Teams. Each panel will have a dedicated Teams channel, with the text-chat function in each channel used to host the Q&A. A provisional conference schedule and list of the panels can be found here.

Our new facebook group will post previews and updates leading up to the conference. Please note that we will not be using Facebook for any of the actual conference events; if you don't already have an account you will not need to create one.

There is no conference fee, but conference delegates will need to join/renew as members of the BSLS (annual membership: £25 waged/ £10 unwaged). Delegates will need to renew their memberships by 31st March to be assured timely digital access. Instructions on accessing the conference will be sent to members after this date.

It is very sad not to meet in person again this year, but we hope members will agree that we have an exciting conference to look forward to nevertheless! We hope to see you very soon – but don’t forget to join/renew by 31st March!

A reminder that a number of positions on the BSLS Executive Committee will be up for renewal in April: Chair, Treasurer, Secretary, Membership Secretary, Book Reviews Editor and Member at Large. (The role of Secretary is additionally now open to nominations.) The present Membership Secretary, Book Reviews Editor and Member at Large are seeking to continue in their roles, but all roles are open to nominations.
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 Greg Lynall ( and the Secretary Rachel Crossland ( Expressions of interest and proposals should be received by Tuesday 6th April at the very latest. The sections of the Constitution relevant to this process are appended below.
Rachel Crossland, Secretary
10 March 2021
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

Hosted by Sheffield, this online conference runs from 9am - 3pm, 19 May 2021. The registration deadline is 19 April. Full details are on the attached PDF.

Dear BSLS Members,

The Journal of Literature and Science 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. It's largely first come, first served, so do get in touch with an offer to review a specific article by emailing Michelle at

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: or contact me at to register your interest.


Donovan E. Tann, “Experimental Science and Speculation in Cavendish’s Convent of Pleasure.” Studies in English Literature 1500-1900 60. 3 (2020): 463-483.

Paul Giles, “‘By Degrees’: Jane Austen’s Chronometric Style of World Literature.” Nineteenth-Century Literature 75. 3 (2020): 265–293.

Barbara Barrow, “‘Shattering’ and ‘Violent’ Forces: Gender, Ecology, and Catastrophe in George Eliot’s The Mill on the Floss. Victoriographies 11. 1 (2021): 38-57.

Voskuil, “Victorian Plants: Cosmopolitan and Invasive.” Victorian Literature and Culture49. 1 (2021): 27-53.

Wells, “Proserpina Unbound: John Ruskin, Maria La Touche, and Victorian Floriculture.” Victorian Literature and Culture48. 4 (2020): 633-663.

Diana Rose Newby, “Bleak Environmentalism: The Science of Dickens's Weathered Bodies.” Texas Studies in Literature and Language 62. 2 (2020,): 178-202.

Rae X. Yan, “Robert Louis Stevenson as Philosophical Anatomist: The Body Snatcher.” English Literature in Transition, 1880-1920 62. 4 (2019): 458-481.

Nathaniel Otjen, “Energy Anxiety and Fossil Fuel Modernity in H.G. Wells's The War of the Worlds.” Journal of Modern Literature 43. 2 (2020): 118-133.

Caleb Fridell, “The Extractive Logic of Fossil Capital in H. G. Wells's Scientific Prophecy.” Modern Fiction Studies 66. 1 (2020): 164-189. 

Gregory Tate, “Evolution, Idealism, and Individualism in May Kendall's Comic Verse.” English Literature in Transition, 1880-1920 63. 3 (2020): 429-451. 

Richard Fallon, “Arthur Conan Doyle's The Lost World: Illustrating the Romance of Science.” English Literature in Transition 1880-1920 63. 2 (2020): 162-192

Lauren Cameron, “Infertility and Darwinian Anthropology in Anthony Trollope’s Phineas Novels.” Studies in English Literature 1500-1900 59. 4 (2019): 893-912. 

Michael Thomas Gaffney, “The Birth of the Ice Age: on Narrative and Climate History in the Nineteenth Century.” Nineteenth-Century Contexts 42. 5 (2020): 567-580.

Mark Celeste, “The “bond of the sea”: Conrad, Coal, and Entropy.” Nineteenth-Century Contexts 42. 5 (2020): 509-522.

Ida Marie Olsen, “Outlines of Ecological Consciousness in W. H. Hudson's Environmentalism.” English Literature in Transition, 1880-1920 63. 2 (2020): 193-210. 

Elspeth Green, “I. A. Richards Among the Scientists.” ELH 86. 3 (2019): 751-777. 

Paola Villa, “Mollusk-Writers: Spacetime Revolutions in a Literary Shell.” Journal of Modern Literature 43. 2 (2020): 21-40. 

Peter Balbert, “From Relativity to Paraphrenia in D.H. Lawrence's ‘The Man Who Loved Islands’: Speculations on Einstein, Freud, Gossamer Webs, and Seagulls.” Journal of Modern Literature 43. 2 (2020): 60-79. 

Justin Prystash, “Leaning from the Human: Virginia Woolf, Olaf Stapledon, and the Challenge of Behaviorism.” Configurations 28. 4 (2020): 433-457. 

Kevin Hart, “‘Nondescript Specimens’: Herbert Spencer's Social Theory in Ulysses.” James Joyce Quarterly 57. 3 (2020): 319-335..

Madeleine Chalmers, “Living as we Dream: Automatism and Automation from Surrealism to Stiegler.” Nottingham French Studies 59. 3 (2020): 368-383.

Yanfang Tong, “Memory as Imagination: Mind Science in Bellow's Short Fiction.” Interdisciplinary Literary Studies 22. 3 (2020): 240-261.

News reaches us of a research position which has become available at Lancaster. The deadline for applications is 15 March, pay £28,331-32,817pa. Full details here.

"You will have a PhD in Literature or History concentrating on the eighteenth and/or nineteenth centuries. Direct experience with eighteenth- and/or nineteenth-century manuscripts is desirable, as are publications on or in a field related to eighteenth- and/or nineteenth-century literature and/or science. Previous editorial experience, particularly previous work on a scholarly edition, would be an advantage as would previous experience on a Digital Humanities project especially one that has applied TEI (Text Encoding Initative) Guidelines. While experience with TEI would be an advantage, full training will be given in the role. There is a specific focus on contexts of slavery and colonialism in one part of the project, as well as more general links to the fields of literature and science and the history of science in the whole project. You will use social media to promote the project and find new audiences for the transcriptions."

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