Other Organisations

Other organisations of interest to members of the BSLS

ELINAS Inaugural Conference on Physics and Literature: Theory – Popularization – Aestheticization in Erlangen, Germany, May 29th - June 1st

Can physics be poeticized? Is there a specific rhetoric to its language? Physics and literature appear to offer two diametrically opposed ways of viewing and representing the world. Yet in combination they have great potential for development. ELINAS, the Erlangen Research Center for Literature and Natural Science, is an interdisciplinary forum dedicated to the exchange of knowledge between physics and literature. Its field of inquiry includes both the significance of language and metaphors in physical research and the discursive and narrative processes in literary representations of natural scientific

Physics and Literature: Theory  – Popularization – Aestheticization, ELINAS' inaugural conference, will take place in Erlangen, Germany, from May 29th to June 1st. Invited speakers include scientists and humanities scholars as well as poets and novelists, amongst others Brian Schwartz (Physics, New York), Jay Labinger (Chemistry, California Insitute of Technology), Arkady Plotnitsky (English, Purdue), Dirk Vanderbeke (English, Jena), Susan M. Gaines (writer-in-residence, Fiction Meets Science, Bremen), and Durs Gruenbein (poet, Rome).

There is no conference fee. Registration is open until May 23rd.

For information on how to register, a full conference programme, and further information visit ELINAS' conference website.

The London Interdisciplinary Discussion Group will be meeting to discuss order and disorder at the Dana Centre at the Science Museum in London at 6.30 on 15th April. To read more about this event, and to book a ticket, visit their website.

Their next event will be on 'Blindness'. This will take place on 7th May 2014, featuring writer and theologian John Hull, neuroscientist Colin Blakemore, philosopher Ophelia Deroy and filmmakers James Spinney and Peter Middleton (who are currently making a film about John Hull’s experience of blindness).


Wireless: Oliver Lodge, Science, and Spiritualism

Royal Society, London, 24 April 2014

Registration now open

Oliver Lodge’s work in telecommunications arose from his life-long interest in the ether.  This workshop explores Lodge’s impact on late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century  telecommunications, particularly wireless telegraphy and radio, but situates this alongside his interest in more esoteric etheric phenomena.  Studying Lodge’s spiritualism provides a new way of understanding his physics, but also a way of approaching broader communication networks, occult or otherwise, of the period.

This one-day workshop features papers by Peter Bowler, Elizabeth Bruton, Christine Ferguson, David Hendy, Richard Noakes, and J. Patrick Wilson.

Registration is free but places are limited.  To register, email oliverlodgenetwork@gmail.com giving your name and any dietary requirements.

Further details (including the programme) are available here: http://www.oliverlodge.org/workshop-2-wireless/

The centre for Interdisciplinary Research into the Humanities and Science at the University of Reading is holding a one-day interdisciplinary workshop, funded by the British Academy, bringing together scholars working in the history of science with those working on literature and science. The workshop is aimed at PhD students, postdocs, and those in the early stages of their academic careers working in Literature and/or History with an interest in science.

The workshop will be held on Friday 14th March. It will explore the challenges (intellectual and practical) in developing historical and literary studies of science, and ask how early career scholars can present their work most effectively. Participants will:

  • compare methodologies and assumptions across disciplines, with a view to fostering more rounded and reflexive approaches to the study of science in culture in different time periods;
  • hear from established scholars about developing successful research projects and presenting historical and literary studies of science to a wider audience;
  • receive guidance on constructing interdisciplinary research bids; and
  • benefit from the opportunity to build mutually supportive networks with other early career scholars.

Confirmed speakers include Charlotte Sleigh (Kent), Neil Messer (Winchester), Martin Willis (Westminster), Peter Bowler (Queen's Belfast), David Stack (Reading) and John Holmes (Reading). There is no registration fee but places are limited and participants must register in advance. Early career delegates can also claim travel expenses up to £50.

Any enquiries should be directed to Professor David Stack at d.a.stack@reading.ac.uk. To download a registration form, click here:  BA Early Career workshop


Applications are now open for an AHRC Science in Culture Theme Ignite event to be held at the Natural History Museum on Wednesday 26th March 2014. The event is an opportunity for Early Career researchers and will showcase the best of interdisciplinary research across the Arts, Humanities and Sciences. Further information about the event, including a call for proposals, is available on http://www.sciculture.ac.uk/ignite2014/ and also as a pdf file here:

Science in Culture Ignite cfp

Victorian Sustainability

British Association for Victorian Studies conference 

University of Kent


September 4-6, 2014

Call for Papers

From emerging ideas about the perils of environmental degradation to the establishment of the National Trust, the concept of sustainability began to take on a new importance in the Victorian period that remains relevant in 21st-century modernity. We welcome proposals which address any aspect of Victorian sustainability and especially encourage interdisciplinary approaches.

Topics may include but are not limited to:

  • Victorian nature writing and/or discourses of nature and science
  • Heritage and preservation (of built environments, natural landscapes, species, material cultures)
  • Climate change and the Victorians
  • Sustenance and sustainability
  • Victorian discourses of emotional/psychological sustainability or wellbeing
  • Eco-criticism and environmental aesthetics in Victorian literature
  • Sustaining the Victorians (literary and/or cultural legacies)
  • ‘Green imperialism’ and/or colonial sustainability
  • The emergence of self-sufficiency and sustainable ways of life in the Victorian period
  • Waste/pollution vs. recycling/renewal in urban and industrial contexts
  • Narratives of catastrophe, risk, decay or crisis in the Victorian period
  • Representations of growth, flourishing and/or transformation in Victorian literature and culture
  • Social ecology and the relation between human and non-human in the Victorian period
  • Victorian pastoral and/or the legacy of Romanticism
  • The sustainability of Victorian Studies

Proposals (300 words max.) are due by March 31, 2014, and should be sent to kentbavs2014@gmail.com. Panel proposals (comprised of 3 paper proposals, plus an additional 300 words explaining how the papers are linked in addressing the theme) are also welcome.

The 2014 BAVS conference will be hosted by the new Centre for Victorian Literature and Culture at the University of Kent, Canterbury. Any inquiries about the Centre or the conference may be sent to the Centre Director, Professor Wendy Parkins at W.J.Parkins@kent.ac.uk.

SLSAeu, the European branch of the international Society for Literature, Science and the Arts, has recently been relaunched. Its executive office is now located at the English Department, University of Basel, Switzerland. To read more about the Society, please visit the website at:


You can also download a flier for SLSAeu, including details of their next conference, on the theme of Life, In Theory, to be held at Vercelli and Turin on 3-6 June 2014:


Call for Papers for the

Inaugural Conference of


(Erlangen Center for Literature and Natural Sciences)

at the Friedrich-Alexander-University Erlangen, Germany 29.05. – 01.06.2014

Physics and Literature: Theory – Popularization – Aestheticization

Physics, literature, and literary criticism are discourses of knowledge production which have drifted apart considerably in the course of the modern functional differentiation of social systems. At the same time, both discourses contribute to the comprehension and mastery of present and future problems, which invariably have both technological and cultural implications. Technologies and worldviews, shaped by physical knowledge, often acquire the status of central myths and determine human life worlds. Thus, they are of tremendous cultural relevance. The evaluation and assessment of their goals, limitations, and effects as well as of their inherent chances and risks is an ongoing process and cannot be negotiated within the necessarily narrow limits of physical discourse alone. At present more well-informed and highly reflective literary texts dealing with physical issues are being published than ever before. Employing dialogue and narration, they translate physical knowledge from mathematical-symbolic into verbal-polyvalent forms of representation and re-embed it in specific cultural contexts. This is why recent literary criticism and linguistic studies have therefore begun to investigate discursive and narrative modulations of physical theories both in literary texts and in scientific literature. Physics is itself becoming increasingly aware, both of the linguistic dimension of scientific communication and research and of the general cultural dimension of physical knowledge. The field has begun to reflect on both: on the epistemological importance of metaphor and on the communicative and cultural conditions determining the goals, priorities, and ethical limits of scientific research.

These points of intersection between physical and cultural practices constitute a research field recognized for its considerable importance and interdisciplinary potential. Unconventional avenues of communication between highly specialized expert discourses are necessary to advance research in this field. The analysis of concept formation in the natural sciences can profit from the competence of literary theory, while the analysis of the transformation of physical knowledge in literary texts needs to be complemented by a sound knowledge of physical theory. ELINAS provides a platform for this exchange. ELINAS is an Emerging-Field-Project of the Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen Nürnberg, which will be founded by the Faculty of Humanities, the Faculty of Sciences, the Faculty of Medicine, and the Faculty of Engineering through the Departments of Physics, Mathematics, Physiology, Material Sciences, as well as the Departments of German, English and American Studies.

The conference will focus on the hitherto only exemplarily researched history of the interrelations between physics and literature and concentrates on historically specific thematic fields. While during The Early Modern Period physics primarily discusses questions of movement and force, the 18th Century is dominated by debates on Newton’s mechanics and optics (up until Goethe’s Farbenlehre, 1810). The expansion of experimental investigations, coupled with technological progress, causes a shift towards chemical (C. Berthollet, A. Lavoisier) as well as thermal (T. Young, N. Carnot) and electro-magnetic phenomena (A. Volta, G. S. Ohm, M. Faraday, J. C. Maxwell) but also to astronomy, in particular in its popularized form (A. Clerke, S. Newcomb, J. Mädler). These also move to the foreground in the literature around 1800 (G. C. Lichtenberg, H. v. Kleist, E. T. A. Hoffmann, A. v. Arnim). – A century later, the reconceptualization of the relationship of space-time and energy/matter in Einstein’s special and general relativity theory, and the debate over the development of quantum-theory created epistemological problems, which are reflected in literature up until today, and which shape the structures of literary writing. The question of how, with the help of quantum-theory, knowledge and its relations to uncertain knowledge can be problematized and represented is central (H. Broch, D. Dath). A further focus in this context will be the interplay of natural-scientific and literary theory formation. One conference section will be reserved for the presentation of other literature and natural science initiatives, networks or institutions.

Abstracts: Please send your abstracts (400 words) to Aura Heydenreich (aura.heydenreich@fau.de). The abstracts should include the title and content of the paper, as well as your name, your research interests, a short bio/bibliography, email address, and postal address. The papers themselves should not exceed the time frame of 30 minutes. The deadline for submission is February 15, 2014. More information under: http://elinas.fau.de/

The BSHS Annual Conference will take place from Thursday 3 to Sunday 6 July 2014 at the University of St Andrews.

The Programme Committee now invites proposals for individual papers and for sessions from historians of science, technology and medicine, and from their colleagues in the wider scholarly community, on any theme, topic or period. Proposals are welcomed from researchers of all nationalities at all stages of their careers. Participation is in no way limited to members of the Society, although members will receive a discount on the registration fee. Offers of papers and sessions should be directed to bshs2014programme@bshs.org.uk, which is the address for all enquiries about the programme (see below for enquiries about local arrangements).

Proposals for individual papers should include an abstract of no more than 250 words, be comprehensible to a non-specialist audience, and avoid footnotes. Sessions, of either ninety minutes or two hours, should normally consist of three or four papers; they may also have a commentator. Proposals for alternative types of session, such as ‘round-tables’, are strongly encouraged. Please discuss your ideas for such alternative sessions well in advance of the submission deadline.

The deadline for proposals is 10 February 2014.

Further details on how to submit individual abstracts and session proposals will shortly be available on the BSHS website at http://www.bshs.org.uk/conferences/annual-conference/2014-StAndrews.


The 9th meeting of STEP (Science and Technology in the European Periphery) will be held in Lisbon, Portugal, 1-3 September 2014. It is organized by the Interuniversity Center for the History of Science and Technology (CIUHCT), a research centre associated with the Faculty of Sciences of the University of Lisbon and the Faculty of Sciences and Technology of the New University of Lisbon. To find out more about the conference and to read the call for papers, click here.

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