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The Commission on Science and Literature will be holding its third conference on 2nd-4th July 2018 in Paris. Click below for the updated call for papers (deadline 10th March), together with a list of hotels near the conference venue. Proposals for papers and panels on any aspect of the relationship between literature and science worldwide are welcome.

CoSciLit conference cfp

Scale of Nature: Long Nineteenth-Century Culture and the Great Chain of Being
One-Day Conference
Saturday 18 March 2017
Centre for Nineteenth-Century Studies and Centre for Visual Arts and Culture
CFP Deadline: Friday 25 November 2016
Durham University, UK
Keynote Address: Professor Peter Bowler (Queen’s University, Belfast)


Amongst the paradigms current in nineteenth-century culture the Great Chain of Being frequently held pride of place, vying against Darwinian approaches in what historian of science Peter Bowler described broadly as the ‘non-Darwinian revolution’. Arming scientists with a scale of nature - a fixed hierarchical arrangement of the natural world from the lowest rudimentary forms of life to its apogee in man – the Great Chain helped Victorian Britain reassert order and control in the face of perceived threats by the inherent randomness, chance and uncertainty of Darwin’s evolutionary theory. Paradoxically, in the battle between The Great Chain and Darwin, it was the Great Chain of Being that was frequently the fittest survivor. This one-day interdisciplinary conference examines this phenomenon, exploring Britain’s understanding of the Scale of Nature by investigating the Great Chain of Being in the context of the pre-, non- and post-Darwinian as well as Darwinian evolutionary culture in the long nineteenth century. It pays particular attention to visual representations of natural hierarchies.

We invite academic and institutional staff, postgraduates and other researchers to submit abstracts of 300 words for 20-minute individual papers, and 500 words for panels (three papers). Topics might include, but are not limited to:

• The history of The Great Chain as diversely and divergently reinterpreted by nineteenth-century figures
• Visual and spatial representations of The Great Chain of Being and competitor evolutionary ideas, as found in drawings, paintings, book illustration, cinema, photography, sculpture, architecture, museum design, exhibition and taxidermy spaces, and zoological gardens
• Implications for literary contexts, such as fiction, poetry, history and biography
• Its cultural influence in the arts more broadly, including evolutionary impacts in theatre, dance and music and other performance-related activities
Abstract Submission Information
Please send abstracts to Enya Doyle at by Friday 4 November 2016.
Confirmation of acceptances will be made by Friday 25 November 2016.

For more information, please contact Bennett Zon at or
Ludmilla Jordanova at


This year the Oxford University Museum of Natural History has been hosting a series of exhibitions, events and residencies under the theme Visions of Nature. In December, BSLS members John Holmes and Janine Rogers will be taking part in three public events at the museum as part of this celebration of art and poetry inspired by the natural world:

  • On 1st December (7-9 p.m.), John and Janine will be giving a joint talk entitled Building the Book of Nature, drawing on their research for their Canadian SSHRC-funded research project on natural history museum architecture. This talk will explore the architecture and art of the museum, including a guided tour and a pop-up exhibition of designs by John Ruskin, the Pre-Raphaelites and others.
  • On 7th December (6.30-8.30 p.m.), they will be joined by Stephen Wildman, Director of the Ruskin Library and Research Centre, together with researchers and teachers from Oxford, to discuss how science and art have worked together in visualising nature throughout the ages.
  • Finally, on 12th December (7-9 p.m.), John will be joining the museum’s three poets-in-residence, John Barnie, Steven Matthews and Kelley Swain (one-time BSLS Secretary), to launch a new anthology of poems inspired by and connected with the museum, entitled Guests of Time.

All three events are free and open to all. If you would like to reserve seats in advance, please click here.

The Commission on Science and Literature organized two events in the past summer. The workshop 'Nature, Humans and God(s)' was held on the island of Syros in Greece on 8-9 July. The 2nd International Conference on Science and Literature was held at Echophysics in Poellau, Austria, on 7-9 September. The proceedings of both meetings are to be published. In particular, the proceedings of the 2nd International Conference on Science and Literature will be published by Living Editions, Austria.

We have decided that the Syros workshop should be the first of a series of seminars, each of which will have its own theme, to take place in the first week of July each year. The 2nd Syros workshop, which will have as its subject Beyond Nature in Science and Literature, will be held from 3-5 July 2017. Though relatively early, proposals for this Workshop are welcome. Our emails can be found on the contacts page of the CoSciLit website.

The 3rd International Conference on Science and Literature will take place in 2018, place and dates to be decided.

We would like also to remind you that we will be holding a symposium at the 25th International Congress of History of Science and Technology, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, from 23 to 29 July 2017. The deadline for abstracts is 5th November 2017.

Please send abstracts for the Rio Congress and proposals and enquiries regarding the 2nd Syros workshop to


George Vlahakis, John Holmes and Kostas Tampakis

This term there will be two seminars on Science, Medicine and Culture in the Nineteenth Century at Oxford:

Wednesday 19 October
Dr Andrew Mangham, University of Reading
'Have ye ever seen a child clemmed to death?': Elizabeth Gaskell and the Physiology of Starvation
5.30 – 7.00, Seminar Room 3, St Anne’s College
Wednesday 9 November 2016 (Week 5)
Dr kitt price, Queen Mary, University of London
Psychic Dreams and Newspapers in the Late Nineteenth Century
5.30 - 7.00, Seminar Room 5, St Anne’s College

To read more details of the speakers, the series and the Diseases of Modern Life project, click here.

The Central European University in Budapest is holding its annual Summer University for graduate students, junior or post-doctoral researchers, teachers and professionals on the theme of Cities and Science: Urban History and the History of Science in the Study of Early Modern and Modern Europe. The course will take place on 18-27 July 2016, and the application deadline is 14 February. For more information, download the flyer by clicking on the link below:

Cities & Science flyer 2016

Texts and contexts: the cultural legacies of Ada Lovelace

An interdisciplinary workshop

Tuesday 8 December, 10am-6pm (arrivals from 9.30am)

Rooms L4 and L5, Mathematics Institute, University of Oxford

Attendance is free, registration required


In 2015 the University of Oxford is hosting a number of events to mark 200 years since the birth of mathematician and computer pioneer, Ada Lovelace (1815-1852). As part of these celebrations, this interdisciplinary one-day workshop will bring together postgraduates and early career researchers in literature, history, maths and computing, and anyone with interests in Lovelace, in order to discuss the cultural influence of her work from the nineteenth century to the present day.


We look forward to hearing a wide range of papers on subjects including Lovelace and LEGO, Lovelace’s poetic imagination, and the role that Lovelace can play in teaching computing to primary school children. Our keynote address, ‘Literature, science and medicine in the early nineteenth century’, will be delivered by Professor Sharon Ruston (Lancaster University). Professor Ruston will also take part in an expert panel, alongside biographer Professor Richard Holmes (Falling Upwards; The Age of Wonder), graphic novelist Sydney Padua (The Thrilling Adventures of Lovelace and Babbage), and novelist and critic Miranda Seymour (In My Father’s House).


Attendance at the workshop is completely free, although you must register in advance. Visit and follow the registration link. Registration closes on Sunday 29 November.


As well as the workshop, a two-day symposium “Ada Lovelace: celebrating 200 years of a computer visionary” will take place on Wednesday 9 and Thursday 10 December, also at the Maths Institute. Thanks to the generosity of the symposium sponsors, there are a number of funded student places available for the symposium. Anyone wishing to apply for one of these places should contact


For more information on the workshop, a full timetable and list of abstracts, visit, and for the main symposium go to Email us at

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The University of Roehampton will be holding a colloquium on Erasmus and Charles Darwin on Friday 4th September. To see the full programme and to register, click here. There is a discount on the registration fee for members of the BSLS.

'The Diseases, Health Risks and Phobias of Modern and Fashionable Living: Victorian Perspectives'

A Workshop funded by the Leverhulme Trust

Friday, 8 May 2015, 4.00 - 6.30pm
Room 3.38 ARMB (Armstrong Building), Newcastle University

Professor Sally Shuttleworth (University of Oxford), ‘Fears and Phobias in Victorian Culture’.
Dr Melissa Dickson (University of Oxford) ‘Weak Nerves and Fashionable Women in Victorian Literature and Culture’
Dr Jennifer Wallis (University of Oxford) ‘ “Overheated apartments, balls, tea-parties, and feather beds”: The Risks of Nineteenth-century Fashionable Society’

Sally Shuttleworth, is Professor in the Faculty of English Language and Literature, St Anne’s College, University of Oxford, and PI of the ERC funded ‘Diseases of Modern Life: Nineteenth-Century Perspectives’, a five-year interdisciplinary research project based at St Anne's. Dr Melissa Dickson is a Postdoctoral Research Assistant on the ‘Diseases of Modern Life’ project, and focuses upon those diseases and pathologies derived from the Victorian soundscape and new understandings of the auditory experience, as well as on diseases of overpressure relating to education, nervous disorders and phobias. Dr Jennifer Wallis is a Postdoctoral Research Assistant on the ‘ Diseases of Modern Life’ project, and focuses on climate and health, and addiction in the nineteenth century. She is especially interested in how air was used in nineteenth-century medical technologies – from compressed-air baths to respirators – and how such technologies could alter the individual’s relationship with their external environment.

This workshop is organised by the ‘Fashionable Diseases: Medicine, Literature and Culture, ca. 1660-1832’ project team, a collaboration between colleagues in History of Medicine at Newcastle University and English Literature at Northumbria University.

All welcome.



Following the successful 1st International Conference on Science and Literature, that took place in Athens last year, the International Commission on Science and Literature is happy to announce the Summer School on Science and Literature, which will be held in the Greek island of Andros, from the 22nd to the 26th of June 2015.
The Summer School will be of especial interest to graduate students and early-career researchers working on literature, the sciences and the history of science. It will offer the opportunity for an in-depth presentation and discussion of themes relevant to Science and Literature at large. Each day, a lecture will be given on a specific point of intersection between science and literature. Participants will then work in small groups and prepare their own views on the subject, and discuss how it pertains to their own research. Participants will also have the opportunity to present short papers on their research or on subjects they want to discuss and receive feedback on. Finally, a round table will be organized discussing the future of Science and Literature as an academic field and its possible application in scientific and literary education. The language of the Summer School will be English but there will be an opportunity for presentations in French, German and Greek if there is a relevant interest.
Dr. John Holmes, Chair of the British Society for Literature and Science, Prof. Manuela Rossini, President of the Society for Literature, Science and the Arts (Europe), Prof. Paola Spinozzi, University of Ferrara, and Prof. Constantin Canavas, Hamburg Technical University, have already confirmed their participation as invited speakers.
Andros island is a picturesque island on the Aegean Sea, about two hours from Attica (Rafina harbor), with several ferries during the day. There is a also a convenient connection between Athens airport and Rafina harbor.
For an overview of Andros island visit
The venue of the summer school will be Pighi Sariza Hotel (, with several nice beaches a short distance from the hotel. Participants will have also the chance to participate in several cultural events including visits to the famous Goulandri Museum of Modern Art and the Kaireios Library in Chora, the capital of Andros. The cost of the accommodation will be around 50 euros per day (breakfast, lunch and dinner included). There will also be a registration fee of 140 Euros. Support for a number of young scholars will be provided by a DHST/IUHPST grant.
Those who are interested to participate are invited to send an email to and/or by May 20, 2015.

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