Society information

Contact details of the society and its officers

The BSLS is pleased to announce a new funding opportunity for postgraduate student members. The Postgraduate Conference Fund will offer two bursaries of £200 for BSLS postgraduate members toward the cost of presenting research papers at conferences (this excludes the BSLS annual conference, which has its own postgraduate bursary scheme). In addition to funding attendance at literature and science conferences, we would like to fund members who intend to give papers on literature and science at conferences which are not specifically focused on this topic, in order to promote the study of our field more widely.


To be eligible applicants must

  • Be a member of the BSLS
  • Be a current research student
  • Be presenting a paper at a conference


Eligible expenses include conference fees, travel and accommodation costs. Applicants must provide an outline of their research paper, justify why the funds are required (i.e. give a break-down of the budget) and state whether they have applied to any other funding sources (and the outcomes of those applications). You should also state why you think the particular conference you have chosen would be valuable, both for your own career and with regard to the wider objectives of the BSLS. Applications should be no longer than 500 words.


Successful applicants will be expected to write a short report on their paper and experience of the conference, which will be published on the BSLS website.


The deadline for applications is 15 January 2016. Decisions will be made by 28 February for conferences running from 1 March 2016.

Please send applications to Josie Gill (

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 British Society for Literature and Science and the Journal of Literature and Science would like to announce our annual prize for the best new essay by an early career scholar on a topic within the field of literature and science. The deadline for this year's prize will be 19th June, in order to give members time to revise papers presented at the BSLS conference should they wish to.

Essays should be currently unpublished and not under consideration by another journal. They should be between 6,000 and 8,000 words long, inclusive of references, and should be send by email to both John Holmes, Chair of the BSLS (, and Martin Willis, Editor of JLS (, by 12 noon on Friday, 19th June, 2015.

The prize is open to BSLS members who are postgraduate students or have completed a doctorate within three calendar years of the deadline date. The Prize committee will consider on a case by case basis whether to accept submissions from anyone whose doctorate was completed more than three years prior to the deadline but whose career has been interrupted during that time (due to illness, maternity leave, etc.). Those who have submitted to the essay prize in previous years are very welcome to submit again. This includes any previous prize winners or honourable mentions.

To join BSLS (only £10 for postgraduates and unwaged members), go to

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 JLS. The winner will also receive a prize of £100. The judges reserve the right not to award the prize should no essay of a high enough standard be submitted.

The winning essays to date have been Rachel Crossland’s ‘”Multitudinous and Minute”: Early Twentieth-Century Scientific, Literary and Psychological Representations of the Mass’, published in JLS, 6.2 (2013), and Emilie Taylor-Brown's ‘(Re)constructing the Knights of Science: Parasitologists and their Literary Imaginations’, published in JLS, 7.2 (2014). Josie Gill’s essay, ‘Science and Fiction in Zadie Smith’s White Teeth’ received an honourable mention from the judges and was published in JLS, 6.2 (2013). To read these essays, visit

The tenth annual conference of the British Society for Literature and Science will take place at the University of Liverpool, on 16-18 April 2015. Keynote talks will be given by Professor Keith Barnham (Imperial College London), Dr Patricia Fara (University of Cambridge), and Dr Claire Preston (Queen Mary University of London).

The BSLS invites proposals for twenty-minute papers, or panels of three papers, on any subjects within the field of literature and science. In addition, ‘flash talks’ of up to 7 minutes on any topic are invited for a special plenary session. Other formats are also welcomed, but please email your suggestion to the organisers (via for consideration, well in advance of the submission deadline.

This year the organisers would particularly welcome proposals addressing the themes of light, optics, vision and colour, and proposals for papers, panels or roundtables on engaging the public with literature and science research. However, the BSLS remains committed to supporting and showcasing work on all aspects of literature – including comparative literature and European and world literatures – and science, medicine and technology.

Proposals of no more than 250 words, together with the name and institutional affiliation of the speaker, and a biographical note of around 50 words, should be sent in the body of messages (not in attachments) to Proposals for panels should include a separate proposal and biographical note for each paper. The closing date for submissions is Friday 5 December 2014.

The conference fee will be waived for two graduate students in exchange for written reports on the conference, to be published in the BSLS Newsletter. If you are interested in being selected for one of these awards, please mention this when sending in your proposal. To qualify you will need to be registered for a postgraduate degree at the time of the conference.

Accommodation: please note that those attending the conference will need to make their own arrangements for accommodation. Information on local hotels will be made available soon on the forthcoming conference website.

Membership: conference delegates will need to register as members of the BSLS (annual membership: £25 waged/ £10 unwaged). It will be possible to join the BSLS when registering for the conference online.

For further information and updates about the conference, please contact Greg Lynall ( A conference website will be available in due course.

The BSLS has voted to hold an annual one-day symposium in addition to its annual conference. Unlike the conference, the symposium will be on a specific theme each year. The BSLS will make a budget of £500 available to members each year in the first instance to fund the symposium. The theme of each symposium will be announced after that year’s conference, and the symposium itself will be held in or near the following December.

BSLS members are invited to put in proposals to host the first BSLS symposium in December 2014 on the theme of Teaching Literature and Science. The theme is deliberately broad, so applicants are welcome to interpret it as they like, including focussing in on some aspect of it if they wish. Proposals should include:

  • a statement of up to 500 words setting out the rationale for the event and how it interprets the over-arching theme
  • contact details for the organiser(s)
  • the venue(s) and date of the symposium
  • a provisional programme including provisional or confirmed speakers and panels
  • a clear budget explaining how the grant will be spent.

A small registration fee may be set for the symposium if required; if it is, this should be justified in the proposal. The BSLS will be named as the official sponsor of the event, but it will not take on further financial liability beyond the grant itself.

Applicants must be members of the BSLS both when the application is made and when the symposium is held. International members of the BSLS are welcome to apply for the awards. Applications should be emailed as a Word document to the Chair of the BSLS, John Holmes ( by 14th July 2014. Applications will be considered by the BSLS Executive Committee. The award will be made to the application which the Committee judges as best fulfilling the overall aims of the BSLS and serving its members and the academic community as a whole. Successful applicants will be informed by the end of July. Queries about the scheme may be directed to John Holmes, but no correspondence will be entered into about the decisions of the Committee. Serving members of the BSLS Executive Committee are not eligible to apply for the grant. They may be included in the proposal for the symposium as participants, but they may not receive any of the award money either as costs or fees.

The BSLS executive has appointed two new international officers to sit on the executive committee. We are delighted to announce that Janine Rogers (Mount Allison University) and Folkert Degenring (Universität Kassel) have agreed to take up these new posts. Their role will be to promote the work of the BSLS in fostering research in the field of literature and science in North America and Europe respectively, and to help the BSLS to serve the needs of North American and European scholars in this field.

If you would like to contact either Janine or Folkert, you will find their details on the BSLS Contacts page.



We are delighted to announce that the next BSLS conference will take place at the University of Surrey in Guildford on 10-12 April 2014. The call for papers will be posted with more details at the beginning of September.

The BSLS AGM in Oxford on April 14th 2012 elected Dr John Holmes as Chair, Dr Daniel Cordle as Treasurer, Jessica Evans as Membership Secretary, Dr Stuart Robertson as Communications Officer, Prof. Sharon Ruston as a Member at Large, and Dr Peter Garratt as a Member at Large.

The Committee membership is now:

Dr John Holmes (University of Reading), Chair

Dr Daniel Cordle (Nottingham Trent University), Treasurer

Prof. Peter Middleton (University of Southampton), Secretary

Dr Stuart Robertson (Uppsala University), Communications Officer

Jessica Evans (University of Salford), Membership Secretary

Dr Vike Plock (University of Exeter), Member at Large

Prof. Sharon Ruston (University of Salford), Member at Large

Dr Peter Garratt (Northumbria University), Member at Large

BSLS Executive Committee posts

Several posts on the BSLS Executive Committee will either be vacant or up for renewal this April 2012: Chair, Treasurer, IT Officer, Membership Secretary, and two Members at Large. If you are interested in any of these posts and have questions please do contact us, or any member of the committee. The sections of the Constitution relevant to this process are appended below.

We already have expressions of interest for the posts of Chair, Treasurer, and one of the two posts of Member at Large. If others are nominated for the posts of Chair or Treasurer, or if there are more than two candidates for the member-at-large posts, there will be an election during the AGM.

We are also looking for a candidate for the post of Membership Secretary, and for one of the posts of Member at Large. We would be interested also to hear from anyone with a knowledge of websites and IT who might be interested in taking over the role of IT officer now or in the future.

Any member of BSLS is eligible for these posts and can propose themselves. Each proposed candidate will also need two nominations from members of BSLS, and these proposals and nominations should be sent to our current Chair, Michael Whitworth (, and myself, the Secretary (

Could any proposals be sent as soon as possible please, and ideally before April 2, 2012. This includes those who have expressed an interest.

Peter Middleton
26. 3. 12

4.1 There shall be an Honorary President, whose appointment is for an unlimited period.
4.2 There shall be an executive committee, consisting of: Chair; Secretary; Treasurer; Membership Secretary; Communications Officer; and not more than three Members at Large.
4.2.1 The role of the Chair is to oversee the fulfilment of the Society’s aims.
4.2.2 The role of the Secretary is to document meetings and other aspects of the Society’s activities, particularly to prepare minutes of Committee meetings and General Meetings, and to put them forward for approval.
4.2.3 The role of the Treasurer is to be signatory to the Society’s bank account(s); to present accounts for approval at the AGM.
4.2.4 The role of the Membership Secretary is to receive and process membership applications, to obtain fees from existing members, to pass on money to the Treasurer, and to maintain a membership database.
4.2.5 The role of the Communications Officer is to develop electronic resources; to manage and maintain an e-mail list, and to liaise with the Membership Secretary in relation to membership of the list.
4.3 Where it proves impossible to fill posts, one member may hold two, but no more than two posts.
4.4 Signatories for the society’s bank account(s) shall be the Treasurer and any other committee member.
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.

As announced at our AGM at the Reading Conference, none of the vacancies on the BSLS Executive was contested, and the following officers were elected unopposed:

Chair: Michael Whitworth (proposed by Sharon Ruston & John Holmes)
Secretary: Kelley Swain (proposed by John Holmes & Melanie Keene)
Treasurer: Dan Cordle (proposed by Jon Adams & Sharon Ruston)
Membership Secretary: Stella Pratt-Smith (proposed by Alice Jenkins & Michael Whitworth)
Communications Officer: Stuart Robertson (proposed by Michael Whitworth & Alice Jenkins)
Members at Large: John Holmes (proposed by Michael Whitworth & Alice Jenkins)
----- Melanie Keene (proposed by John Holmes & Katy Price)
[one Member-at-large post remains unfilled.]

Contact details are given on the BSLS website.

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