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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 Women in Science Research Network is holding a workshop at the Royal Society on 16th July on the use of archival research to identify women working in science from 1830 to the present. To see the full details of the workshop, with instructions on how to register, click here.


The next BSLS conference will be taking place in Cardiff by Cardiff University and the University of Westminster from Thursday 11th to Saturday 13th April. You can download a registration form and provisional programme here. For more details, including advice on travel and accommodation, please visit the conference website hosted by Cardiff University.

BSLS Conference 2013 Registration Form

BSLS 2013 Conference Panels

BSLS members are warmly invited to attend the Royal Society’s forthcoming lunchtime lecture series. Lectures are free and are held at the Royal Society. Further details of the lectures, and the full spring 2013 programme, can be found on the Royal Society’s events website royalsociety.org/events, but BSLS members may be particularly interested in the following talks:

Friday 1 March, 1pm

Dr Greg Lynall, University of Liverpool

Laputian Newtons: The Science and Politics of Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels

Gulliver’s Travels (1726) contains probably the most famous satire on science in world literature, but the circumstances behind its composition are little known. In this talk, Greg Lynall explains how Gulliver’s ‘Voyage to Laputa’ was shaped by Jonathan Swift’s animosity towards the Master of the Royal Mint, Sir Isaac Newton. What began as the airing of a personal and political grievance became an assault upon the foundations of scientific knowledge.


Friday 8 March, 1pm

Professor Felix Driver, Royal Holloway, University of London

Maritime science and the visual culture of exploration: the albums of a Victorian naval surgeon

Naval officers in general, and surgeons in particular, played a significant role in the development of maritime science, through their observations and their collections. This richly-illustrated talk explores the visual culture of maritime science, from coastal sketches to ethnographic observation. In particular, it looks at the albums of John Linton Palmer RN, a naval surgeon who served in the Pacific during the 1850s and 1860s. It considers the recording of topographic, antiquarian, ethnographic, microscopic and other sorts of data in the form of sketches in logbooks, diaries and journals; the assembling of such materials into personalised albums, part of a distinctive naval tradition; and the significance of these forms of visual heritage today both within Britain and overseas.


Friday 15 March, 1pm

Professor Claire Preston, University of Birmingham

‘Dark, clowdy, and impertinent’: Thomas Browne’s scientific language

[abstract forthcoming]


Friday 22 March, 1pm

Dr Sachiko Kusukawa, University of Cambridge

Unsung heroes: artistic contributors to the early Royal Society

This lecture discusses the contribution of draftsmen, engravers, artistic fellows and others whose graphic skills were indispensable for the meetings and publications of the early Royal Society (1660-1720). While some of the names of those who produced images for the Society will be familiar - Robert Hooke and William Faithorne, for example - the majority remains little known or appreciated. This lecture will show the rich variety of visual resources they generated for the Royal Society by drawing on material from the Royal Society Archives and elsewhere.


Friday 5 April, 1pm

Jenifer Glynn

My Sister Rosalind Franklin

Jenifer Glynn will discuss her new book, My Sister Rosalind Franklin. With the help of family letters and memories, this book puts Rosalind Franklin's DNA work in the context of her other achievements, and Rosalind herself in the context of her family. It shows her as a caring sister with a strong character and a passion for mountaineering, as well as a fine, thoughtful, meticulous and successful scientist.

Postgraduate Funding Opportunity

Silent Spring: Chemical, Biological and Technological Visions of the Post-1945 Environment

An AHRC collaborative skills project hosted by the Centre for Modern Studies, University of York and Birkbeck, University of London

A number of travel bursaries are available for postgraduates and early career researchers to participate in this project, which uses Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring to explore the relationship between arts and science research through two workshops in 2013.

Workshop 1

Friday 1st March 2013

Humanities Research Centre, University of York, BS/008

Deadline for Travel Bursary Applications: Monday 28th January 2013, 5:30pm


Workshop 2

June 2013 (date tbc)

Birkbeck, University of London


‘In this now universal contamination of the environment, chemicals are the sinister and little-recognised partners of radiation in changing the very nature of the world – the very nature of its life.’ – Rachel Carson, Silent Spring, 1962.

Rachel Carson’s classic polemic Silent Spring celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2012:  it still stands as one of the most influential texts on the damage caused to the natural environment by chemicals and nuclear fallout in the twentieth century. Taking Carson’s book as its starting point, this interdisciplinary post-graduate project aims to explore how a growing awareness of the biological, chemical and technological changes to the environment has shaped cultural explorations of nature and landscape in the post-1945 period, through visual art, literature and film. We will consider both how scientists have used images and texts to communicate their ideas to the public, and how artists have responded to, used, and resisted scientific developments in their work. Through two workshops at York and Birkbeck in 2013, we will start unpacking some of the complications inherent in the use of terms such as ‘nature’ and ‘environment’, and the associations embedded in them.

Workshop 1 at the University of York will provide an informal but stimulating forum for researchers and scholars from the humanities, social sciences and natural sciences to share work and ideas. Confirmed speakers include Dr Alice Bell (University of Sussex), Dr Fabienne Collignon (University of Sheffield), Dr Jo Applin (University of York) and Dr Isabella Streffen (University of Newcastle).

Thanks to generous support from the AHRC, we are able to offer a limited amount of travel bursaries for up to £50 (on provision of receipts) to post-graduate students and early career researchers for travel to and from each workshop. We welcome applications from students in any of the Humanities and Sciences, including Geography, Environmental Sciences, Chemistry, History of Science, English and Related Literatures, History, History of Art, Film and Theatre Studies, Fine Art and Sociology. We hope that this will be a lively day full of discussion, and invite participants to share a short, informal five-minute summary of their work in a final group discussion section. Students with an interest in interdisciplinary exchange, whose work focuses on the post-1945 period, and is funded by the AHRC, will receive priority.

To apply for a Travel Bursary for Workshop 1 in York, please send a copy of your CV together with a statement of up to 500 words on why you are interested in attending the workshop, and how your research intersects with its themes, to silentspring2013@gmail.com by Monday 28th January at 5:30pm. In your application, please state your institutional affiliation, and whether or not your research is funded by the AHRC. A separate application must be made for Workshop 2, deadline tbc. If you have any questions please don’t hesitate to contact the organisers at this address.

At the next BSLS conference, all five of the posts on the Executive Committee will be due for re-election, as the present incumbents have now served a three-year term of office. Any member of the society wishing to stand for election to the posts should let me know by 16 March 2009, and should also ask a nominator and seconder to email me to make the nomination. The present incumbents are eligible to stand for re-election. If there is more than one nomination for any given post, there will be an election held at the BSLS conference; should this be the case, I will ask candidates to provide a statement of no more than 200 words for circulation to members.

Further details of the posts are given below in the relevant extracts from the constitution. The constitution also makes provision for 3 member-at-large posts, at presently unfilled, and nominations for them would also be welcome. If you would like to make inquiries about the scope of any role please contact me or the current officer.

Michael Whitworth (Secretary)
Email: michael.whitworth@merton.ox.ac.uk

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.

BSLS members and readers of this website may be interested in SciTalk, a website facility run by Dr Ann Lingard and designed to offer "a way for scientists to communicate their expertise and their enthusiasm to writers, and a way for writers to find out about science and how scientists ‘work’ — through personal contact and meeting face-to-face, not just by email or phone."

The BSHS Annual Conference will take place at Stamford Hall, University of Leicester from 2 - 5 July 2009. The Programme Committee invites papers or sessions from historians of science, technology and medicine and their colleagues in the wider scholarly community on any theme, topic or period.

The Programme Committee welcomes proposals for sessions or individual papers 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.

Session proposals should normally consist of three or four papers, with or without a commentator. Sessions will be 90 minutes to 2 hours long. If you wish to depart from this rule or wish to submit a session of a different type, eg. round-table, witness seminar please discuss this with us in advance of the Call for Papers deadline.

Proposals for individual papers should include an abstract of no more than 250 words with no footnotes and comprehensible to a non-specialist audience.
Full details on how to submit your session proposal or individual abstract are available on the BSHS website.

The deadline for submitting a session or abstract is 23 January 2009.

Enquiries concerning this conference should be directed to bshsLeicester2009@bshs.org.uk

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People Power for the Third Millennium:Technology, Democracy and Human Rights

BioCentre is pleased to announce the fourth symposium of the series:
Arts & Technology: The Role of the Arts in Democratic Policy Making, Tuesday 14th October 2008 at the National Theatre, Southbank, 2-5pm, followed by drinks reception.

When it comes to developments in science and technology, public perceptions on these issues are influenced largely by the various sources in the public square including the media and the arts. When it comes to the particular issue of emerging technologies, developments in this field have been at best met with caution, at worst with a negative response. Yet where has the real conversation concerning these issues taken place?

Speakers include:

Science Museum and Tate Modern, London, 23-24 January 2009

On 7 May 1959, C. P. Snow delivered the Rede Lecture in Cambridge on the subject of The Two Cultures and the Scientific Revolution. A failed scientist and a moderately successful novelist, C. P. Snow drew on his experience as a Civil Service Commissioner to consider what seemed to him to be an increasing fissure between 'literary intellectuals' and 'natural scientists'. In part an attack on the perceived insularity, decadence and political sterility of the London literary scene, in part a complaint about the poverty of a humanities education and a demand for curriculum reform in schools and universities, the lecture was, most fundamentally, a critique of the lack of mutually intelligible exchange between the two cultures. As the 1950s drew to a close, Snow believed that only a national culture as aware of the importance of knowing the second law of thermodynamics as of knowing the plays of Shakespeare, would be fit to offer developing countries the scientific and technological solutions to poverty and deprivation that were so urgently required.

The London Consortium is bringing together the Science Museum and Tate Modern in a two-day conference to mark fifty years of the two cultures. Divided into a more specialised academic event and a more public occasion, it will consider the history of this debate, asking whether Snow's critique has been addressed by the increase in multi-disciplinary research, alongside the expansion of educational curricula and provision within science and the humanities. But in a world of increasing disciplinary specialisation in which there has been exponential growth of sub-disciplines in both science and the humanities, it will also ask whether the distinctions between and indeed within the two cultures might have become further entrenched. The most fundamental question this celebration of 50 years since Snow's lecture will ask, though, is how the terms of the debate may have changed.

We invite papers for a conference at the Science Museum on 23rd January 2009, that consider questions such as the following: How have new technologies such as the internet and new resources like Wikipedia reconfigured our sense of disciplinary boundaries, hierarchies of knowledge and the places where cultural capital is held? Has the new dominance within general culture of ideas drawn from the 'life sciences' ? molecular biology, genetics and biochemistry, ecology, epidemiology ? and their unpredictable pressings upon fundamental questions of how and why humans and other organisms should find themselves and their relationships defined in particular ways, led to an ever more complex and porous boundary between science and the humanities? How are Snow's notions of disciplinary and national cultures to be rethought through the paradigms and politics of globalisation?

Please send 200-word abstracts for papers (20 minutes maximum) by November 1st to Dr. Laura Salisbury, School of English and Humanities, Birkbeck, Malet Street, London WC1E 7HX or l.salisbury@bbk.ac.uk.


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