BSLS 2014 programme

British Society for Literature and Science

2014 Conference Programme


10 April


Registration: 11.00-12.50


Welcome: 12.50-13.00 (Lecture Theatre M)


First Plenary Session: 13.00-14.00 (Lecture Theatre M)

Jim Al-Khalili (University of Surrey) – “Science and Rationalism in Medieval Arabic Texts”


Panel Session One: 14.00-15.30


Panel 1 – The Poetry and Fiction of Scientists (Lecture Theatre B)

Daniel Brown (University of Southampton) – “Mary Somerville as Model ‘Scientist’ and Poetic Muse”

Annja Neumann (University of Cambridge) – “A Love Affair with Science: A Poetic Dialogue between Edgar Allan Poe and John Herschel”

Pascal Nouvel (Université Paul Valéry, Montpelier) – “Chemistry between Science and Literature”


Panel 2 – Sensation and Science in Victorian Fiction (Lecture Theatre H)

Emanuela Ettorre (Università Degli Studi G. d’Annunzio, Chieti-Pescara) – “Contemplating Pain: Science and Sensationalism in Wilkie Collins’s Heart and Science

Jonathan Potter (University of Leicester) – “‘How do You Account for it?’: Sir Edward Bulwer-Lytton’s A Strange Story (1862) and the Dissemination of Science in the Popular Press”

Kalika Sands (University of Oxford) – “The Problems of Passion: Brain Fever and Environment in Nineteenth-Century Literature and Culture”


Panel 3 – Narratives and Images of Medicine (Lecture Theatre J)

Angela Kennedy (Open University) – “Psychogenic Explanations for Physical Illnesses in Literature and Medicine: An Unfortunate Case of Seduction”

Emilie Taylor-Brown (University of Warwick) – “(Re)Constructing the Knights of Science: Parasitologists and their Literary Imaginations”

Corinna Wagner (University of Exeter) – “Artists, Anatomists, and the Transparent Body”


Coffee and Tea: 15.30-16.00


Panel Session Two: 16.00-17.30


Panel 4 – Reading with Dinosaurs (Lecture Theatre B)

Katherine Ford (University of Reading) – “Drawing Dinosaurs: Descriptions and Images of Prehistory in Nineteenth-Century Scientific and Popular Literature”

Melanie Keene (University of Cambridge) – “Dinosaurs Don’t Die: the Crystal Palace Monsters in Children’s Literature, 1854-2001”

Will Tattersdill (University of Birmingham) – “The Life and Times of the Megalosaurus: Prehistoric Monsters, Popular Culture, and the Temporal Relation of Fact and Fiction”


Panel 5 – The Sound of Science (Lecture Theatre H)

Peter Garratt (Durham University) – “Dickens and Hallucination”

Sarah Hanks (University of Oxford) – “From Podium to Page: Scientific Speech and Textual Performance in the Mid-to-Late Nineteenth Century”

Verity Hunt (University of Southampton) – “‘A Book to Read with the Eyes Shut’:  Reading Nineteenth-Century Audio Books in the Short Stories of Edward Bellamy and Octave Uzanne”


Panel 6 – The Place of Medicine (Lecture Theatre J)

Vanessa Costa e Silva Schmitt (University of Geneva) – “Dr Benassis and his Sanitarian Work as a Country Doctor and Mayor in Balzac’s Le Médecin de Campagne

Ally Crockford (University of Edinburgh) – “Dissecting Edinburgh: Literature and Medicine in the Scottish Capital”

Laurence Davies (University of Glasgow) – “‘Public Health . . . It’s the Emerging Field’: Epidemics in Barrett, Giono, and Haggard”


Panel 7 – Twentieth-Century Poetry and Science (Lecture Theatre M)

Peter Middleton (University of Southampton) – “Which Science, Which Literature? Tracing the Impact of the Social Sciences on Postwar Poetry”

Fathi Nasaif (University of Reading) – “Literature and Science in Muriel Rukeyser’s Writings”

Gi Taek Ryoo (Chungbuk National University) – “T. S. Eliot: Entropy and the Arrow of Time”


Panel Session Three: 17.30-19.00


Panel 8 – Medieval Science (Lecture Theatre B)

Neelam Hussain (University of Birmingham) – “Secretum Secretorum: The Secrets of Statecraft and Science”

Carl Kears (King’s College London) and James Paz (University of Leeds) – “The Old English Letter of Alexander to Aristotle: An Early Science Fiction?”

Janine Rogers (Mount Allison University) – “Reading the Redpath: The Medieval Poetics of a Victorian Natural History Museum”


Panel 9 – Nineteenth-Century Poetry and Science (Lecture Theatre H)

Alison Cardinale (University of Sydney) – “Coleridge and Romanticism after Heisenberg”

Wolfgang Funk (Leibniz University, Hanover) – “‘Fitness for a Freedom Yet to Be’: Evolution, Mutual Aid and Emancipation in the Work of Louisa Sarah Bevington”

John Holmes (University of Reading) – “William Morris, Materialism and Empiricism: Reading The Earthly Paradise in the Light of Science”


Panel 10 – Science and Temporality (Lecture Theatre J)

Irmtraud Huber (University of Berne) – “On the Limits of Greenwich Mean Time, or The Failure of a Modernist Revolution”

Courtney Salvey (University of Kent) – “Technology, Time, and Genre: Early Nineteenth-Century Histories of Inventions”

Elodie Rousselot (University of Portsmouth) – “Experimenting with the Past in Contemporary Neo-Victorian Fiction”


Panel 11 – Defining Literature and Science (Lecture Theatre M)

Eleanor Sandry (Curtin University) – “Minding the Gap: Creating New Knowledge by Respecting Disciplinary Difference”

Charlotte Sleigh (University of Kent) – “NICE or Nasty? Science in the Fiction and Theology of C. S. Lewis”

Martin Willis (University of Westminster) – “Before Beer and After the Financial Crisis”


Conference Dinner: 19.00 (Hillside Restaurant)


11 April


Panel Session Four: 9.00-10.30


Panel 12 – Seeing Things: Aspects of Perception in Science and Literature (Lecture Theatre B)

Will Abberley (University of Oxford) – “Jungle Deceptions: Seeing Natural Mimicry in Victorian Scientific Travel Narratives”

Franziska Kohlt (University of Oxford) – “‘How Slight the Line, if Line There Be’: Visual Perception and (Un-)reality in Victorian Psychology and Literature”

Laura Ludtke (University of Oxford) – “Sophrosyne and Artificial Light in Surveillance Fiction of the Early Twentieth Century”


Panel 13 – Other Worlds (Lecture Theatre H)

Simon de Bourcier (Independent Scholar) – “Possible Worlds and Environmental Scenarios: The Case of Flight Behaviour

Barri J. Gold (Muhlenberg College) – “The War of the Worlds: New Perspectives on Resource Management”

Yi-Chun Liu (University of Kent) – “A Moral Response to Science: Utopian Representations in the New Atlantis and the New Story of the Stone


Panel 14 – Neuronarratives (Lecture Theatre J)

Anna Auguscik and Anton Kirchhofer (University of Oldenburg) – “Neuroscience, Anxiety and Meta-Narrative in Recent British Neuronovels: David Lodge’s Thinks… and Ian McEwan’s Saturday

Angus Fletcher (Ohio State University) – “Against Mind-Reading: A New Cognitive Model of the Ethical Function of Novels”

Natalie Roxburgh (University of Oldenburg) – “Richard Powers’s Anxious Neuroscientists”


Panel 15 – Science, Politics, and Education (Lecture Theatre M)

Carina Bartleet (Oxford Brookes University) – “The Empty Space is not (a)void: Scottish Theatre and the Space Race”

Daniel Cordle (Nottingham Trent University) – “‘Brothers [and Sisters] in the Land’: 1980s Nuclear Fiction for Children and Young Adults”

Jenni Halpin (Savannah State University) – “‘Time to Consider’: Educating the Deciders with the ‘Pilot Lights of the Apocalypse’”


Coffee and Tea: 10.30-11.00


Panel Session Five: 11.00-12.00


Panel 16 – Fiction and Physics (Lecture Theatre B)

Garfield Benjamin (University of Wolverhampton) – “Quantum Horrors: Dangerous Consciousness in the Work of Greg Egan and Charles Stross”

Tania Hershman (Bath Spa University) – “Particle Physics and Particle Fiction”


Panel 17 – Botany and Horticulture (Lecture Theatre H)

Carina Lidström (University of Örebro) – “Grasping the Nature of Nature: The Use of Literary Modes in the Linnean tradition”

Yue Zhuang (University of Exeter) – “Upon the Gardens of Epicurus (1685): Sir William Temple, China and European Vitalist Science”


Panel 18 – Sciences of the Mind (Lecture Theatre J)

Joanna Malicka (Kazimierz Wielki University, Bydgoszcz) – “Embodying the Mind in Christine Brooke-Rose’s Life, End of

Maren Scheurer (Goethe University, Frankfurt) – “Magicians and Mechanics of Souls: Psychoanalysis as Beleaguered Science in Contemporary Literature”


Panel 19 – Biology, Heredity, and the Novel (Lecture Theatre M)

Allegra Hartley (University of Huddersfield) – “Beyond Man: Evolution and Progeneracy in H. G. Wells’ The Invisible Man

Niall Sreenan (University College London) – “The Blinding Spray of Darkness: Perception, Sensation, and Affectivity in the work of Émile Zola and Jakob Von Uexküll”


Lunch and Teaching Workshop: 12.00-13.30


Panel Session Six: 13.30-15.00


Panel 20 – Light Pollution and Green Technologies (Lecture Theatre B)

Folkert Degenring (University of Kassel) – “‘On Behalf of Darkness’: Functionalizations of Light Pollution in Literature”

Greg Lynall (University of Liverpool) – “The Freedom of the Solar Cell: Technologies of the Sun across the Twentieth and Twenty-First Centuries”

Elizabeth Robertson (Queen Mary, University of London) – “Dead Batteries: Scientific and Technological Failure in the Work of Stephen Poliakoff”


Panel 21 – Ingestion and Intoxication (Lecture Theatre H)

Kate Gazzard (University of Reading) – “The Surgeon as Detective: Dickens, Detection and the Toxicologist”

Neil MacFarlane (Independent Scholar) – “The ‘Indescribable Lightness’ of Steerforth: Nutritive-Bodily Allusions to Shelley in David Copperfield”

Paul Vlitos (University of Surrey) – “‘Ill-Adjusted Units’: H.G. Wells and Autointoxication Theory”


Panel 22 – The Science of Poetry (Lecture Theatre J)

Catherine Charlwood (University of Warwick) – “Culture and Cognition: Expectancy Patterns within Verse”

Laurel Kornhiser (Quincy College) – “Bishop, Neruda, Darwin, and Dasein”

Wenchi Li (University of Edinburgh) – “Poems on the World of Ideas: Botanic, Astrological and Physical Imagery in Yang Mu’s Works”


Panel 23 – Science and the Supernatural (Lecture Theatre M)

Eleanor Dobson (University of Birmingham) – “‘The Most Magical of Mirrors’: Oscar Wilde and the Spirit Photograph”

Helena Ifill (University of Sheffield) – “Defining Science, Pseudoscience and the Supernatural in Popular Fiction: The Case of Mesmerism”

George N. Vlahakis (Hellenic Open University) – “Mesmerism in Nineteenth-Century Greek Literature”


Coffee and Tea: 15.00-15.30


Panel Session Seven: 15.30-16.30


Panel 24 – Literary Theory and the Science of Criticism (Lecture Theatre B)

Robert Daly (University of Oxford) – “‘Not Regular Evolution but a Leap’: Russian Formalism and Evolutionary Biology”

Michael Wainwright (Royal Holloway, University of London) – “Deadlock as Creative Impulse in Mark Twain’s ‘Those Extraordinary Twins’ and Adventures of Huckleberry Finn


Panel 25 – Representing Animals (Lecture Theatre H)

Emily Alder (Edinburgh Napier University) – “Here be Monsters: (Re)Encountering Animals in Edwardian Popular Fiction”

Candice Allmark-Kent (University of Exeter) – “Nature Fakers: Animal Psychology and the ‘Realistic’ Wild Animal Story”


Panel 26 – Victorian Sexual Science (Lecture Theatre J)

Sarah Bull (Simon Fraser University) – “Cross Reading, Cross Influence, and the Traffic in Sexual Science through the Nineteenth-Century Pornography Trade”

Royce Mahawatte (University of the Arts London) – “The Literary Effects of R. J. Culverwell’s Sexological Writing”


Panel 27 – Geological Forms (Lecture Theatre M)

Adelene Buckland (King’s College London) – “Regency Science Underground: Charles Lyell, Humphry Davy, and the Things They Could Not See”

Kristen Tapson (New York University) – “‘My Lab, it’s Me’: Clark Coolidge, Scientific American


Second Plenary Session: 16.30-17.30 (Lecture Theatre M)

Mary Orr (University of Southampton) – “Natural Science Fictions and Factions? The Remarkable Showcase of Sarah Bowdich (Lee)’s International Literatures of Science Before 1859”


12 April


Panel Session Eight: 9.00-10.30


Panel 28 – Science Enskied (Lecture Theatre B)

Cybèle Arnaud (University of Maryland) – “Stars on Stage: Laughter and Astronomy in French Comedic Theatre from 1635 to 1655”

Penny Newell (King’s College London) – “A Philosophy Forming and Tearing: Nietzsche’s Clouds”

Michael H. Whitworth (University of Oxford) – “Ether and its Metaphors”


Panel 29 – Medical Ethics and Identities (Lecture Theatre H)

Julia Boll (University of Konstanz) – “‘Only before the Cut, They Imagine We Imagined Them’: The Question of Ethics in Contemporary Literature on Science”

Chisomo Kalinga (King’s College London) – “HIV/AIDS and Narratives of Occultism in Post-Democracy Malawi and South African Literature”

Lena Wånggren (University of Edinburgh) – “An ‘Uninteresting Hybrid’: Locating the Scottish New Woman Doctor”


Panel 30 – Science and Periodicals (Lecture Theatre J)

Jennifer Cole (University of Oxford) – “Biology and Anthropology in The Crisis under the Editorship of W. E. B. Du Bois”

Rachel Crossland (King’s College London) – “‘A Review of Science and Literature’: Desmond MacCarthy’s New Quarterly, 1907-1910”

Erika Wolf (University of Bergen) – “Looking for a Language: Artists and Writers Visiting Factories in Civiltà delle macchine


Coffee and Tea: 10.30-11.00


Third Plenary Session: 11.00-12.00 (Lecture Theatre M)

Bernard Lightman (York University, Toronto) – “Conan Doyle’s Ideal Reasoner: The Case of the Reluctant Scientific Naturalist”


Lunch and Annual General Meeting: 12.00-13.00


Trip to Down House: 13.00-18.30