Thursday, 7th April



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British Society for Literature and Science
Annual Conference 2016


Nicholson Rooms, University of Birmingham

Thursday, 7th April

12:00+ Arrival (nb. lunch is not provided)



12:50 Welcome

13:00 PLENARY – Sharon Ruston (Lancaster)

Using Letters in Literature and Science Studies: the Case of Humphry Davy”

14:00 PANELS 1

1A. Time and Space

  • Nina Lyon (Cardiff): “Mimesis, metaphysics and metamathematics in Carrollian satire and Flatland

  • Rebecka Klette (Birkbeck): “Invading History, History Invading: Evolutionary Time Travel and Atavistic Temporalities”

  • Wolfgang Funk (Johannes Gutenberg-Universität, Mainz): “Social Ethics and the Evolution of Mathematical Space: Writing on N-dimensional Spaces after Darwin”

1B. Ethics in Medicine

  • Anna Rasokat (Cologne): “JG Ballard's Translational Medicine and the Ethics of Care”

  • Jerome de Groot (Manchester): “Double Helix History: the use of DNA in Popular Genealogy”

  • Morven Cook (Hull): “Euthanasia Narratives”

1C. Mythology and the Empirical

  • Jimmy Packham (Birmingham): “Herman Melville and the ‘fossilifers stone’”

  • Felicity Powell (Sheffield): “Quantum Mythology: Violence, Religion, and Trickster Physics in the works of Ted Hughes”

  • Kanta Dihal (Oxford): “Science and Religion in Madeleine L’Engle’s A Wrinkle in Time and Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials

15:30 Break

16:00 PANELS 2

2A. The Occult

  • Lesley Gray (Kent): “On the thresholds of science: the art of storytelling in the mesmeric tales of Edgar Allan Poe”

  • Eleanor Dobson (Birmingham): “Through a Glass Darkly: Materialising Mummies in Fin-de-Siècle Literature, Photography and Film”

2B. Nerve Specialists

  • Melissa Dickson (Oxford): “Nineteenth-Century Nervous Systems and Cultural Fantasies of Adaptation”

  • Helen Goodman (Royal Holloway): “Symptoms of Stress and Self-Medication in the Nineteenth-Century Scientific Community”

2C. Textual Estrangement

  • Anna Sikora (National University of Galway): “Mad Science or the Future of Medicine? - nonfictional visions in John Wyndham’s science fiction”

  • Simon de Bourcier (Independent): “‘To Re-See, See Better, See Beyond’: Science as Estrangement in Lily King’s Euphoria and Karen Joy Fowler’s We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves.”



2D. In The Shadow of the Bomb

  • Jenni G. Halpin (Savannah State): “Rehearsing to Avoid the Performance in Terry Johnson’s Insignificance

  • Daniel Cordle (Nottingham Trent): “Burning Books: The Archive and Nuclear Culture in the Late Cold War”

2E. Neurology over Time

  • Darren N. Wagner (McGill): “Paradigm Shifts in Literature and Neuroscience, c. 1740–1818”

  • Natalie Riley (St. Andrews): “‘Who is to say where one begins and the other ends?’: Literature and the Neurosciences in Siri Hustvedt’s The Blazing World (2014)”

17:00 PANELS 3

3A. SLSAeu Roundtable: Conceptual Methodologies
Josie Gill (Bristol), Stefan Herbrechter (Coventry), Manuela Rossini (Basel), Johnny Golding (Birmingham City), Rosalind Powell (Bristol), Rachel Crossland (Chichester)

3B. Polymaths?

  • A. G. Tait (Independent): “‘The True Philosophy’ of Robert Hunt: Poet, Historian, Scientist”

  • Jordan Kistler (Birmingham): “Housing Literature, Art, and Science under one roof: the 19th century British Museum and the poetry of Arthur O’Shaughnessy”

  • Cristiano Turbil (Brighton): “Paolo Mantegazza and The Year 3000: Italian literature and science”

3C. Reading: Attention and Inattention

  • Shannon McBriar (Amsterdam University College): “’An alternation of flights and perchings’: Mind wandering and states of attention and rest in Virginia Woolf’s ‘Street Haunting’ and ‘The Mark on the Wall’”

  • Ben Morgan (Oxford): “Embodied Cognition and the Project of the Bildungsroman”

  • Naomi Rokotnitz (Tel-Aviv): “Goosebumps and Shivers: Visualisation, Projection and Embodied Resonance in the Reading Experience”

18:30 Close for day (informally arranged drinks/dinners)
Friday, 8th April

9:00 PANELS 4

(Panels in this session consist of short, informally-delivered papers followed by considerable discussion time.)



4A. Narrativizing Science

  • Nina Engelhardt (Edinburgh): “Bodies in Flight - Imagining the Flying Body and Writing Flights of Fancy”

  • Greg Lynall (Liverpool): “’Nothing wounds so much as Jest’: the power of mock-scientific English prose in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries”

  • Maria Avxentevskaya (Freie Universität Berlin): “Literary Techniques in the Futurology of Science”

4B. Interdisciplinary Methodologies

  • Zoë Lehmann Imfeld (Bern): “Fictionality Beyond Fiction”

  • Josie Gill (Bristol): “‘Literary Archaeology’: Exploring the Lived Environment of the Slave”

  • Emily Alder (Edinburgh Napier): “Sensing Knowledge: Edith Nesbit’s ‘The Three Drugs’ and ‘The Five Senses’”

4C. Teaching Literature and Science

Panel TBA



10:00 PANELS 5

5A. The Self in the Other

  • Matthew MacKisack (Exeter): “Ut Pictura Poesis Before and After Differential Psychology”

  • Michael Whitworth (Oxford): “Subatomic erotics: molecules and particles in late C20th and early C21st British poetry”

  • Barri Gold (Muhlenberg College): “Reading Ecologies, or, Musings on the Possible Contributions of Literary Studies to the Present Ecological Crisis”

5B. Astronomy

  • Nicky Atkins (Chichester): “Perfecting early scientific experience through literature: Sidereus Nuncius and The Man in the Moon

  • Kimberley B. Dimitriadis (Sydney): “The Eclipse and the Observer: Astronomy in George Eliot's The Mill on the Floss

  • Emanuela Ettorre (Chieti-Pescara): “Thomas Hardy, Astronomy and the Cosmologies of Fiction”

5C. Life of Breath

  • Peter Garratt (Durham): “Respiration and Inspiration: Breath in Fin de Siècle Aesthetics”

  • Arthur Rose (Durham): “Tim Winton's Pneumatic Materialism: Notes on Anoxia”

  • Naya Tsentourou (Exeter): “Hamlet’s Windy Suspiration of Forced Breath”

11:30 Break

11:45 Annual General Meeting of the BSLS

12:45 Lunch



13:20 PANELS 6

6A. Animals and Humans

  • Xiao Yizhi (Brown): “Vivisection and the Birth of the Victorian Mad Scientist”

  • Katherine Ford (Science Museum, London): “Islands of monstrosity: beasts, human and otherwise in adventure and science fiction at the fin de siècle”

  • Sally Blackburn (Liverpool): “Vernon Lee and Vivisection: A Mutilation of Morality”

6B. Pedagogies of Science

  • Sarah Hanks (Oxford): “‘But, master, […] tell me why that strange light of many tints shines upon the dark moon?’: Depictions of scientists and science teachers in the works of Robert Stawell Ball and Arabella Buckley”

  • Melanie Keene (Cambridge): “‘Begin with the girls’: narratives of science and education in juvenile periodicals, ca. 1860-1910”

  • Rachel Crossland (Chichester): “’Facts, not theories’: W. A. Shenstone, school laboratories and the Cornhill Magazine, 1903-1908'”

6C. Land Usage: The Politics of Urban and Rural Spaces

  • Kristine Kowalchuk (Northern Alberta Institute of Technology): “Overcoming Agricultural Amnesia: Learning from Seventeenth-Century Farming Manuals”

  • Matthew Holmes (Leeds): “Malthus’s Shallow Grave: The Population Bomb (1968) and British Agricultural Science ”

  • Ana Duarte Rodrigues (Lisbon): “Environmental issues in Portuguese literature and British scientific essays in the turn for the twentieth century”

15:00 ACTIVITY SESSION 1

You will have signed up for one of the following on Thursday:



16:10 ACTIVITY SESSION 2

Again, you will have signed up for a second of the above four options.



17:15 PLENARY – Harriet Ritvo (MIT)

“Species Problems”

18:15 Wine reception – Winterbourne House



19:15 Travel to conference dinner (only for delegates who have booked onto the dinner)
Saturday, 9th April

9:15 PANELS 7

7A. Scientific Travel

  • Martin Willis (Cardiff): “Medical Tourism in Victorian Edinburgh”

  • Anna Burton (Liverpool): “Reading ‘sylvan phenomena’: Uncovering the development of Picturesque and Geological discourses in The Woodlanders”

  • Antonio Raschi (CNR - Institute of Biometeorology, Firenze): “GO TO HELL! How Dante Alighieri met geothermy (and greenhouse effect) in his chthonian trip.”

7B. The State of the Novel

  • Anna Auguscik (Oldenburg) and Anton Kirchhofer (Oldenburg): “Canons and Critical Profiles of the Contemporary ‘Science Novel’: Perspectives on Genres, Markets and Media Presence”

  • Rachel Holland (Lancaster): “The Third Culture Novel: interactions between science and humanities culture in contemporary fiction, with close reference to Ian McEwan’s Saturday

  • Natalie Roxburgh (Siegen): “The Rise of the Pharmacological Novel?”

7C. Medicine and Gender

  • Neil MacFarlane (Birkbeck): “'A broad, squat, pursy, fat thing': Brutish Corpulence in Pamela (1740)”

  • Cybèle Arnaud (Maryland): “Is there a doctoresse in the house? The relationship between gender and medicine in Early Modern French theatre”

  • Rebecca Spear (Cardiff): “‘Doctoring and coddling’: Childcare and female neighbourhood in Jane Austen’s Emma

10:45 Break

11:00 PANELS 8

8A. Victorian Social Disease

  • Sally Shuttleworth (Oxford): “Diseases of Speculation in Victorian Fiction”

  • Andrew Mangham (Reading): “Natural Wastage: Social Problem Fiction and the Science of Decomposition”

  • Gavin Budge (Hertfordshire): “Fading Away: Consumption, Mysticism and Decadence in George Macdonald”

8B. Organising Information

  • Alison Adam (Sheffield Hallam): “Why did we ever imagine that Sherlock Holmes invented forensic science?”

  • Christina Alt (St. Andrews): “Making Ecology Modern: Discursive Experiments in Early Twentieth-Century British Ecology”

  • Gi Taek Ryoo (Chungbuk National University, Korea): “Ashbery's Poetics of Noise: Information Theory, Order and Chaos”

8C. Poetry: Ornament or Experiment?

  • Rosalind Powell (Bristol): “Alternative Spaces: creating natural philosophy through verse”

  • Marcin Leszczyński (Warsaw): “Scientific analogy in Polish and English romantic poetry”

  • Gregory Tate (St. Andrews): “Experimental Evidence: The Uses of Poetry in Victorian Science Communication”

12:30 PLENARY – Alice Roberts (Birmingham)

13:30 close





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