Monday, April 23, 2018

Workshop: Artisans of the Surface in Early Modern Europe, 1450-1750

King's College London, 20-21 September 2018
Deadline: 8 Jun 2018

This workshop focuses on the practices of a range of artisans (tailors, barbers, cooks, cheesemakers, gardeners, and agronomists) and their relationships with the fields of meteorology, botany, natural history, medicine, earth sciences, and veterinary medicine. These artisans andtheir practices shared a set of skills related to the observation and manipulation of human and non-human surfaces. We will explore how, and if, practical knowledge about the surface of things and bodies (and their storage and preservation in relation to specific environmental conditions) led to the concept of nature and matter as composed of layers, and how such a framework contributed to the demise of traditional Galenic and Aristotelian views on nature.

This workshop also aims at getting past the dichotomies between quantitative and qualitative knowledge and between natural philosophy and the arts, and so we intend to broaden the focus to include a set of artisans who have traditionally remained invisible from accounts of this 'age of the new'. We will explore the many different ways in which 'modern science' emerged, the relationships between social and cognitive practices, and the contribution that non-mathematical sciences gave to the mental habits of observing, collecting, experimenting with, and manipulating natural matter.

We welcome proposals, in particular, that address the relationships between gardening, natural history, and medicine; cooking and knowledge; work on animal skin; leatherwork; or veterinary medicine. Proposals (up to 250 words) for 20-minute papers should be sent to PaoloSavoia by 8 June 2018.

For further details, visit our website.

Monday, April 16, 2018

Andrea Wulf - 'The Invention of Nature', Science Museum, 30 May

Every two years, the British Society for the History of Science (BSHS) awards its Dingle prize for the best popular book on scientific history. This year's winner is Andrea Wulf, who has written a wonderful book about Alexander von Humboldt, The Invention of Nature. Although she rarely accepts speaking invitations, she has generously agreed to lecture at the Science Museum for one of their Lates evenings on Wednesday 30 May from 7.30 to 8.30. Book here.

Song Seminar Wednesday 25 April, 12.30-2.00: Ewan Jones on Entrainment and Aesthetics

The first of two Interdisciplinary Song seminars this term will be held on Weds 25 April, in the Harrods Room of Emmanuel College, from 12.30 to 2.00.

Ewan Jones will present a paper entitled 'What entrainment can teach aesthetics'. Description: This paper will explore the ethnomusicological and biological concept of entrainment, which explores the tendency for organisms to synchronise their endogenous rhythms to external periods or phases. Under its aspect, I will consider eighteenth- and nineteenth-century texts ranging that include Adam Smith, Charles Dickens and George Eliot. Some of these texts feature songs. 

As usual, tea, coffee and biscuits will be provided, and participants are encouraged to bring their own lunch should they wish. All are warmly welcome

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Easter Term 2018 - Aether (take 2)

The Science and Literature Reading Group will hold two sessions which were postponed from last term due to industrial action. We first complete our explorations of the aether by looking at the theme of communication, across and beyond the globe. We will then celebrate the end of our elements series with a found poetry workshop using all of the texts we have read and discussed over the previous two academic years.

All are welcome to join in our wide-ranging and friendly conversations, which take place at Darwin College on selected Monday evenings from 7.30–9pm. The group is organised by Melanie Keene and Charissa Varma.

For recaps, further readings, news, and other updates, please follow us on Twitter @scilitreadgrp or check this blog.

14th May – Communication


4th June – End of year party and Elementary Poetry workshop

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Event - Subjective Sciences

A Workshop on Practices of Taste & Connoisseurship in Early Modern Europe: UCL, 4th May 2018

This one-day workshop explores the role of ‘subjective’ practices in the early modern sciences. We are interested in the epistemic dimension of judgments that we now think of as subjective, either because of the senses they deploy (such as taste and smell) or because of the ends they serve (such as determining the quality and originality of a work of art). What were the technical procedures that early moderns used to make these judgments? What sort of knowledge was involved in them? And how did that knowledge stand in relation to early scientific disciplines, such as medicine, natural history, chemistry and natural philosophy? We draw on literary history, art history, and the history of science, and we cover a wide range of things that early moderns made judgements about, from scientific instruments to the pleasures arising from sensory experience.

This event is free, but registration is required. To register, please click here to access the Eventbrite page.

Sunday, March 25, 2018

Workshop announcement - Narrative science and its visual practices

9th April 2018

4 travel bursaries for PhD students

As part of the ERC funded Narrative Science project we are hosting a 1 day workshop focussed on the intersection of visual practice and narrative in science. The workshop will take place at the London School of Economics and Political Science, on the 19th of April.

Science abounds with visual materials: exemplary objects, 3D models, photos, diagrams, maps, graphs. Scholars in the history, philosophy and social studies of science have highlighted various features and roles of these objects and the practices in which they are embedded, including reasoning, speculation, demonstration, illustration, communication and others. This workshop focusses on the association of visual practices with narratives in knowledge making. In some cases, visual objects embed narrative qualities in themselves; in other cases, narratives are needed to make sense of the visual materials.

Workshop spaces are very limited. If you are interested in attending, please write to Dr Robert Meunier as soon as possible.

PhD travel bursaries
To increase participation from the postgraduate community, we are making available 4 travel bursaries, each of a maximum of £250. These can be used to recover the cost of train or airfare for those who wish to attend, and who are currently enrolled on a PhD programme, preferably with research interests directly related to the workshop agenda. To apply for a PhD travel bursary please write to Dr Dominic Berry. Please include: Your name University Affiliation PhD Programme and thesis title And no more than 100 words on how this workshop relates to your research. The deadline for applications to the travel bursary is Friday 6th of April. You will be notified as to the outcome of your application shortly thereafter. Applicants will be selected to ensure a diverse range of research interests and institutions are represented. 

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Life in a Dish event

How does society connect to and manipulate living matter, and how can we explore this through film and virtual games?

Date and Time
Thursday, 22 March, 6-8pm

St Barnabas Centre, Mill Road, CB1 2BD


Cambridge Stem Cell Institute and the Department of Sociology bring you an interactive panel discussion exploring the relationship between researchers and the living materials they study.

Living materials are fragile and challenging to handle. What is it like to work with them every day? We'll explore this question in the context of stem cell research, with a focus on cell cultures in a dish. We're going to ask for your input, as we present a virtual game designed to bring cell culture into your living room! The night will close with a private screening of award-winning short film Dish Life, accompanied by a wine reception.

Wednesday, March 14, 2018


The Goethe Society of North America invites the submission of essays on Goethe's contribution to the history of science and on Goethe in the history of science.

The Richard Sussman Prize is awarded annually for the best essay published in 2017 in an academic journal on Goethe's contributions to the history of science and on Goethe in the history of science. The prize carries a $500 award.

Besides his literary accomplishments, which inaugurated a new era in modern German culture, scientific studies also played a significant role in the life of Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749-1832). Goethe's research coincided with the emergence of modern scientific disciplines and their institutional establishment within the university system, thereby supplanting earlier scientific practices and methods. As rector of the scientific institutes at the University of Jena, Goethe stood in close contact and corresponded with scientists in Germany and beyond. The completion of the Leopoldina edition of his scientific writings allows the opportinity for a new assessment of Goethe within the context of science as it was emerging during his lifetime and within the history of science in general. This award seeks to foster scholarship in this area.

Please submit a copy of the essay (electronic version preferred) by May 1, 2018 to the Society's Vice-President, Catriona MacLeod: Department of Germanic Languages & Literatures, University of Pennsylvania, 745 Williams Hall, 255 South 36th Street, Philadelphia, PA 19104-6305 (

The following articles are eligible: 1. articles written by a North American scholar (defined by institutional affiliation at the time of publication); or 2. articles written by a current member of the GSNA; or 3. articles published in the Goethe Yearbook. NB: Articles by current GSNA board members are not eligible. GSNA members are encouraged to submit their own articles for consideration.

Tuesday, March 13, 2018


To mark the 35th anniversary of the publication of Professor Dame Gillian Beer’s ground-breaking study of the relations between science and literature, the British Society for Literature and Science is sponsoring an afternoon’s discussion with Gillian Beer, the BSLS President, at the Natural History Museum in Oxford on Saturday April 7th.

Venue: Lecture Theatre, Oxford University Museum of Natural History

Date: Saturday 7th April 2018

Time: 2.30 – 4.30pm

2.30-3.15: Gillian Beer interviewed by John Holmes
3.15-3.25: Short break
3.25-4.25: Roundtable on Literature and Biology chaired by Daniel Brown with Sally Shuttleworth, David Amigoni and Lara Choksey.
4.25-4.30: Concluding Comments from Martin Willis (BSLS Chair)

The event is free, and all welcome. Please sign up via Eventbrite here.