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Monthly Archives: March 2015

Columbus, Ohio November 12-15, 2015

Intersections of Art and Science in the Long Nineteenth Century


We welcome papers that explore the intersection of “art” and “science” in the long nineteenth century. From Keats’s enigmatic intonation “beauty is truth, truth beauty,” to Ruskin’s declaration that “high art differs from low art in possessing an excess of beauty in addition to its truth, not in possessing excess of beauty inconsistent with truth,” to the aestheticism of the fin de siècle, the nineteenth century witnessed a fraught renegotiation of the relationships between knowledge, art, and science. If the opposition between C.P. Snow’s “two cultures” is one legacy of the nineteenth century, we aim to take seriously the “and” of “arts and sciences,” highlighting the consonances and mutualities as well as the disjunctions that characterized the period.


We are interested in artistic representations, practices, and engagements with the empirical sciences, and in the epistemological shifts that constructed the “artistic” and the “empirical.” Examples are countless. Coleridge collaborated with his physician-superintendent James Gillman on The Theory of Life. John Constable’s cloud studies are renowned for their meteorological rigor. George Eliot represented medical doctors as modern heroes in a sociologically-inflected novelistic form. Gerard Manley Hopkins wrote letters to Nature magazine. Erasmus Darwin’s poem The Botanic Garden makes significant contributions to Linnaean taxonomy, while Byron’s doctor John Polidori founded the vampire genre. Indeed, scientific practice depends upon forms of representation, and artistic practice necessarily involves knowledge-work.


Paper topics might include:

—The intersection of art and science in historical and biological museums and collections

—The cooperation of artists and scientists in investigating the supernatural, from the Ghost Club to occultism

—The formal and aesthetic dimensions of scientific practice, representation, and dissemination

—Literature and the emergence of the human sciences via the rise of realism

—Curricular and disciplinary shifts at Oxbridge and the Dissenting Academies, the incursion of the German University model, and how these phenomena led to the separation of art and science

—The cultural politics of specialization and the lingering figure of the generalist “man of letters”

—Developments in book production, publishing, selling, purchasing, and collecting; the transformation from eighteenth-century “bibliomania” to nineteenth-century bibliography


Alternatively, take a philological or genealogical approach:

—How does this period reify “arts” and “sciences” into distinct disciplines and epistemologies? How did literature become narrowly associated with belles-lettres? Chart the transition from “natural philosophy” to science as we now conceive of it.


We also welcome proposals that reflect upon nineteenth-century arts and sciences by way of contemporary disciplinary questions:

—How do quantitative and/or digital methods help us understand the productions of the nineteenth century—and the relationship between art and science they embody—anew?


250-word abstracts are due by April 5th, and should include name, institutional affiliation, email address, and paper title.

Send to Andrew Welch at

The registration deadline for the Tales Beyond Borders conference and workshop, all of which focus on the intercultural role of fantasy literature and speculative fiction, is now approaching (20th March 2015). Tales Beyond Borders is a two-day international conference (24th-25th April) and a postgraduate/early career researcher workshop (23rd April), organized by the ‘Reading the Fantastic’ Graduate Research Group at the University of Leeds. We have four keynote speakers: Dr Nicola Bown (Birkbeck, University of London) and Dr Alaric Hall (University of Leeds), whose research deals with Victorian fantasy and medieval fantasy respectively, will represent the academic aspect of working with the fantastic; science-fiction and fantasy writer (and multiple Arthur C. Clarke award nominee) Justina Robson and Peter Stevenson, a professional illustrator,  musician, storyteller from Aberystwyth Arts Centre and Kingston Art College, will provide a complementary perspective on working in the creative field of the fantastic.


We’re excited to be welcoming 36 panel speakers,  from nine different countries,  to the two main conference days (Friday 24th – Saturday 25th April, 2015) of Tales Beyond Borders. Panel speakers will be discussing a wide variety of topics and issues, including the use of modern techniques of digital illustration and animation to bring Malaysian and Thai folktales to new audiences, the balance of political and scientific investigations of fantasy, issues around Queer and ‘strange’ physicalities in speculative fiction, and difficulties of translation, reception, and interpretation in contemporary sci fi and dystopic fiction.


Our one-day workshop (open to both conference attendees and non-attendees) will explore the use of fantasy as a point of career engagement and public impact, aiming to provide practical skills as well as increase knowledge of current projects. Participants will pursue in-depth investigations with different speakers in three separate sessions focusing on fantasy and community engagement, fantasy and digital engagement, and fantasy and pedagogical engagement. Workshop sessions will involve presentations of current projects, discussion of strategies, and training in problem-solving using focused small-group work and feedback from speakers including Dr Laura Anderson (University of Leeds), who will focus on ‘Curious Encounters: Organising Public Engagement Activities Across Disciplines’;  Cath Heinemeyer (York St John University and York Theatre Royal), who will present on ‘Telling Tales with Teenagers: Stories from the Front Line’; Heather Robbins (the Sussex Centre for Folklore, Fairy Tales and Fantasy, University of Chichester), who will talk about ‘Folklore, Fairy Tales, Fantasy and Facebook’, Dr. Sarah Copeland (University of Bradford), who will discuss ‘Community Digital Storytelling: Engendering Activism through Narrative’, Dr Xavier Aldana Reyes (Manchester Metropolitan University and the Manchester Centre for Gothic Studies), who will address ‘Gothic Pedagogies: Challenges, Strategies and Design of Modern and Contemporary Gothic Units’ and Peter Stevenson (Storyteller and Illustrator), who will explore the complexities of ‘Teaching Visual and Performative Storytelling’.


More information about these initiatives, including schedule, speaker and registration/payment information, can be found on our