Literature and Science, Oxford

A news and information hub for studies in literature and science at Oxford


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Fashionable Diseases of Georgian Life: Literature, Medicine and Culture in the Eighteenth Century and Beyond

Credit: Wellcome Library, London

Fashionable Diseases of Georgian Life: Literature, Medicine and Culture in the Eighteenth Century and Beyond

Thursday 2 June 2016, 4.00 – 6.30 p.m.
Seminar Room 8, St Anne’s College, Woodstock Road, Oxford

All welcome, no booking required. Seats available on a first-come, first-served basis.

Drinks will be served after the seminar.

Fashionable Diseases

Fashionable Diseases: Medicine, Literature and Culture, ca 1660-1832 is a three-year, Leverhulme-funded research project at the Universities of Northumbria and Newcastle. In this seminar, hosted by the Diseases of Modern Life project, team members will showcase some of their research through short presentations followed by discussion.

Presentations will include the paradoxical fashionability of gout and rheumatism, the roles of gender, class and health professionals in fashioning fashionable disease, to the manner in which treatments and their locations were implicated in the fashionability or otherwise of disease. The seminar will also consider the crucial role of representation and genre in the creation, maintenance and decline of fashionable disease.

Presentations

Dr Jonathan Andrews and Dr James Kennaway (Newcastle University). Gout and rheumatism as female maladies: the advantages and disadvantages of fashionable diseases from the sufferer’s perspective in Georgian Britain.

Professor Clark Lawlor (Northumbria University) ‘On Fashion in Physic’: the feminisation of fashionable disease in the very long eighteenth century. Ashleigh Blackwood (Northumbria University) – ‘The most sudden and dreadful hysteric, or nervous disorders’: Women, Fashionable Diagnosis and Remedy.

Professor Allan Ingram (Northumbria University) Doctoring the Doctors: In Fashion and Out? Dr Leigh Wetherall Dickson (Northumbria University) Delusions of Grandeur/ Illusions of Disease. Dr Anita O’Connell (Northumbria University) Sociability and Disease at the Spas: Satires of a Hypochondriac Society.

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Science, Medicine and Culture in the Nineteenth Century: Seminars in Trinity Term 2016

natural-history-chart-4

Our programme for Trinity Term is now announced with three seminars taking place at St Anne’s College.

Drinks will be served after each seminar and all are welcome.

Tuesday 10 May 2016 (Week 3)

Dr Anne Secord, University of Cambridge

The Politics of Participation: Early Nineteenth Century Scientific Citizens

The construction of British scientific communities in the early nineteenth century, especially in natural history, was a confessedly more inclusive process than that involved in sustaining the Republic of Letters in the previous century. This inclusiveness, however, did not involve a loosening of the constraints that governed participation, but more regulation of the means by which participation occurred. Scientific reformers in the 1830s proposed various models for organising wider groups of participants to ensure the most efficient collection and use of scientific information. The development of standardised procedures and increased vigilance, however, allowed cooperation without the necessity of consensus, and working-class participation in science often confounds expectations that shared practices imply shared aims. By looking at periodicals and other evidence of occasions of practice, Dr Secord will suggest that working-class participants held different views of knowledge and community which implicitly challenged the idealised division of labour proposed by scientific reformers

5.30 – 7.00, Seminar Room 3, St Anne’s College

Wednesday 18 May 2016 (Week 4)

Sydney Padua, Animator and Graphic Artist

Imaginary Engines- Lovelace, Babbage, and the Analytical Engine

Sydney Padua is an animator and graphic artist, whose graphic novel The Thrilling Adventures of Lovelace and Babbage won the British Society for the History of Mathematics Neumann Prize, the British Book Design Award and was a finalist in Goodreads Best Graphic Novel. Unusually for a graphic novel, The Thrilling Adventures is heavily footnoted, and combines detailed research with the creation of an alternative reality in which Ada Lovelace and Charles Babbage join forces to complete the world’s first computer, the Difference Engine, whilst embarking on a series of wonderfully illustrated adventures which involve major cultural figures from the Victorian period. In this talk, Sydney Padua reflects on Lovelace and Babbage’s achievements, her own creative interpretations, and visions of his Analytical Engine.

5.30 – 7.00, Seminar Room 3, St Anne’s College

Tuesday 7 June 2016 (Week 7)

Dr Staffan Müller-Wille, University of Exeter

Names and Numbers: “Data” in Classical Natural History, 1758–1859

According to a famous formula going back to Immanuel Kant, the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries saw the transition from natural history to the history of nature. This paper will analyze changes in the institutions, social relations, and media of natural history that underwrote this epochal change. Focussing on the many posthumous re-editions, translations, and adaptations of Carl Linnaeus’s taxonomic works that began to appear throughout Europe after publication of the tenth edition of his Systema naturae (1758), Dr Müller-Wille will argue that the practices of Linnaean nomenclature and classification organized and enhanced the flows of data—a term already used by naturalists of the period—among a wide range of amateur and professional naturalists and associated institutions in new ways. Species became units that could be “inserted” into collections and publications, re-shuffled and exchanged, kept track of in lists and catalogues, and counted and distributed in ever new ways. On two fronts—biogeography and the search for the “natural system”—this brought to the fore entirely new, quantitative relationships among organisms of diverse kind. By letting nature speak through “artificial“ means and media of early systematics, Dr Müller-Wille argues, new powerful visions of an unruly nature emerged that became the object of early evolutionary theories. Classical natural history as an “information science” held the same potential for generating surprising insights, that is, as the experimentally generated data of today’s data-intensive sciences.

5.30 – 7.00, Seminar Room 3, St Anne’s College


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Medicine and Modernity in the Long Nineteenth Century, St Anne’s College, Oxford, 10th-11th September 2016

Registration for our upcoming conference, Medicine and Modernity in the Long Nineteenth Century to be held on 10th and 11th September at St Anne’s College, Oxford, is now open, and links to the full programme and registration page can be found here:

https://diseasesofmodernlife.org/conference-2016/

In this two day interdisciplinary conference, hosted by the ERC project Diseases of Modern Life: Nineteenth Century Perspectives, we will explore the phenomena of stress and overload, and other disorders associated with the problems of modernity in the long nineteenth century, as expressed in the literature, science, and medicine of the period. By tracing the connections drawn between physiological, psychological and social health, or disease in the era, we aim to offer new ways of contextualising the problems of modernity facing us in the twenty-first century. We are particularly interested in comparative perspectives on these issues from international viewpoints.

Keynote Speakers: Professor Laura Otis (Emory College of Arts and Sciences) and Professor Christopher Hamlin (University of Notre Dame)

The standard registration fee is £35 and the student/concession registration fee is £20. This includes refreshments and lunch on both days, plus a drinks reception and conference dinner on the Saturday evening. A limited number of single, ensuite rooms are available in the Ruth Deech Building at St Anne’s College for the nights of Friday  9th and Saturday 10th September. If you would like to stay at St Anne’s College, please register and select this option as soon as possible.

If you have any questions, please get in touch with us at medicineandmodernity@ell.ox.ac.uk.

Amelia Bonea, Melissa Dickson, Jennifer Wallis, Sally Shuttleworth


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People Powered Medicine: A one-day public symposium

Constructing Scientific Communities

L0070040 Public Health: Bermondsey Dental health publicity, Bermondsey. Credit: Mirrorpix/ Southwark Local History Library and Archive/ Wellcome Images

Registration has now opened for our one-day public symposium investigating public participation in medicine and healthcare from the nineteenth century to the present.

The symposium, held at the Royal College of Surgeons of England (RCS), will bring together historical and contemporary perspectives to look at the relationship between the medical profession and the public. It will explore challenges to professional boundaries throughout the period, how the doctor-patient relationship has changed and in what ways the public can contribute to matters of medicine, health and disease.  See below for a full programme.

This public event will be followed by a drinks reception at the College’s Hunterian Museum.

It will be of interest to medical and healthcare practitioners, the public, historians and medical humanities scholars. The event is open to all.

This event has been generously supported by the Arts and Humanities…

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Science, Medicine and Culture in the Nineteenth Century: Seminars in Hilary Term 2016

The  programme for Hilary Term 2016 is now announced with two seminars taking place at St Anne’s College.

Drinks will be served after each seminar and all are welcome.

Wednesday 3 February 2016 (Week 3)

Dr Sam Alberti, Director of Museums and Archives, Royal College of Surgeons of England 

Sam's image

Casting no doubt: Plaster Heads in Victorian/Edwardian Science and Medicine

Science and medicine rely on extra-textual objects. From within the array of instruments, models, specimens and other material culture this paper will focus on a specific medium (plaster of Paris casts) and a specific anatomy (the human head). Examples from medicine, anthropology and anatomy will illustrate the particularities of the process of casting, the relationships between interior and exterior, between life and death. Museum stores to this day hold thousands of these widely reproduced and circulated casts, their quantity bewildering, their status ambiguous. Unpacking their significance as clinical and scientific records in the decades around 1900 is revealing.

5.30 – 7.00, Seminar Room 3, St Anne’s College

Wednesday 17 February 2016 (Week 5)

Graeme Gooday, Professor of History of Science and Technology, University of Leeds

V0008879 Structure of the outer and inner ear. Coloured stipple Credit: Wellcome Library, London. Wellcome Images images@wellcome.ac.uk http://wellcomeimages.org Structure of the outer and inner ear. Coloured stipple after: James. StewartPublished: 1800 Copyrighted work available under Creative Commons Attribution only licence CC BY 4.0 http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/

Medical and technological limits: exploiting, evaluating and alleviating adult hearing loss in Britain up to the Great War.

While early 19th century otologists claimed they could ‘cure’ most categories of deafness, by the early twentieth century such boasts were more characteristic of opportunist mail order advertisers. Victorian middle class people who experienced significant auditory loss in adulthood could thus not expect much assistance from physicians in attempting to sustain life among the hearing. Some followed Harriet Martineau’s example and declared their ‘deafness’ publicly by sporting a hearing trumpet to aid conversation. The more self-conscious opted for hearing assistance discreetly disguised in, for example, a ladies’ bonnet or a gentleman’s top hat. Those untroubled by myopia could instead learn lip-reading, or occasionally hand signing. These purported ‘solutions’ to hearing loss were much debated alongside many other aspects of deafness in the Deaf Chronicle founded in 1889, and in its successor periodicals.

5.30 – 7.00, Seminar Room 3, St Anne’s College

For any queries, please get in touch with Alyson Slade, alyson.slade@ell.ox.ac.uk.


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TEXTS AND CONTEXTS: THE CULTURAL LEGACIES OF ADA LOVELACE WORKSHOP – Registration now open!

The mathematician Ada Lovelace (1815-1852), daughter of poet Lord Byron, is celebrated as a pioneer of computer science. The notes she added to her translation of Luigi Menabrea’s paper on Charles Babbage’s analytical engine (1843) are considered to contain a prototype computer program. During her short life, Lovelace not only contributed original ideas to the plans for this early computer; she also imagined wider possibilities for the engine, such as its application to music, and meditated on its limitations. Lovelace leaves a legacy not just as a computer scientist, but also as a muse for literary writers, a model to help us understand the role of women in science in the nineteenth century, and an inspiration for neo-Victorian and steampunk traditions.

As part of the University of Oxford’s celebrations to mark the 200th anniversary of Lovelace’s birth, this one-day workshop will bring together graduates and early career researchers to discuss the varied cultural legacies of this extraordinary mathematician. The day will feature an expert panel including graphic novelist Sydney Padua and biographer Prof Richard Holmes, as well as a keynote address from Prof Sharon Ruston, Chair in Romanticism in the Department of English and Creative Writing at Lancaster University. Papers on the influences of Lovelace’s work will cover a broad spectrum from literature, philosophy, medicine, computer science to science teaching and Lego!

Follow this link to register for the workshop -more information about the workshop can be found here.


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The End of the Scientific Journal? Transformations in Publishing. Symposium on 27 November 2015

The End of the Scientific Journal? Transformations in Publishing

A one day symposium investigating scientific journal publishing — past, present and future.

The Royal Society, London, 27th November 2015

In the early 21st Century the world of scientific publishing is changing swiftly. Online publishing, open access, big data, innovations in peer review and commercial pressures have created a scientific publishing environment very different to that faced by scientists just twenty years ago.

To take just one area of recent change, the move to online publication raises a series of questions. Papers are increasingly being published as soon as they have been peer reviewed, without waiting for a volume to be collated. Will individual articles still speak to each other, or will the idea of a volume be lost? Does online publication offer new possibilities, creating space for more interdisciplinary material or new types of journal content? Most radically, is it still the case that publishing in a journal is the best way to share results, or establish priority? Or are scientists turning to alternative forms of presentation which bypass formal publishing? And does the rise of citizen science point to new forms of scientific practice, participation and publishing?

The key to understanding these contemporary changes lies in their historical context. The rise of professional science in the nineteenth century was facilitated by an exponential growth in science journals which transformed the ways in which scientific knowledge was constructed and circulated. Such links, between scientific publishing and practice are not only of historical interest, but are of crucial significance now, as we move into the uncharted waters of digital and open access publishing.
This symposium will bring together scientists, historians of science, academics involved in current science journal publishing and editing, and science editors from major publishing firms, to discuss potential developments in science publishing and their historical context.

Invited speakers include
• Bernard Lightman (York University)
• Jonathan Topham (University of Leeds)
• Aileen Fyfe (University of St. Andrews)
• Pietro Corsi (University of Oxford)

Up to 20 places are available, please contact Berris Charnley at Berris.Charnley@ell.ox.ac.uk if you are interested in attending, indicating briefly your reasons for attending and relevant experience.

The symposium is organised by the ‘Constructing Scientific Communities’ project. Conveners: Sally Shuttleworth, Gowan Dawson, Chris Lintott, Berris Charnley, Geoffrey Belknap and Sally Frampton

To download a flyer for this event, please click here

The programme will be available soon.