Two new books



Two new books have just been published by the directors of the Centre for Interdisciplinary Research into the Humanities and Science. Andrew Mangham’s Cambridge Companion to Sensation Fiction has just been published by Cambridge  University Press. John Holmes’s Darwin’s Bards: British and American Poetry in the Age of Evolution, first published in 2009, has just been issued in paperback. To read more about these books, and how they contribute to interdisciplinary research into the humanities and science, click on the titles above.


Women’s Scientific Travelling Before 1850

Women’s Scientific Travelling Before 1850:

An Interdisciplinary Workshop

Institute of Germanic and Romance Studies, London, UK

27-28 June 2014


Speakers to include:

Professor Barbara Gates (University of Delaware) Professor Londa Schiebinger (Stanford University) Professor Ann Shteir (York University, Ontario, Canada).

Scholars have long been familiar with the scientific endeavours of late
19th-century women travellers like Isabella Bird and Mary Kingsley, but
these figures have generally been assumed to be pioneers, blazing a new
path for scientifically inclined women. Recent research, however, has begun
to uncover Bird and Kingsley’s many predecessors in the 18th- and early 19th-centuries – women such as Maria Riddell, Maria Graham and Sarah Bowdich, whose journeys to regions such as the West Indies, South America and West Africa were productive of scientific knowledge and debate across a range of disciplines.

This two-day workshop, organised by Nottingham Trent University’s Centre for Travel Writing Studies and sponsored by the British Academy, seeks to shed further light on women’s scientific travelling in the period before 1850. We accordingly welcome proposals for papers which explore any aspect of the intersections between women, science, travel and travel writing at this date, including (but not limited to): women who travelled in scientific spirit, conducting fieldwork or other forms of research; women who used travel writing as means of engaging with or contributing to contemporary scientific debate; the discursive and rhetorical obstacles faced by scientifically inclined women; the wider intellectual and cultural  networks which enabled and assisted women’s participation in contemporary science; and women’s role as travellers between different scientific communities and audiences.

Papers will be delivered in English, but we welcome proposals on non-Anglophone travellers and travel writing. To offer a paper, or
register for the event, please contact Carl Thompson (<>) by the
deadline of Jan 31 2014.

Dr Andrew Mangham speaks at the Oxford Literature and Science Seminar Series

The Oxford Literature and Science seminar resumes activity this term with papers from Dr Andrew Mangham (University of Reading), Dr Cathryn Setz (St Anne’s College), and Dr Peter Fifield (St John’s College). The seminar will be in Seminar Room A

, the English Faculty, St Cross Building, Manor Road. Details for this term are:

Friday 1 November, 2pmphiz-rag-and-bone-dealer-krook-dies-of-spontaneous-combustion

Dr Andrew Mangham (University of Reading), ‘”The Bar of Science”: Charles Dickens, G. H. Lewes and the Spontaneous Combustion of Mr Krook.’

Friday 15 November, 2pm
Dr Cathryn Setz (St Anne’s College), ‘Stone Age Science: Contra-Darwinian Discourse in Modernist Magazines.’

Friday 22 November, 2pm

Dr Peter Fifield (St John’s College), ‘Imagining Pain: Language and bodily suffering.’

Further seminars are planned for 7 February and 7 March 2014: details will appear here, and on our own webpages.
For further details, please contact Dr Michael Whitworth (Merton College).

Electricity and women’s work in farmhouse and cottage

Just a quick reminder that this term’s series of seminars on ‘Women and the countryside’ begins at 4.30 today in the MERL Conference Room.

Prof. Karen Sayer (Leeds Trinity University) has interests which range from science fiction to the Victorian countryside. She has served as Treasurer of the British Association for Victorian Studies and the Women’s History Network. Today her talk looks at the impact of electricity on women’s work in the countryside.


“The promotion of electricity during the 1920s began to stimulate demand for such power in the countryside. Advice was issued and texts produced that began to demonstrate how it might be used both on the farm and in the farmhouse. However, this activity occurred against a backdrop of limited availability and questionable reliabi

lity. In many areas electrical supply remained rare or non-existent until long after the Second World War. Set against this complex history, this talk will explore the degree to which this modern convenience came to impact on the lives of rural women during the early twentieth century”


We hope to see you there.