Scientists and their diaries: Events at the Royal Society

On Friday 27 January 2017, the Constructing Scientific Communities project is holding two events in association with the Royal Society.

The Royal Society is at 6-9 Carlton House Terrace, London, SW1Y 5AG. Travel and practical information is available here.

12.00 – 17.30.  Workshop: Scientists and their diaries

The full programme for the workshop is here. Attendance is free and includes sandwich lunch and afternoon tea, but booking is essential. If you would like to attend, please email library@royalsociety.org to reserve a place.

18.00 – 19.00. Why We Write: Public Evening Event

The workshop will be followed by a public event on Why We Write, with Professor Sunetra Gupta. Workshop attendees are most welcome to stay on for this. Further details are available on the Royal Society Events page.

 

 

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A Lamp in One Hand and a Measuring Tape in the Other

Guest blogger and ConSciCom intern Lea Beiermann recalls the highlights of her four-month stay at the University of Leicester.

When I arrived in Leicester in early September I only had a vague idea of what I would be doing during the upcoming months. I had read a number of publications by ConSciCom researchers over the summer (for example Gowan Dawson’s new book) and had a rough idea of what the project was about – but I did not know yet what I would be able to contribute. Shortly after I arrived, it was agreed that I would mainly assist Geoff Belknap in his research on illustrations in nineteenth-century science periodicals.

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Science, Medicine and Culture in the Nineteenth Century: Seminars for Hilary Term 2017

 

John Atkinson Grimshaw, At the Park Gate (1878)

John Atkinson Grimshaw, At the Park Gate (1878)

Our programme for Hilary Term 2017 is now announced with two seminars at St Anne’s College.

Drinks will be served after each seminar. All welcome, no booking is required.

Wednesday 1 February 2017 (Week 3)

Professor Barbara Taylor, Queen Mary University of London

Pathologies of Solitude

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

Solitude today is a serious health concern. Loneliness is identified as a major contributor to illness, especially among the elderly and people with mental disorders. Conversely, fears are expressed about a decline in young people’s capacity for solitariness, in this digitally-connected age. Modern people, in other words, are either too solitary or not solitary enough: a paradoxical situation with potentially serious consequences for individual and social wellbeing.  Such concerns are not new. Solitude has always been problematic. From antiquity on it has been portrayed in dichotomous ways: as a higher state of being, free from worldly vice, and as an unnatural, debilitating condition. ‘Whosoever delights in solitude’, an Aristotelean epigram ran, ‘is either a beast or a god’. In the premodern world, only the god-like – saints, philosophers – were entitled to solitude. For the rest of humankind, occasional solitude – for prayer, contemplation, restoration – was part of a well-balanced life, but a reclusive existence was unhuman and productive of many evils: misanthropy, melancholy, superstition, madness.  Every age produces its versions of these anxieties. But a decisive turning point came in the late eighteenth-nineteenth century when the social and attitudinal changes associated with the rise of ‘commercial civilisation’ prompted an unprecedented level of concern about solitude and its associated pathologies: a concern which has continued unabated – although some of its emphases have changed – right up to the present.

In this paper Professor Taylor outlines this history, with particular emphasis on nineteenth-century developments.  She is putting together a research project on the Pathologies of Solitude, 18th-21st Centuries, and would welcome the opportunity to discuss the scope and aims of the project.

Wednesday 22 February 2017 (Week 6)

Dr Helena Ifill, University of Sheffield

Medical Authority, (pseudo)Science and the Explained Supernatural in Late Victorian Female Gothic Fiction

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

Mary Elizabeth Braddon’s short story ‘Good Lady Ducayne’ and Florence Marryat’s novel The Blood of the Vampire were published at much the same time as Bram Stoker’s best-selling Dracula. But these “vampire” stories do not feature the kind of blood-sucking fiend we may expect. Instead they offer alternative visions of vampirism which lead to a questioning of “expert” medical authority, doctor-patient power relations, and the efficacy of modern medical science.