People-Powered Science! Citizen Science in Bradford

On Saturday 9th March, the Constructing Scientific Communities Project visited the National Science and Media Museum in Bradford, for a day of exploring animation and citizen science as part of British Science Week. There were talks, tours, and hands-on activities that brought together the worlds of art, science, and film (with a healthy dose of penguins!).

Project member, and now Head Curator of the Museum, Dr Geoff Belknap introduced visitors to ‘Science Gossip’, a project where volunteers help to tag and classify illustrations in Victorian natural science periodicals, including a range of flora and fauna. Professional Hollywood animator Sydney Padua wowed the crowds with live animation demonstrations that brought to life some of these beautiful creatures, including a rather charming penguin. (Readers of this blog may remember Sydney’s incredible snipe animation on twitter!).

Sydney demonstrating how to animate a penguin before the audience’s eyes! Photo credit: Nathan Buckley.

Visitors were able to learn more about getting involved and volunteering at the museum with Gin Jacobucci, and the day also featured further presentations about citizen science, from two Zooniverse projects based at the University of Oxford. Nora Eisner spoke about ‘Planet Hunters’, a project where members of the public help discover new planets and stars within our Solar System, and beyond. Fiona Jones introduced ‘Penguin Watch’, where volunteers help researchers track changes in penguin populations, by counting adults, chicks, and eggs in satellite images viewed online. Visitors were able to try their hands at counting and classifying with the help of the museum’s explainers—over 100 new classifications were made over the course of the day!

Alongside talks, visitors also got involved in hands-on animation activities, and enjoyed behind-the-scenes tours of the museum’s animation collections with the curatorial team.

Visitors getting hands-on during a collections tour, exploring how a zoetrope produces the illusion of moving images. Photo credit: Nathan Buckley.
A young visitor exploring animation and science at an interactive workshop. Photo credit: Nathan Buckley.

Visitors were delighted by the range of activities offered by ConSciCom and the museum, with lots of families planning to explore the Zooniverse further when they got back home. We were happy to share ConSciCom T-shirts and bags with their Science Gossip logo: wear them as proudly as we do!

Hannah posing in one of our beautiful ConSciCom T-shirts. Photo credit: Catherine Charlwood.

We would like to extend a massive thank you to Geoff, Sydney, Gin, Nora, Fiona, and all of the team at the National Science and Media Museum in Bradford who made it such an inspiring day. To all the fantastic visitors who came to animate, classify, and explore citizen science – we hope you enjoyed it as much as we did!

Event – People Powered Science Day

SCIENCE GOSSIP CELEBRATION

9 March 2019
The National Science and Media Museum, Bradford

Science Gossip Logo

It’s British Science Week, and we’re celebrating with a fun-packed, thought-provoking day of activities, talks and demos for all the family.

Join us throughout the day to try your hand at becoming a scientist or animator, listen to inspiring talks, and take a look behind the scenes of our collection.

Find all the details here!

Science, Medicine and Culture in the Nineteenth Century Seminars in Michaelmas Term 2018

Image

Tuesday 23 October 2018 (Week 3)

 Dr Lauren Weiss and Prof Kirstie Blair, University of Strathclyde

 Science and the Mutual Improvement Society

Victorian Britain had hundreds, if not thousands, of societies devoted to the cause of self-improvement, many populated by aspiring working-class men (and, later in the century, women). Scientific discussion and debate was very important to these associations. This talk will focus on the little-known archive of their meetings records and the magazines that they produced, showing that these give us significant insight into how, why, and when societies discussed key scientific debates and development, and the ways in which scientific education was perceived as vital to the cause of mutual improvement.

This talk is delivered by Dr Lauren Weiss, whose PhD and postdoctoral research has focused on literary societies and mutual improvement magazines, and Prof Kirstie Blair, whose current research is focused on Scottish and Northern working-class literature and culture.

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

 

Wednesday 7 November 2018 (Week 5)

Dr Imogen Goold, University of Oxford and Dr Catherine Kelly, University of Bristol

Psychiatric Injury and the Hysterical Woman

In this paper, we examine the development of the English courts’ approach to negligently-inflicted psychiatric injury claims from an historical perspective, first tracing the development of the English court’s approach to psychiatric injury claims. We then offer an overview of how mental injury has been understood over the past two centuries, and the notion of the hysterical woman within this framework. We posit the idea that the current law can be best understood as a sympathetic reaction to the notion of the ‘hysterical woman’. We argue that this approach can both explain the early resistance to recognising such claims, but also the enthusiasm for compensation in others. We further argue that the rather confused and conflicting approaches in English law can be understood as a result of the lack of a clearly developed normative basis for compensation. This failure, we suggest, has arisen as a result of the reactive nature of the way in which the law has developed, which has undermined the courts’ development of a more ethically coherent and reasoned approach. We argue that an understanding of the background to the current law can aid in improving the coherency of this area of law in the future.

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

 

Tuesday 20 November 2018 (Week 7)

Dr Megan Coyer, University of Glasgow

Literature and Medicine in the Nineteenth-Century Periodical Press: The Literary Doctor in Blackwood’s Edinburgh Magazine

In the early nineteenth century, Edinburgh was the leading centre of medical education and research in Britain. It also laid claim to a thriving periodical culture. This paper explores the relationship between the medical culture of Romantic-era Scotland and the periodical press by examining the work of two key medically-trained contributors to Blackwood’s Edinburgh Magazine, the most influential and innovative literary periodical of the era. I argue that the Romantic periodical press cultivated innovative ideologies, discourses, and literary forms that both reflected and shaped medical culture in the nineteenth century. In the case of Blackwood’s, the magazine’s distinctive Romantic ideology and experimental form enabled the development of an overtly ‘literary’ and humanistic popular medical culture, which participated in a wider critique of liberal Whig ideology in post-Enlightenment Scotland. The construction of the surgeon, sentimental poet, and prolific Blackwoodian contributor, David Macbeth Moir (1798–1851), as a literary surgeon within the magazine is briefly examined. Samuel Warren’s seminal series, Passages from the Diary of a Late Physician (1830–37), is then read in its vexed original publishing context – the ideologically charged popular periodical press – in terms of its inception and reception, as well as its initiation of a new genre of popular medical writing. The paper concludes by reflecting upon the need to further situate the writings and reception of nineteenth-century literary doctors in relation to specific cultural and textual contexts to unpack both the history of medical humanism and the broader relationship between medical and literary cultures during this period.

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

 

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

Image Credit: Wellcome Collection

Women in Medicine Wikithon

Friday 8th June, 2-6pm.

Register here.

Join us for this Women in Medicine Wikithon to recognise pioneering women who deserve a more prominent place in the online historical record. We’ll be exploring the range of ways women were involved in medicine and healthcare, as doctors, surgeons, GPs, nurses and public officials. You’ll find out about fascinating female practitioners from history, then develop your digital skills and learn how to edit Wikipedia in order to harness the power of the web to share your knowledge.

The event will begin with a talk by Dr Anne Hanley, Lecturer in History of Medicine at Birkbeck, University of London. Her current project is charting the provision of sexual-health services in Britain from the end of the Great War to the ‘swinging sixties’. As part of this project, she is exploring the experiences of women doctors who carved out a unique professional territory in the VD Service. Her book, Medicine, Knowledge and Venereal Diseases in England, 1886–1916, is published with Palgrave.

We’ll then do hands-on editing and you’ll leave having helped to improve the gender balance of Wikipedia. Complete beginners and experienced editors are both welcome to attend – we’ll provide training for anyone new to editing. If you’ve spotted an article that needs improving, bring along your queries and we’ll see what we can do to help!

This event is a partnership between Constructing Scientific Communities and the Wellcome Library and is generously supported by the Arts and Humanities Research Council.

Programme and Registration for Workshop: Self-Fashioning Scientific Identities in the Long Nineteenth Century

University of Leicester, 15th June 2018, Charles Wilson Building 408

09:30-18:30

Keynote: Dr Patricia Fara, University of Cambridge

At the beginning of the nineteenth century, there was no such thing as a scientist. While professional careers in science were gradually formalised, many scientific practitioners aspired to none at all. Lacking blueprints to guide their behaviour, practitioners of all descriptions had to carve out their own identities to demonstrate expertise, prestige, taste, authority.

Scholars of nineteenth-century science and culture have revealed diverse scientific identities, including romantic geologists, chemical-wielding showmen, and poetic physicists, alongside artisan botanists, unpaid draughtswomen, and husband-and-wife collaborations. Recent scholarship complicates rigid distinctions between amateur and professional, populariser and primary researcher, and scientific writing and imaginative prose, producing increasingly nuanced studies of the ways in which scientific practitioners sought to shape their own identities.

Stephen Greenblatt’s now-classic study of ‘self-fashioning’ demonstrated how one might carve out for oneself ‘a distinctive personality, a characteristic address to the world, a consistent mode of perceiving and behaving’. The speakers at this one-day workshop will examine how complex changes in scientific culture can be considered through the lens of self-fashioning. Their papers cover an array of topics that include discussions of disciplinarity, life writing, authority, and the popularisation of science.

Please see the programme below. Those interested in attending should email sciself2018@gmail.com with any dietary or access requirements. The workshop is free and the deadline for registration is May 23rd.

Funding for this day has been provided by the generous support of the Constructing Scientific Communities project.

SelfSci Full Programme_Page_1SelfSci Full Programme_Page_2

Science, Medicine and Culture in the Nineteenth Century Seminars in Trinity Term 2018

tringquaggaMonday 7 May 2018 (Week 3)

Professor Harriet Ritvo, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Gone but not Forgotten:  Coming to Grips with Extinction

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

Extinction is a timely and controversial topic now, as it has been for centuries.  That is not, of course, to say that the focus of contention has remained constant.  At first the main question, couched at least as much in theological as in scientific terms (that is, in terms resonant with later debates about evolution), was whether it could happen.   Localized anthropogenic extinctions, most famously that of the dodo, were noticed by European travelers in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries (the intentional extermination of undesirable animals like wolves at home did not figure in such debates).  The dwindling and disappearance of more populous and widespread species, including the passenger pigeon, the quagga, and (nearly) the American bison, in the nineteenth century sparked a different kind of concern among the overlapping communities of hunters, naturalists, and conservationists, which helped to inspire the earliest national parks and wildlife reserves.

Tuesday 22 May 2018 (Week 5)

Dr Carolyn Burdett, Birkbeck, University of London

Sympathy limits in Daniel Deronda

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

From the 1860s sympathy emerged as a key term in naturalistic dispute about mechanisms of evolution and the relation of human to animal life. This paper argues that we need to look closely at these debates in order to have a fuller account of the role sympathy played in the ethical and artistic changes of the ‘end’ of Victorianism. Sympathy’s part in its own vanishing conditions during the final three decades of the nineteenth century has not yet been fully explained. As literary historians invariably turn to George Eliot to help grasp the scope and power of secular modern sympathy, I go to her final novel, Daniel Deronda, to find insight about its waning. While sympathy is explicitly referenced on more occasions in Daniel Deronda than in any other of Eliot’s fictions, many readers have noted profound changes that propel the narrative simultaneously beyond both sympathy and realism. Might sympathy, paradoxically, be a key to grasping why Eliot’s last novel is full of terror and dread, magic and divination, Gothicism and melodrama? I conclude by briefly suggesting that sympathy in the final decades of the nineteenth century is part of the same nexus of concepts that produce a new term, empathy, seen by some in the twenty-first century to have largely replaced sympathy in referencing affective and ethical capacity.

Tuesday 5 June 2018 (Week 7)

Dr Manon Mathias, University of Glasgow

 ‘What is health? It is chocolate!’: Chocolate, medicine, and writing

in nineteenth-century France

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

Although France’s role in the development of chocolate from an Early Modern luxury to a popular product has been noted, nowhere has the French engagement with chocolate as medicine been examined in any depth. Moreover, the numerous literary engagements with this product in nineteenth-century novels remain unexplored. Taking up the call issued by the Chocolate History Project (UC Davis) for more research on chocolate in literature and in cookbooks, this paper will examine references to chocolate in scientific and medical texts from the period but also in gastronomic texts and novels to see to what extent principles regarding chocolate reached beyond the medical field, and also to reveal the rich and complex relations between chocolate and language.

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

‘Mind Boggling Medical History’ Card Game Launch – Feb 28th!

https---cdn.evbuc.com-images-40101485-71940185735-1-original

February 28th
5pm
Royal College of Nursing Library and Heritage Centre, London

Register here!

Join us for the launch of “Mind-Boggling Medical History” and explore the unexpected in medical and healthcare practice and history.

Mind-Boggling Medical History is a card game and educational resource led by the Constructing Scientific Communities project at the University of Oxford, in partnership with RCN Library and Archives. It is funded by the Arts & Humanities Research Council (AHRC). The educational game is designed to challenge preconceptions and show how ideas in medicine change for a variety of reasons.

The online game is accompanied by teaching resources to enable it to be used in schools for history or health education lessons, and for nursing and medical students at university.

Attendees at the launch will all receive a limited edition printed pack of the 50 card game and answer booklet.

Workshop: Self-Fashioning Scientific Identities in the Long Nineteenth Century

Self-Fashioning Scientific Identities in the Long Nineteenth Century

University of Leicester, 15th June 2018

Keynote: Dr Patricia Fara, University of Cambridge

 

‘You will I am sure on reflection, readily acknowledge that as a man of science I have no choice but to pursue “truth” to the best of my ability in spite of consequences[.]’

St G. J. Mivart to Charles Darwin, 1873

‘The only alteration I would suggest is that the word “Miss” should be removed. I do not like the word if it is not quite needed; and would it not be well to add a reference to my being an authorised agricultural worker?’

Eleanor Ormerod to W. B. Tegetmeier, 1898

***

At the beginning of the nineteenth century, there was no such thing as a scientist. While professional careers in science were gradually formalised, many scientific practitioners aspired to none at all. Lacking blueprints to guide their behaviour, practitioners of all descriptions had to carve out their own identities to demonstrate expertise, prestige, taste, authority. How did one comport oneself? How should one write, and where? Who should be included in the community and who excluded? Were you a natural philosopher, a savant, a man of science, a scientist, or none of the above?

Scholars of nineteenth-century science and culture have revealed diverse scientific identities, including romantic geologists, chemical-wielding showmen, and poetic physicists, alongside artisan botanists, unpaid draughtswomen, and husband-and-wife collaborations. Recent scholarship complicates rigid distinctions between amateur and professional, populariser and primary researcher, and scientific writing and imaginative prose, producing increasingly nuanced studies of the ways in which scientific practitioners sought to shape their own identities.

Stephen Greenblatt’s now-classic study of ‘self-fashioning’ demonstrated how one might carve out for oneself ‘a distinctive personality, a characteristic address to the world, a consistent mode of perceiving and behaving’. Indeed, self-fashioning has been a valuable tool for thinking about how complex changes in scientific culture were carried out across the nineteenth century. Studying the shaping of practitioners’ identities in these terms allows us to explore the formation and negotiation of scientific communities in insightful ways.

This one-day workshop aims to bring together scholars interested in the processes through which scientific practitioners constructed identities for themselves and how these identities were, in turn, perceived by their colleagues and wider society. Although the focus will predominantly be upon the long nineteenth century, we are also happy to consider papers that speak to these issues outside this timeframe. We would particularly welcome papers that explore self-fashioning beyond the exclusive circles of English men of science. Submissions are invited on the following topics:

  • Gender identity and science
  • Class identity and science
  • National identity and science
  • Ethnicity and science
  • Amateurs/amateurisation and professionals/professionalisation
  • Popularisers and primary researchers
  • Self-fashioning through correspondence
  • Self-fashioning through literary style
  • The identities of scientific periodicals
  • Key terms, such as ‘(gentle)man of science’, ‘savant’, and ‘scientist’
  • Scientific practitioners in fiction, poetry, and cartoons

Papers will be 20 minutes in length, and the deadline for abstracts of up to 250 words is 9th April. We will inform accepted speakers by the 23rd April.

Please send abstracts and any other enquiries to: sciself2018@gmail.com

There will be no registration fee, and we are able to support the travel costs of postgraduates and ECRs who are accepted to speak. Those who receive this assistance may be asked to contribute a short blog post regarding their experience of the event.

The venue is yet to be confirmed, but we will advise attendees regarding accessibility as soon as this information becomes available. If you would like to discuss your specific requirements, please do not hesitate to contact us via the above email address.

Organised by Richard Fallon (Leicester), Matthew Wale (Leicester), and Alison Moulds (Oxford).