The Contagion Cabaret at the British Academy (24 May 2018)

If you missed previous performances of The Contagion Cabaret, catch it* at the British Academy on May 24th.

*Pun intended.

To book your free ticket visit https://www.britac.ac.uk/events/contagion-cabaret

Contagion Cabaret e-flyer British Academy

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

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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).

 

Join us for a Contagion Camerata -February 2nd, 2018

Local students have been working with Dr John Traill (University of Oxford) to compose musical pieces about science and medicine. For inspiration, the students attended the Contagion Cabaret at Oxford’s Curiosity Carnival in September.

Hear their compositions in a showcase at St Anne’s College in February. Details below.

2 February 2018
6:30 pm
Mary Ogilvie Lecture Theatre
St Anne’s College, Oxford

No booking required. Free entry.

 

 

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

Galton Inquiries 1883

Our programme for Hilary Term 2018 is now announced with three seminars at St Anne’s College.

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

Tuesday 30 January 2018 (Week 3)

Professor Oliver Zimmer, University of Oxford

Time Tribes: How the Railways Made Communities (1840-1900)

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

When it comes to modern loyalties, scholars of various disciplines have predominantly looked at class, profession, region or nation. While these no doubt represent important sources of identity, in the long nineteenth century TIME emerged as a significant source of individual and collective self-definition. Increasingly, how people related to and made use of their own time marked out their actual and desired status. Time, that most elusive of matters, became instrumental for the making and unmaking of communities that sometimes transcended regional and national contexts. Much of this can be attributed to the railways and the temporal innovations they facilitated, above all standard time and railway timetables. This paper approaches the phenomenon in question – time tribes – through an investigation of British and German railway passengers.

 

Tuesday 13 February 2018 (Week 5)

Dr Ryan Sweet, University of Leeds

Normalcy Interrogated: Prosthetic Hand Users in Victorian Sensation-Fiction Narratives

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

The nineteenth century is often celebrated as a period of great innovation in artificial limbs. Not only did the century see tremendous developments in surgical practice, meaning that more amputees survived amputation and more survived with serviceable stumps able to support prosthetic limbs, but an attitude was also cultivated that increasingly privileged physical “normalcy”. As the concept of the “normal” body was constructed by contexts such as the emergence of bodily statistics, the growth of sciences that equated physical appearances with particular character traits, and changes in Poor Law legislation, it became more important than ever before for individuals to conceal bodily losses in order to avoid the stigma attached to physical difference. An emerging profession of prosthesis makers cashed in on both this growing consumer market and wider taste for physical “wholeness”—an explicit constituent of “normalcy”—by producing sophisticated artificial limbs designed to conceal limb loss (aesthetically and functionally). The products of the most successful of these limb makers, such as A. A. Marks and Frederick Gray, were celebrated by journalists and advocates on both sides of the Atlantic. In spite of such high spirits surrounding the achievements of artificial limbs, literary representations of prostheses tended to be more critical of both the efficacy of and logic underpinning such devices. Two examples of a texts that complicated the developing hegemony of physical “wholeness”—as well as the importance placed on concealing physical difference—were the sensation-fiction short stories “Lady Letitia’s Lilliput Hand” (1862) by Robert William Buchanan and “Prince Rupert’s Emerald Ring” (1895) by T. Lockhart. In this talk, I will argue that texts such as these challenged the status quo by presenting sensory critiques of hand prostheses and questioning the demand for them to enable users to “pass” as “normal”.

Tuesday 27 February 2018 (Week 7)

Dr Jana Funke, University of Exeter

‘Sexo-Aesthetic Inversion’: Transgender Subjectivities in Late Nineteenth- and Early Twentieth-Century Literature and Science

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

Much scholarship on the history of sexual science in relation to trans history has tended to focus on two related areas of sexological activity: the invention of diagnostic categories to produce fixed and stable identities, and the development of surgical and hormonal technologies to alter the physical appearance of trans bodies over the course of the 1920s and 1930s. As a result, sexual science is mainly remembered for implementing a medicalized framework that produced rigid diagnostic labels and put emphasis on the physical or somatic aspects of trans experience. This paper presents an alternative account of the relation between trans history and sexual science by focusing on a slightly earlier historical period, the decades between 1880 and 1920. At a time when surgical and hormonal interventions were not yet within immediate medical reach, understandings of what is nowadays described as trans identity emerged through sustained dialogue between scientific and literary writers who shared ideas concerning the role of Einfühlung (empathy), fantasy, dreams, the imagination and creativity in enabling an individual to experience and achieve cross-gender identification. Starting with British sexologist Havelock Ellis’s concept of ‘sexo-aesthetic inversion’ and Ellis’s exchange with modernist writer Bryher (Annie Winifred Ellerman) in the late 1910s, the paper works backwards to trace the intellectual roots of the scientific-literary framing of trans subjectivities. These include late nineteenth-century scientific studies of colour hearing, sense perception and aesthetics as well as works by literary authors like Olive Schreiner, Vernon Lee and William Sharp/Fiona Macleod to name but a few. Through its investigation of this earlier moment, the paper moves across the Victorian-Modernist divide to illuminate previously overlooked forms of exchange between literary and sexual scientific writings and to offer an alternative account of modern trans history.

 

UK DISABILITY HISTORY MONTH EVENT: WORK, TIME AND STRESS: HISTORICAL AND CONTEMPORARY PERSPECTIVES

Thursday, November 23, 2017 –

1:00pm to 2:00pm
Radcliffe Humanities, Woodstock Road, Oxford, OX2 6GG
Seminar Room

Professor Sally Shuttleworth (Faculty of English Language and Literature) will look at discussions of stress and overwork in both education and professional life in the Victorian era, based on her research.  Although we are clearly living in a radically altered world, there are nonetheless startling similarities in the ways the problems of overwork have been framed and debated, then and now.

Dr Marie Tidball (Faculty of Law, Centre for Criminology and TORCH Knowledge Exchange Fellow) will talk about the ‘dynamic’ nature of disability and the impact that stresses of modern life have on its trajectories, employment and what people sometimes refer to as ‘disability time’. That is, the changed experience of time due to pain, anxiety and stress caused by an impairment or the impact an impairment has on the length of time it takes to do ‘activities of daily living’ which in turn affects the availability of time as a resource which has value, such as getting dressed takes longer for prosthetic limb wearer, the increased extent of email, and related issues for people’s energy levels and productivity. This has an interesting impact on the number of hours disabled people may have available or may be able to work and thus a factor affecting the disability pay gap.

The two talks will raise lots of ideas for discussion, including the impact of modern technologies in each period on the nature of work.

 

Registration is free and all welcome. Booking essential. Click here to register for your free ticket.

Please email torch@humanities.ox.ac.uk if you have any accessibility needs.

Lunch from 12.30pm. Talk from 1pm.

This event is part of UK Disability History Month 22 Nov-22 Dec.

Wisdom of the Crowd: Marcus du Sautoy at the Royal Society

Join us for our final project event!

Wisdom

The Wisdom of the Crowd – Marcus Du Sautoy at the Royal Society on November 29th at 6 PM

Where: At The Royal Society, London, 6-9 Carlton House Terrace, London SW1Y 5AG

Details: Join Professor Marcus du Sautoy OBE FRS for a night of interactive experiments exploring the power of crowds in answering certain numerical questions.

From guessing the weight of a cow or the number of sweets in a jar, there is evidence that the average of a crowd’s guesses can deliver surprisingly accurate results.

Professor du Sautoy will carry out a number of live interactive quizzes and experiments to test these ideas and look at how these principals can be harnessed for citizen science projects.

This event will be hosted in partnership with the University of Oxford as part of the AHRC’s Constructing Scientific Communities project. Visit conscicom.org to discover more.

Attending this event

This event will involve interactive elements – you will need a smartphone in order to participate
Free to attend
No registration required
Seats allocated on a first-come, first-served basis
Doors open at 6.00pm

Travel and accessibility information https://royalsociety.org/about-us/contact-us/carlton-house-terrace-london/

For all enquiries, please contact events@royalsociety.org

Pop Science! Lates Event at the Natural History Museum

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ConSciCom is taking over the NHM for one night!

FRIDAY, October 27th
18:00-22:00
Natural History Museum, London

Science is a cornerstone of modern society but sharing the work of scientists can often be a challenge.  At Pop science, we explore some of the different ways that science can be and has been shared with the world over the generations.  From television to poetry, animation to photography come and explore some of the ways that people have engaged with and explored science from early Victorian naturalists to the latest citizen science.

Featuring: poetry from Don Patterson, live animation with Sydney Padua, a magic lantern demonstration, live music, and more!

More details here.

 

Contagion Cabaret

Wednesday 27 September, 7.45pm The Chipping Norton Theatre

A unique collaboration between The Theatre Chipping Norton and Oxford University

Girl In Gas Masks Holds a Red Ballon

Image: iStock.com/WilliamSherman

Killer germs, superbugs, pestilent plagues and global pandemics have fascinated writers, musicians and thinkers for centuries. As disease spreads through a culture, likewise myths and ideas travel virally through film, literature, theatre and social media.

Dreamt up in the plague-ridden imagination of the Theatre’s Artistic Director John Terry, join a cast of familiar faces including Marcus D’Amico (Frankie and Johnny) and Anna Tolputt (Around the World in 80 Days), alongside scientists and literary researchers from Oxford University for an evening of infectious extracts from plays and music, past and present. Be sure to bring your antiseptic wipes!

For more information and to book tickets see http://www.chippingnortontheatre.com/index.php?p=whatson&id=3601