Cancellation – Oliver Zimmer seminar on 7 June at St Anne’s

Unfortunately the seminar which was due to take place at St Anne’s College on Wednesday 7 June at 5.30 p.m. with Professor Oliver Zimmer has had to be cancelled.

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The Contagion Cabaret, Oxfordshire Science Festival

The Contagion Cabaret: a quirky theatrical evening of drama, discussion and disease

Tuesday 20 June 2017, 7.30 – 10pm

Museum of the History of Science, Oxford 

Image: iStock.com/WilliamSherman

The Constructing Scientific Communities and Diseases of Modern Life projects are taking part in the Oxfordshire Science Festival with The Contagion Cabaret  at the Museum of the History of Science, Broad Street, Oxford, OX1 3AZ.

Killer germs, superbugs, pestilent plagues and global pandemics have fascinated writers, musicians and thinkers for centuries. As diseases spread through a population, likewise myths and ideas travel virally through film, literature, theatre and social media. Join a cast of actors, scientists and literary researchers for an inventive illustration of infectious extracts from plays and music, past and present.

The event is free but booking is required via Eventbrite.

Please note that the doors to the Museum will open at 7.15pm and the talk begins promptly at 7.30pm. Late arrivals cannot be guaranteed entry. This event is suitable for ages 14+

Sally Shuttleworth is Professor of English Literature looking at the inter-relations between literature and science, including the project Diseases of Modern Life: Nineteenth-Century Perspectives.

Kirsten Shepherd-Barr is Professor of English and Theatre Studies, interested in the relationship between modernism, science and theatrical performance.

John Terry is Artistic Director of Chipping Norton Theatre known for ambitious and adventurous theatre work, usually script based but with a strong visual and physical tilt.

 

 

 

The Material Culture of Citizen Science: Workshop Friday 12 May at St Anne’s College

The Material Culture of Citizen Science

Friday 12 May 2017

9.00 – 5.30

Seminar Room 8

St Anne’s College, Oxford

In recent years, citizen science has flourished in and out of the academy. Across the globe, via projects such as   Zooniverse, socially and intellectually-engaged members of the public contribute in crucial ways to the making of new scientific knowledge. Within academic discourse, scholars have embraced the term “citizen science” as a   heuristic analytical tool for thinking about activity both past and present.  Thus far, historical scholarship on citizen   science has tended to focus on people and institutions. This workshop extends the current conversation by  examining and reflecting upon the technologies and materials that have enabled citizen science to flourish. What are the practical means that fostered the break down of the divisions between professional and non-professional    science? What kinds of technologies and materials can be identified, and how did they shape the interactions among participants and thus, the production, circulation and use of scientific knowledge, in the digital age and before? Citizen Science practitioners, researchers from the Oxford-based project ‘Constructing Scientific  Communities: Citizen Science in the 19th and 21st Centuries’, and  members of the Max Planck working group “Working With Paper: Gendered Practices in the History of Knowledge” will discuss these questions in historical perspective.  In particular, our conversations will concentrate on the use of paper as a central means to mediate between  seemingly divergent actors and spaces and those digital technologies that have replaced it.

Programme: The workshop programme is available here 

Registration: This is a closed workshop, but a limited number of free places are available to book. If you would like to book a place, please contact Alyson Slade on alyson.slade@ell.ox.ac.uk no later than 5.00 p.m. on Wednesday 3 May 2017 who will then confirm the place. Please also indicate if there are any dietary requirements.

 

 

Connecting with the Crowd Conference: 16th June 2017 at the Natural History Museum, London

Conference: Connecting with the Crowd

Date: Friday 16th June 2017

Time: 10:00-17:00

Venue: The Natural History Museum, Cromwell Road, London, SW7 5BD

This one day cross-disciplinary conference aims to explore best practices and new perspectives on crowdsourcing citizen science.

This event is jointly sponsored by the British Ecological Society through their Special Interest Group for Citizen Science, and the Constructing Scientific Communities Project.

Register Here

Crowdsourcing projects and platforms abound, involving over one million citizen scientists in the analysis or interpretation of images and data online. This conference will showcase the latest tools, technologies and approaches available to engage and collaborate with diverse audiences online.

Key elements of the event will be to share lessons learned, and to explore collaborations with social science researchers to understand who makes up ‘the crowd’, how we can best reach, engage and connect with them, and how effective they are at crowdsourcing research data.

This event provides a networking and professional development opportunity for researchers and students from the fields of science, social science and the arts and humanities, as well as practitioners in science communication, citizen science and crowdsourcing.

Programme

Keynote speakers include Chris Lintott, Professor of Astrophysics and co-founder of the Zooniverse crowdsourcing platform, University of Oxford.

Call for abstracts for speed talks: We have allocated time within the conference for a number of five minute speed talks and would like to invite delegates to submit proposals. Speed talks can introduce a crowdsourcing project, share lessons learned, share experiences of using a particular tool or technology, reflect on strategies to recruit, retain or connect with ‘the crowd’, or cover any other aspect of crowdsourcing you’d like to share. We really want to make this an opportunity for a diverse range of people and projects to share their experiences. Please send a 200-word abstract including the title and the names and institutions of the contributing authors to conference2017@nhm.ac.uk  by 5 May 2017

The conference will also feature interactive formats including a chance to meet platform developers and leaders over a coffee, and a collaborative ‘Wish List’ Wall where we invite all attendees to share their needs and desires for new tools, apps or functionality on existing platforms to support new crowdsourcing projects, or extend existing ones.

Booking

Booking is required. £22.50 – Full fee. £15 – Students / retired / unemployed / BES members.

The conference fee includes lunch and morning/afternoon refreshments.

Registration deadline for early booking rates is 17:00 on Friday 12 May 2017. After this date, tickets (if available) will increase in price. Places are limited so please register now! Deadline is May 28th!

Please contact Kath Castillo on conference2017@nhm.ac.uk with any queries.

To download the event flyer, please click here.

 

 

 

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

 

The Railway Station by Francis Holl after William Powell Frith (1866)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

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

Wednesday 10 May 2017 (Week 3)

Professor Ursula Martin, University of Oxford

Ada Lovelace in her Mathematical Context

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

Ada, Countess of Lovelace, 1815 – 1852, the so called “first computer programmer”, is famous for her 1843 paper, which combined technical detail, and farsighted reflections, in describing Charles Babbage’s unbuilt analytical engine, a mechanical computer which, in principle, would have had the same capabilities as a modern machine.  Lovelace’s broader reflections  include the complexity and difficulty of programming, the potential for mathematical experiment, algebra, or composing music, and even, as noted by Alan Turing, the limits of machine thought.

Celebrated as an icon of women in science, Lovelace has been the subject of many popular accounts, with intense debate as to her ability and contribution to the 1843 paper. The only biography to study Lovelace’s mathematics  is detailed,  confident, but mathematically incorrect: the only edition of the letters is somewhat unscholarly and leaves out the mathematical content, stressing notions of poetical science.

Our recent work (with Christopher Hollings and Adrian Rice) is the first study of Lovelace by historians of mathematics, ad describes her eclectic childhood education, and her private study in 1840, at university level, with the eminent mathematician Augustus De Morgan.  We identified her increasing insight, tenacity with details and desire to grasp abstract principles – the skills required for independent mathematical work.

One might assess such  varying accounts of Lovelace’s life and contribution against changing contexts of class, gender, or mental stability; changing perceptions of mathematics amongst both professional mathematicians and the general public; changing perceptions of how to present women scientists; or better understanding of the misremembering or composure of women’s contributions.  Despite her reputation, we lack a scholarly account of the 1843 paper, and the trajectory of its ideas, rooted in the relevant mathematical context,  or a biography that  treats her as a member of a scientific community, alongside Babbage, De Morgan and Somerville, rather than constraining her as marginal or exceptional.

Ursula Martin is Professor of Computer Science at Oxford, and holds an EPSRC Fellowship to study collaborative  mathematics.

Wednesday 24 May 2017 (Week 5)

Dr James Emmott, Oxford Brookes University

On the Stratification of Language

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

‘There are few sensations more pleasant than that of wondering,’ the philologist Max Müller declared at the opening of his Rede lecture, delivered in the University of Cambridge on 29 May 1868. The cause of wonder for Müller on this occasion was the thousands of years that humans had lived in ‘conscious ignorance’ of the ancient layers of rock and the remains of organic creatures, before geological eyes were opened in the eighteenth century; and, more strikingly, the centuries during which names had been given to a panoply of living things while ‘what was much nearer to them than even the gravel on which they trod, namely the words of their own language’, escaped systematic notice. ‘Here, too,’ Müller observed, ‘the clearly marked lines of different strata seemed almost to challenge attention, and the pulses of former life were still throbbing in the petrified forms imbedded in grammars and dictionaries’. Yet this attention did not fully arrive until the nineteenth century, when the idea that language was a fixed and stable structure gave way to the view that it was a ‘growing and developing medium’ (Hans Aarsleff), a material accumulation susceptible to sifting, analysing, and accounting. This paper will wonder about what new varieties of thought were made possible by the association of these fields, and the analogies they engendered. The vastness and composite complexity of the linguistic record, with models of preservation and decay borrowed from geology, prompted reappraisals both of the utility and applicability of universal laws to human culture, and a fundamental rethinking of language itself.

Wednesday 7 June 2017 (Week 7)

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.

 

 

Magic Lantern and Science Workshop: 17 March 2017

The Constructing Scientific Communities, Diseases of Modern Life and the Million Pictures projects are pleased to announce a special workshop, hosted at London’s Royal Institution, to consider the multiple relationships that existed between popular science and the magic lantern, with an emphasis on the long nineteenth century. Papers will consider magic lantern slides, instruments, and instrument makers, as well as considering issues of curation and performance.

A special attraction will be Jeremy Brooker’s evening entertainment concerning John Tyndall’s celebrated lectures at the Royal Institution. All workshop attendees will be also welcome to join this public lecture without charge.

Attendance is free, but space is limited. To attend, email: gb224@le.ac.uk by March 1st, 2017

A copy of the event poster is available here

Programme

9:30-10:15 – Coffee on arrival

10:15-10:30 – Introductory Comments. Sally Shuttleworth (University of Oxford) and Geoff Belknap (Leicester University), Constructing Scientific Communities Project. 

10:30-12:00 – Panel 1: Approaches to Science and the Magic Lantern

  • Iwan Morus (University of Aberystwyth), ‘Seeing the Light: Fact and Artefact in Victorian Lantern Culture’
  • Sarah Dellmann (Utrecht University),  ‘Images of Science and Scientists: Lantern Slides of Excursions from Utrecht University, NL (c. 1900-1950)’
  • Emily Hayes (Exeter University), ‘Fashioned by physics: the ‘scope and methods’ of Halford Mackinder’s geographical imagination’

12:00-1:00 – Lunch

1:00-2:30 – Panel 2: Magic Lanterns and Museums/Curation

  • Charlotte New and Meagan Smith (Royal Institution), ‘Shedding light on yesterday: Highlighting the slide collections of the RI and relevant preservation’
  • Frank Gray (Screen archive South-east, Brighton), ‘Working with Archive Collections: Development, Access and Historical Context’
  • Phil Wickham (Bill Douglas Cinema Museum, University of Exeter), ‘Lanterna Magicka: The Bill Douglas Cinema Museum and its lantern collections’

2:30-3:00 – Coffee break

3:00-4:30 – Panel 3: Materiality of the lantern

  • Phillip Roberts (York University), ‘Science and Media in the Industrial Revolution: Instrument Makers and the Magic Lantern Trade’
  • Kelly Wilder (De Montfort University), ‘From Lantern Slides to Powerpoint: Photography and the Materiality of Projection’
  • Deac Rossell (Goldsmiths College), ‘Changing Places: Tracking Magic Lantern Culture from Physics to Chemistry to Cinema’

4:30-4:45 – Closing Remarks. Joe Kember and Richard Crangle (Exeter University), Million Pictures Project.

6:00-7:00 – Drinks Reception

7:00-8:30 – Evening lantern show for the general public:

  • Jeremy Brooker, A Light on Albemarle Street: John Tyndall and the Magic Lantern

The talk is part of a programme of events to celebrate the European Research Council’s 10th anniversary week from 13-20 March.  More information on the anniversary is available on the ERC’s website.

erc-10th-birthday

 

 

Doctor, Doctor: Global and Historical Perspectives on the Doctor-Patient Relationship – One-day Symposium – Registration now open

We are pleased to announce that registration for the one-day symposium on global and historical perspectives on the doctor-patient relationship is now open. The event is being held at St Anne’s College (University of Oxford) on 24 March 2017.

You can sign up here. Tickets are £30 for standard delegates and £20 for concessions. This includes lunch, refreshments and a drinks reception. Please note that there are separate registration options for speakers and delegates – do ensure you select the right one.

A draft copy of the programme is available to download here: doctor-doctor-symposium-programme. The keynote speaker is Anna Elsner (University of Zürich).

This one-day symposium is generously supported by St Anne’s College, The Oxford Research Centre for the Humanities (TORCH) through a Medical Humanities Programme Grant, and the Arts and Humanities Research Council-funded project Constructing Scientific Communities.

The symposium is organised by Alison Moulds (St Anne’s) – DPhil Candidate on Constructing Scientific Communities – and Sarah Jones (Oriel). You can contact them here: doctorpatient17@torch.ox.ac.uk.

For more details, visit the symposium website: https://doctorpatient2017.wordpress.com/.

 

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.

 

 

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.

Continue reading

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.