Science in Culture Seminar: Professor Kirsten E Shepherd-Barr, University of Oxford
When: Tuesday, November 21st, 17:30-19:00
Where: Seminar Rm 3, St Anne’s College
Infectious Ideas: Mechanisms of Transmission in the 19th Century
Abstract: This paper explores the semantic instability of the term “contagion” in the nineteenth century as refracted through theatre and performance, with key examples as case studies. I’ll look at 19th-century theatrical engagements with evolution, biology, and other related sciences, to show theatre’s preoccupation with mechanisms of transmission broadly conceived—from imaginative versions of heredity (including telegony in Ibsen and Strindberg, for instance) to breastfeeding on stage in Herne and Brieux to the “contagious” theatricality at the heart of Charlotte Mew’s short story “A White Night.” These and other examples can help us think about how and when the line began to blur between a strictly medical definition of contagion and a fuzzier “social disease” usage, onto which theatre cottoned very early on. I will then trace the powerful legacy of these theatrical engagements with contagion, looking first at how Artaud radically extends earlier metaphoric uses of contagion into his immersive, experiential “plague” and finally exploring the present day in which virtual contagion games allow the user to “perform” plagues and pandemics. A unifying thread running through all of these examples is how contagion relates to definitions of culture (e.g. Greenblatt, Foucault) founded, paradoxically, on containment and control. Finally, I will explore briefly how all of this relates to the wider issue of how to forge productive disciplinary cross-contaminations in a professional environment that increasingly regulates, directs, and manages trans- or interdisciplinarity.
The Wisdom of the Crowd: Marcus du Sautoy at the Royal Society
When: 29 November 2017
Where: The Royal Society, London
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/
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