Monday, 14 May 2012

Thanks to everyone!

Delegate packs wait for collection
 On Saturday May 12th 2012, Keele University hosted the interdisciplinary conference Two Cultures or Co-Evolution? Science and Literature 1800-Present. The conference, which took its title from C. P. Snow’s influential Rede lecture of 1959, invited delegates from across the country to interrogate the relationship between these ‘two cultures’, including a roundtable session to encourage discussion on the state of that relationship in higher education today.

The day was opened with keynote addresses from Professor David Amigoni (Keele University) and Professor Sharon Ruston (University of Salford). Professor Amigoni’s talk focussed on Julian Huxley’s scientific poetry, whilst Professor Ruston discussed the implications of natural history theory on Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. Professor Joanna Verran, a world-renowned microbiologist from Manchester Metropolitan University, gave the afternoon keynote, sharing her personal experiences in engaging with colleagues, students and ideas across the subject divide.

Delegates arrive
The conference welcomed delegates from the universities of Keele, Oxford, Durham, Leeds, London and Canterbury Christ Church from both science and humanities backgrounds, allowing the discussion to explore all aspects of the papers. The first panel, entitled ‘What price progress? Conflicts of Science and Society in the Nineteenth Century’, explored the relationship between the fast-moving scientific discoveries and society of the Victorian period. The second, ‘Reading Science, Writing Literature: Creating Interdisciplinary Texts’, examined the ways in which literature has utilised scientific language or knowledge to frame the ideas of the text. The final panel, ‘Bodies Politic: Fictions of Science, War and Nationhood’, interrogated international ideas and uses of science in literature throughout the twentieth century. All papers were very warmly received and demonstrated the very real desire to bridge this long-established cultural divide.

The conference organisers, Katie McGettigan, Emilie Taylor-Brown and Jo Taylor (all from the Research Institute for Humanities, Keele University) were very grateful for the funding and support from Keele’s Bridging the Gap initiative, which enabled the conference to take place. A follow-up event will be hosted on Friday 25th May 2012 when Jonathan Lamb, Andrew W. Mellon Professor of the humanities at Vanderbilt University, will give a talk entitled ‘Scurvy and Nostalgia’. The event will take place in the Claus Moser Research Centre (CM0.12) at 1pm.

Katie McGettigan introduces the morning keynotes, Prof. David Amigoni and Prof. Sharon Ruston