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'Science in the Archives', BSLS Winter Symposium

Verity Burke & Clare Stainthorp

Saturday, 14 November 2015 from 10:00 am to 7:00 pm (GMT)

'Science in the Archives', BSLS Winter Symposium

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Archival research has long been a mainstay of literature and science as a discipline, challenging the boundaries of what can be read as text and excavating long-submerged concepts and connections. The recent growth in collaborative doctoral awards and collections-based PhDs, alongside research strands such as the AHRC’s Science in Culture, however, demonstrate a need to consider more fully the implications of this kind of investigation. The BSLS’s Winter Symposium therefore provides an opportunity for literature and science researchers, at all points in their career, to reflect and build upon the successes and challenges of finding ‘Science in the Archives’.

The majority of us use special collections and archival materials in the course of our literature and science research, but we are not always encouraged to reflect upon the ramifications of doing so. This symposium will provide an important opportunity to stimulate and facilitate much needed discussion of the challenges as well as successes of finding science in the archives.


We would like to thank the British Society for Literature and Science, and the University of Reading Museums and Special Collections, Centre for Collections Based Research, and the Department of English Literature for generously supporting this event.


Please send all enquiries to the organisers, Verity Burke and Clare Stainthorp, at and




10:00-10:30 Registration and coffee


10:30-11:45  Science in the Archives

 Kate Simpson, ‘Understanding the ontology of the archive’ – Edinburgh Napier University

 Alison Moulds, ‘Multi-vocality in the Medical Press’ – University of Oxford

 Felicity Henderson, ‘Translating early-modern science: the archive of Robert Hooke’ – University of Exeter

Rachel Eames, ‘The value of archival research to students’ – University of Birmingham

Bella Hoffman, ‘Primary Source Research at a Distance: An Undergraduate Experience’ Mount Allison University

Ann Loveridge, ‘The Two-Faced Scientific Image of Late-Victorian Vivisection Literature’ – Canterbury Christ Church University


11:45-12:15 Coffee break


12:15-13:45  Questions and Archives

Guy Baxter and Fiona Melhuish - University of Reading

Roundtable followed by Q&A and opportunity to look at archival materials.



13:45-14:45 Lunch


14:45-15:45  Projects in the Archives

Katherine Ford, ‘Monstrosity, hybridity and mythology: the construction of prehistoric creatures by Fellows of the Royal Society’ – Science Museum

Janine Rogers, ‘Codicology, Literature and Science: The Manuscripts of Chaucer’s Treatise on the Astrolabe’ – Mount Allison University

Matthew Wale, ‘(Re)Constructing Scientific Communities: Recovering Scientific Practice through Nineteenth-Century Natural History Periodicals’ – University of Leicester


15:45-16:15 Coffee break


16.15-17:15  Scientific Institutions

Richard Aspin, ‘How literature inhabits the scientific manuscript and archival holdings of the Wellcome Library’ – Wellcome Library

Mike Finn, 'On the value of provincially curated collections' - Museum of the History of Science, Technology and Medicine at University of Leeds


17:15-18:00 Key note

John Holmes,Building the Book of Nature: The Poetics of the Natural History Museum’ – University of Birmingham


18:00-18:30 Wine reception

19:00 Informal conference dinner

Have questions about 'Science in the Archives', BSLS Winter Symposium? Contact Verity Burke & Clare Stainthorp

When & Where

Museum of English Rural Life
University of Reading
Redlands Road
RG1 5EX Reading
United Kingdom

Saturday, 14 November 2015 from 10:00 am to 7:00 pm (GMT)

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Verity Burke & Clare Stainthorp

In association withe the British Society for Literature and Science:

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