Wrapping up 2021 – and looking ahead to 2022

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In 2021 I have most of all been really grateful that, in a still immensely challenging year, I had the opportunity to pick up some of the postponed projects of 2020, and also pursue new opportunities, expanding on my research in science communication, history of science and literature.

Amongst others, I had the opportunity to discuss both my research and practice in science communication, informed by the history of science, at COP26 and the Bristol Festival of Technology.

I saw a long-term project developing the “Adventures of Manuscripts” series with French-German TV channel Arte finally came to fruition, with all four episodes finally airing this year, after many Covid delays.

The year 2021 was also the anniversary of Lewis Carroll’s Through the Looking-Glass. we held a major online conference, and are looking forward this year to publishing a new Companion to Through the Looking-Glass, including many of the conference contributions – and more (more soon!).

I had the opportunity to speak about so many difference aspects of Alice and Looing-Glass from Fashion, to commemorative coins with the Guardian, the Yorkshire Post, and Germany’s Sueddeutsche Zeitung.

Finally, I am beyond honoured to be joining Oxford’s Continuing Education Department for taking on their summer course ‘Lewis Carroll’s Oxford and the Surprising Histories of Alice’s Wonderland‘ – and there are more news, linked with that (more on that, also, soon!).

Here’s to 2022!

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Science Communication, Faith & the Climate Crisis: In Conversation at COP26

I will be one of the participants of “Catholics at CoOP26”, where I will reflect on science communication at COP26, effective climate communication, and how to overcome the challenges in this field, sharing insight from my work at the ECLAS project and science-religion narratives in Science Communication.

I am honoured to be in conversation alongside: 

  • Dr Lorna Gold is a climate campaigner and author. She is vice-chair of the Laudato Si’ Movement, and a member of the Vatican Commission on the post-Covid World.  
  • Dr Carmody Grey is Assistant Professor of Catholic Theology at Durham University. She specialises in theology and science, with particular interests in life sciences, ecology and evolutionary biology.  
  • Dr Franziska Kohlt is a researcher in science communication and the history of science at the University of York and an ECLAS postdoctoral research associate.
  • Fr Joshtrom Kurveethadam is Coordinator of Ecology and Creation at the Vatican Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development. 
  • Cardinal Pedro Barreto (To be confirmed) is Archbishop of Huancayo, Peru, vice-president of the Pan-Amazonian Ecclesial Network, and an advocate for the rights of indigenous peoples. 

The panel will be chaired by Bishop John Arnold, Bishop of Salford and lead bishop for environmental issues for the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales. The meeting will be livestreamed & recorded.

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Lewis Carroll’s Oxford & the Surprising Histories of Alice’s Wonderland course, University of Oxford

From June 2022, I am taking on leading this fantastic programme at the University of Oxford’s Continuing Education Department (you can peruse the course contents here). The course will offer a fresh, thought-provoking take on the place of Lewis Carroll & his most famous books in their time, and their continuing appeal in ours. It will explore the role of Oxford in its creation, but also how looking at the Victorian contexts that inspired it – from science and medicine to music and logic – but also how that can help us navigate intellectual and social challenges of the past, but, hopefully, also illuminate our own – and teach us how to think, learn, talk and write about them.

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Lewis Carroll & Looking-Glass feature in the Yorkshire Post

A lovely feature about Lewis Carroll & his Yorkshire connections appeared in the Yorkshire Post yesterday – for which I was interviewed. They give a shout-out to our Looking-Glass Sesquicentenary conference also (registration is now open btw! Have a look at our programme too!)

You can find the article on the Yorkshire Post website (sadly paywalled) or you can have a cheeky look at my Instagram for pictures of the print article.

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Science, Imagination & Communication at Bristol Festival of Technology and more

I’m incredible honoured to be discussion why Science, Imagination and Communication are inseparable in conversations with two brilliant physicists at events over the next two weeks recordings of the Science & Imagination event on MacDonald and the Bristol Festival are now available.

I will be exploring this theme together with Professor of Natural Philosophy and Fellow of the Royal Society, Prof Tom McLeish through the life and works of George MacDonald – a trained scientist, theological thinker, educator and writer. Even though he is recognised in his literary influence, as the major source of inspiration for H.G. Wells, the Inklings J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis – and often credited with the conversion of the latter to Christianity – we rarely speak about his as a scientist, because of preconceptions that lead us to believe the two as contradictory or mutually exclusive. Exploring the ways in which MacDonald believed they were, rather, mutually constructive, can prepare us to challenge and interrogate our own ways of understanding science, and how we think we know “science” and “scientific fact” – especially, when these are understood as opposition to “fantasy” and “storytelling”.

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‘The Adventures of Manuscripts’ – New TV documentary

After a long pandemic delay, French/German prime culture channel ARTE’s new series – L’Aventure des manuscrits/ Das Abenteuer der Manuskripte – is now out and available for streaming – and I am in it!

The first instalment is dedicated to the history of Alice in Wonderland’s manuscript – and I appear in the film speak about the writing and publishing history of the book. Filmed at Oxford just before the pandemic, the documentary stars even the famous Oxford Dodo, thanks to the generosity of the Oxford University Museum for Natural History who let the team film there.

The documentary is available in French and German (all interviewees speak English, and if you look up the documentary on YouTube, you can enable auto-translated English subtitles!). It’s very beautifully produced, and I hope you enjoy it!

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CFP: Insects in the Popular Imagination of the 21st Century [updated]

Simon Bacon and myself are excited to circulate a CFP for a collection with the preliminary title ‘Insects in the Public Imagination of the 21st Century’.

The planets last hope, messengers from Hell, environmental revenge or the post-human future insects are vital to our continued existence on the Earth yet trigger all manner of anxieties around the precarious nature and integrity of our psychological and physical selves. This collection looks at the place of insects in the popular imagination, across cultures and mediums in the 21st Century and what it might say about our relationship to the natural world and possible post/non- human futures.

At this stage just send a notice of interest or a 300 word abstract if you’ve got something ready by the end of March 2022, final essay wouldn’t be needed til 2024.

Message or mail us on: baconetti@googlemail.com & franziska.kohlt@york.ac.uk

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Curiouser and Curiouser! Süddeutsche Zeitung on Alice at the V&A

If you’re in Germany, and you haven’t had a chance to see the V&A exhibition, enjoy this preview with a commentary from me on why Alice is still the perfect medium to push boundaries – in fashion, politics and elsewhere.

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Interview for Willow Audiobooks ‘Alice’s Day’ Podcast

Willow Audiobooks are celebrating the sesquicentenary of Through the Looking-Glass AND Alice’s Day with releasing a new audiobook of Looking-Glass and an hour-long podcast to accompany it, for which Willow founder Stephen interviewed myself and Charlie Lovett – to explore the history of the books in the context of the author’s biography – from some angles that haven’t so frequently been explored, such as Carroll’s faith and his interest in science and social activism – tune in and find out more!

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New documentary: The Manuscript’s Secret History/ L’Aventure des Manuscrits

A new series of literature documentaries focusing on the histories of the manuscripts of famous works – “The Manuscript’s Secret” – will be coming to French-German TV channel Arte in 2021 – starting on 29th of August with the Alice episode. The documentary was originally filmed in January 2020, but production was held up by the pandemic.

I make an appearance in the Lewis Carroll episode to speak about Lewis Carroll’s interest in science shaped his life and writing, and to show how Oxford’s influence on Alice is revealed in the book’s manuscript. I also discuss some of the afterlife of Alice and its manuscript alongside Edward Wakeling – editor, author and Carroll scholar extraordinaire – who will offer a rare glance into his fascinating collection of Lewis Carroll documents.

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