Insects Through the Looking-Glass: Exhibition at Story Museum Oxford & BSHS Outreach Grant

With support from the Royal Entomological Society you’ll be able to discover the world of literary insects, from mythology to Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland novels, Roald Dahl’s James and the Giant Peach and M.G. Leonard’s Beetle Boy trilogy at Oxford’s Story Museum this summer! The exhibition will be on throughout National Insect Week to Oxford’s annual Alice’s Day, and run parallel to the Tolkien: Maker of Middle-Earth exhibition at the Bodleian Library.

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You’ll be able to delve into the history of entomology and the creation of the characters of some of your favourite children’s books, and discover how much we learn about the true biology of insects from them in interactive exhibits supported by the British Society for the History of Science, who have generously awarded us with their Outreach Grant. The exhibition will not only feature real Looking-Glass Insects, but will also be accompanied by numerous events – from live insect handling to school & illustration workshops, and readings my M.G. Leonard herself – as well as a museum trail. On the 23th of June, Dimitra Fimi will talk about J.R.R. Tolkien’s Insects in a lecture entitled ‘Wings, Antennae, and Stings: Tolkien’s Creepy Crawlies’On the 7th of July – Alice’s Day, and the final day of the exhibition before the Museum closes for refurbishment – there will be a talk entitled ‘A bug-hunt in Wonderland: the symbolism and science of Alice’s insects and their transformations’ by the curators Chris Jeffs & Franziska Kohlt.

List of events:

For the academic side of our project, we will be presenting a panel on Cross-Disciplinary Public Engagement at the Annual Conference of the British Society for Literature and Science (Panel 8B). We will shine a light the different sides of a cross-disciplinary collaboration in a panel discussion with Christopher Jeffs (University of Oxford), research scientist at the Department of Zoology, Luke Tilley (Royal Entomological Society), Deputy CEO and Director of Outreach, Katherine Ford, Science Museum London/ University of Sheffield Libraries Engagement, and Maya Leonard, author of ‘Beetle Boy’ trilogy and ‘Beetle Collectors Handbook’.

To create a future resource for future science communicators and everyone more widely involved in outreach and engagement on the intersections between the sciences and the humanities, we will be conducting a survey on how to create a successful cross-disciplinary outreach event – do participate & share widely!

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