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!)
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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”.
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!
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: firstname.lastname@example.org & email@example.com
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.
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!
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.
‘Science, Imagination & the Big Questions’ Templeton Panel: Why we should avoid warfare rhetoric in SciComm
As part of a Templeton Foundation funded panel on Science, Imagination and the Big Questions Panel at the York Festival of Ideas, I had the chance to explore together with Tom McLeish and Amanda Rees the really very long history of warfare narratives in the history, and historiography of science – tracing it to its presence in Science Communication during the Covid-19 pandemic – a recording of the talk is now available on YouTube.
This panel discussion reflected on our research of the past 15 months into Covid-19 narratives in the cultural context of the United Kingdom, where the preference for them has a complex political history, and, for that reason, strong religious overtones, but also put it into historical perspective.
We were delighted to receive positive feedback from the audience at the event, who engaged in a fascinating discussion following our talk, and wrote blogs about our panel. This panel continues our outreach, engagement and impact work in a variety of settings, as we recently presented this research at a seminar the Nuffield Department for Primary Care, and our work has has now been used by several Universities in the UK and US for teaching students in science communication, and journalism – as well as in Science Communication seminars for Church of England leaders.
I was interviewed for a recent Guardian article about misquoting Lewis Carroll after a set of commemorative coins appeared with quotations certainly not taken from Lewis Carroll or his famous novel. Those coins were not a singularity: in this anniversary year of Through the Looking-Glass, several National organisations’ social media accounts had fallen into the same trap, and adorned their posts with quotes normally found on Alice-themed memes and merchandise across the web – but not in Carroll’s books.
The article mentioned a resource available via the Lewis Carroll Review, compiled by Lenny de Rooy, for authors wanting to double-check if a quote really is from Carroll’s novels, or an internet phenomenon.
I am very excited to announce that the Call for Papers for the Through Looking-Glass Sesquicentenary Conference is now live!
The conference will be fully-online, and hosted by the University of York from 4 – 5th November 2021.
Our confirmed keynote speakers will be historian of photography, and curator at the National Gallery of Art, Dr Diane Waggoner, and award-winning author, collector, and long-standing Carroll scholar Charlie Lovett.
The Looking-Glass itself will be the focal point of the conference. Aiming to explore the significance of the mirror in literature, science, theology, art and other fields, it will explore any facets of this concept that were relevant to ideas that shaped Carroll’s
work, or, which have since been integral to its interpretation at different points in time.
We particularly also invite reflections from practitioners, including creators of adaptations of the text, professionals in translation, museum studies, librarians, fashion, as well as from performers and interpreters, authors, poets and illustrators.
Abstracts for presentations of up to 300 words, including up to 5 keywords, should be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org by 15 June 2021, and contributors will be invited to submit proposals for publication after the conference.
For more information please have a look at our shiny new website!
We are very much looking forward to your contributions – and to seeing you all in November!