I was delighted to be invited back to Broadcasting House to record a programme on Moths for the BBC World Service, alongside Prof Matthew Gandy (University of Cambridge, UK), Alma Sollis (Smithsonian, Washington DC), and artist Liina Lember.
For those of you who read German, I gave a preview of some of the issues we cover in during my curatorship of Real Scientists DE – from Islamic Poetry, to silk making, to citizen science, and how entomology can be racist. Everyone else will have to wait till November 10th, when the programme will be broadcast worldwide.
And here’s the German preview in my thread for “Real Scientists DE”:
It was a real privilege to curate the Twitter Account of Real Scientists DE for a week, where I had the opportunity to elaborate on why interdisciplinary work is absolutely crucial in tackling effectively challenges that we face in Science & Science Communication, from Covid 19, to Mental Health, to Ecology and the Biodiversity Crisis.
Below is a summary of some of the threads I compiled during that week, from Insects, to the uses and shortcomings of “Father of Science Communication/ Evolution/ Chemistry” etc Narratives – and how we can engage different parts of the public in controversial or seemingly unattractive or even apparently irrelevant topics in #SciComm – and through what.
Please do feel free to refer to them in your own teaching, retweet and share – and do contact me if you’d like me to speak more about any of these subjects at your school, seminar or public engagement initiative!
In 2022 Wondrium commissioned the 6-part course ‘The Folklore of Dreams’ which will become available exclusively via Audible later this year. Aimed at a general, non-academic audience, this six part audio book will explore how we have imagined, and told stories about dreaming. It will follow these stories, and the symbols, landscapes, heroes, and demons that populated them through the ages, looking at science, literature and storytelling, wherever it happened. This is what the blurb says:
Sleep and dreams have always been among the most mysterious, yet essential, aspects of the human condition, so it’s little wonder that a rich legacy of sleep-related myth and folklore has sprung from every culture across the world in every period in time. And these legends still shape pop culture today, linking, like an unseen thread, some of our most famous tales: the sleeping princesses of fairy tales, Morpheus in The Matrix, the nightmarish creatures in the dreamworld of Pan’s Labyrinth, the mirror worlds of Alice in Wonderland, or the Sandman myth in Neil Gaiman’s work of the same name.
The audiobook will be co-released with the latest release of Neil Gaiman’s Sandman – the precise release date is yet to be confirmed, but keep watching this space! Very grateful to the production team at Audible & at Bigdog studios, who really managed to record the entire thing in one sitting!
“For the Ancient Egyptians they were seen as receptacles for the soul, for the Aztecs they were used to tell the future and for the early Christians, they were an aid for reaching self-knowledge. And mirrors’ key role in the reflection of light led to the development of high-powered telescopes to explore the universe. No human invention has been so closely tied with our sense of self and the world around us. And yet mirrors also have a capacity to deceive us – so how much attention should we give them in our lives, and are we overly obsessed with our image in the mirror?”
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.
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.
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!)
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”.
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.
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