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Society for Literature & Science Newsletter
SLS2001, BUFFALO, NY October 11-14, 2001
The Accountability of Scientific and Medical Practices
The Hyatt Regency Buffalo Hotel
Special Conference Room Rates:
$109 Single or Double; $119 Triples or Quads
For up-to-date information on registration, lodging and
transportation, please consult the website:
Plenary Speaker: Elizabeth Grosz, Australian philosopher and
feminist, author of Volatile Bodies: Toward a Corporeal
Title: "Darwin and Ontology."
Featured Scholars/Titles of Presentations:
Karen Barad, Physicist and Chair of Women's Studies at Mt.
Holyoke College: "Digital Anatomies, Bodily Realities"
Michael Lynch, Chair of Science and Technology Studies at
Cornell: "Bodies, Trace Evidence, and Procedural
Accountability: The Continuity of Forensic Evidence."
David Wellbery, William Kurelmeyer Professor of German,
Johns Hopkins: "Niklas Luhmann's Conceptual Design."
We have had a wonderful response to the call for papers,
including work on digital media, medical humanities, narratives,
technologies, and mathematics and writing. Participants will be
notified presently of acceptance of proposals. There are still
some openings for presentations. Send your proposals for
Program Chair: Jim Swan firstname.lastname@example.org
Local Arrangements Chair: Jim Bono email@example.com
SLS provides a limited number of travel awards for underfunded
individuals attending the annual conference. Members of SLS
who participate in the annual conference may apply for travel
subsidies. An applicant should email name, title of SLS
presentation, any information about funding for the conference,
and an indication of how long one has been a member to Carol
Colatrella at firstname.lastname@example.org by September 1.
SLS officers will review the applications and approve funds for
one to three individuals. Each person awarded funds will be
presented with a $200 check at the conference.
The Bruns Essay Prize
The Bruns Graduate Essay Prize, in honor of Edward F. Bruns,
is awarded annually to the best essay written by a graduate
student member of the Society for Literature and Science.
Graduate students wishing to have their essays considered for
the $250 prize should submit them by September 1 to
N. Katherine Hayles
Department of English
University of California
Los Angeles, CA 90095-1530.
The Schachterle Essay Prize
Lance Schachterle, SLS founding president, has established an
annual prize of $250 in honor of his parents to recognize the
best new essay on literature and science written in English by a
nontenured scholar. Authors wishing to submit essays
(published or accepted for publication) should send them prior to
September 1 to the SLS Executive Director:
Georgia Institute of Technology
Atlanta, GA 30332-0165
Please label envelope "Schachterle Submission."
NOTE: Essay awards are presented during the Business
Meeting of the annual conference. One may submit only one
entry to one of the two essay prize competitions.
Participants in SLS2001 must be 2001 members of the society. A
regostratoin and membership forms are enclosed with this newsletter.
SLS2002: Advance Planning Notice
The 2002 SLS meeting will be held in Pasadena, CA, October
10-13. A Call for Papers, with more details about the meeting,
will be issued sometime next year. For now, please save the
dates, and start thinking about organizing a session or
contributing a paper. Any suggestions about themes, plenary
speakers, or anything else should be addressed to Jay
ELECTION for Member-at-Large--Candidate Statements:
Chris Amirault, Institute for Elementary and Secondary
Education and Departments of Education & Modern Culture and
Media, Brown University; degrees--PhD, Modern Studies,
Department of English, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. MA,
Modern Studies, UWM. BA, English and Computer Science,
My work has focused largely on the category of the patient in
post-WWII medicine and culture. I'm currently focusing on
narrativity and causality in explanatory rhetorics of psychiatry,
medicine, memoir, documentary, and journalism. My background
is in cultural studies, and my PhD program emphasized
interdisciplinary work in literary studies, anthropology, film and
television studies, and psychoanalytic theory.
Currently, as director for the Institute for Elementary and
Secondary Education at Brown, I oversee a professional
development organization for area teachers that emphasizes a
very wide range of disciplines across the arts and sciences; in
the last two weeks, for example, I taught a workshop on poetic
meter, form, and performance, hosted a regional conference for
high school teachers on the human genome project, and
cofacilitated a workshop on the epistemology of educational
technology. In addition, I am one of the founding members
of the Committee on Science and Technology Studies at Brown,
and I have taught "Introduction to Science Studies" both of
last two years.
I've been involved with the SLS for almost ten years, and I hope
to encourage a greater sense of collegial exchange both at the
annual conference and in other related contexts and spaces
during the year. For example, the presentation format currently
practiced at SLS needs tweaking: we could easily create a
space within which we can distribute work electronically prior to
I have a number of ideas about the conference that I would
propose to the membership and executive board. Specifically, I
would propose a reading session a la the English Institute at
Harvard, in which we discuss a short, significant piece of
scholarship we've all read that is broadly relevant to our
interests. (Donna Haraway's "Situated Knowledges" and Susan
Sontag's Illness as Metaphor leap to my own mind.) I would also
like to encourage the development of more opportunities to
discuss our teaching, in the form of syllabus exchanges, panel
discussions, and affiliations with other related professional
organizations. And though I could be convinced otherwise, I
stubbornly remain nostalgic for a plenary session, to determine
what we did and didn't accomplish and set a few goals for next
Finally, I would also advocate for the creation and maintenance
of a listserv discussion list that would enable us to continue and
advance the kinds of conversations among SLS members,
conversations that bring us back to the SLS each year.
Bernice Hausman, Associate Professor, English and WomenÕs
Studies, Virginia Tech; degrees--Ph.D. in Feminist Studies and
Critical Theory, University of Iowa. M.A. in English, University of
Iowa.B.A. in Literature, Yale University.
I have been involved with SLS since 1992. My research focuses
generally on concepts of sex and gender in medicine, literature,
and popular culture, and I call myself a "cultural studies"
because I use technics of literary and cultural analysis to
investigate how ideas about the sexed body circulate in these
I am interested in developing more attention within SLS to the
medical humanities, but also to reinvigorating traditional areas
of SLS scholarship that seem to have diminished in the last few
annual conferences. SLS conferences have always been for me
intense and gratifying occasions to share my work with
like-minded colleagues who always have excellent suggestions
for expansion, clarification, and (best of all) other sources. I
think that we can improve this aspect of the conference function
by slight manipulations of the conference timetable to build in
occasions for interest group meetings and seminar sessions to
share work in progress. I'd also like to see more general interest
discussion sessions on topics such as feminist science studies,
computers and the humanities, rhetorical approaches to
science, (fill in the blank here).
In the next few years, I believe that SLS will increasingly
confront problems concerning conference venues and costs,
and we will have to come up with creative solutions to these
problems. In addition, I think we might establish a role in the
wider context of new research in biotechnology, bioinformatics,
and genetic engineering, a role in which we could articulate the
distinctiveness and value of the kind of analysis that we offer as
"readers" of science in culture.
Arkady Plotnitsky, English, Purdue University:
I earned my
M.Sc. in mathematics from the University of Leningrad and my
Ph.D. in Comparative Literature from the University of
Pennsylvania. I am a Professor of English and the Director of
Theory and Cultural Studies Program at Purdue University.
In my view the future of the SLS is, first and foremost, in building
upon the extraordinary achievements of the organization as it
has expanded its scope from more narrow investigations of
science and literature to broader concerns with the relationships
between science and culture.
The SLS is now actively engaged, in literary contexts and more
generally, with the history and sociology of science and
medicine, especially the investigation of the problematics of
gender and previously unexplored ethnic and cultural
dimensions of science and culture. Within this broad agenda,
one can think of several specific areas of enhanced emphasis
and new development. Thus, the significance and role of
mathematics may be given more space and more sustained
attention, and one can think of a variety of panels, which will
address the relationships among mathematics, philosophy,
literature and the arts, and culture at large. For example, we
might organize a panel on the work of women-mathematicians,
such as Amalie Emmy Noether, one of the greatest
mathematicians of this century. Such a panel could bring
together investigations in such areas as the philosophy of
mathematics (and the role of mathematics in philosophy as a
field), 20th century European history from 1900 to the Second
World War (which Noether's work and life reflects), and gender
The SLS would benefit by inviting more mathematicians and
scientists as plenary speakers or as commentators on other
plenary speakers. This will further enhance the recognition of
the SLS in the scientific community. We also want to amplify our
efforts in promoting the SLS more actively in the academic
community and beyond. Science is an irreducible part of our
many cultures, even though the task of bringing some of them
together often remains as formidable as ever, but also as
necessary as ever. The SLS has a very special role to play in
this task, and our many cultures, in the academy and beyond,
would benefit from knowing more about the work we do.
Please vote for one candidate for Member-at-Large for a
two-year term (2001-2003); the winner of the election will
succeed Luis Arata.
_______ Chris Amirault
_______ Bernice Hausman
_______ Arkady Plotnitsky
Please mail this ballot to
686 Cherry St.
Atlanta, GA 30332-0165
Please note that an SLS2001 regisrtation form and a form for
configurations subscription/SLS membership should be enclosed of these
items, please notify Carol Colatrella at
Juggling Nothing Stabilizes: the brain imprints
movement shape. Each toss
arcs slightly higher, lower,
a fraction sideways,
each an infinitesimal mistake,
the trick not to catch it, fix it,
but keep it moving, bend into
elliptical orbit the recurring
balls, rings, teacups, tennis racquets
or flaming torches that take off
and come to hand. What jugglers learn:
not pattern or precision, but ways
to compensate, drop and still
recover. A kind of natural selection:
each move or generation improvised,
an accident the new routine.
What jugglers have to practice is letting fall.
Winifred Hughes, Princeton, New Jersey
SLS membership questionnaire, distributed spring 2001,
summary of 75 responses (complete results posted at
I. Communications: Decodings: Most members find the
newsletter very useful and consult it regularly. Litsci-l (listserv):
Only 30 responded using regularly or occasionally, with some
noting few postings. SLS Website: About half of the respondents
used the website, finding it somewhat useful. 37 respondents
favor electronic transmission of Decodings and other messages
instead of hard copy, 26 prefer email in addition to a mailed hard
copy. Two-thirds of the respondents do not approve of improved
website as the sole means of communication.
Recommendations for improving the website include providing
links to members' websites, descriptions of member's interests,
abstracts of work in progress, contributed book reviews,
previous meeting programs, abstracts from conference papers,
calls for papers, a membership directory open to public viewing,
a chat room, venue for all-year meeting, and an electronic
II. Meetings: Most respondents prefer current meeting schedule
(US conference in fall and a second meeting overseas in spring
of every other year). Most prefer an urban or university
environment, with hotel and airfare costs as significant as
setting. Most respondents thought $100-149 an acceptable
double-occupancy rate for hotels. Answering the question of
how to raise funds to cover high AV costs, some recommended
increasing registration fees and more recommended charging
equipment users. Half of the respondents prefer the current
conference program of multiple breakout sessions during the
day, and two or three plenary sessions in the evenings. Almost
half prefer one or more plenary sessions during the day.
Two-thirds of the respondents preferred scheduling panels on
Sunday, and one-third stopping the conference on Saturday.
Respondents split on whether to schedule more plenary
sessions and to limit presentations to theme. Two-thirds desired
to have abstracts available in advance of the meeting,
preferably on a website about two weeks before the conference.
About half of the respondents preferred submission deadline to
be set at 4 months before conference.
III. Configurations: About one-third of the respondents had
made use of electronic access to Configurations. Almost all
found the annual SLS bibliography very useful or somewhat
useful, and about two-thirds agreed with a proposal to move it to
the SLS website. About one-third also want a print version of
IV. Other: Many individuals suggested ways of improving
recruitment/retention of SLS membership: advertising in journals
and other publications; hosting joint meetings with other
societies; trying to connect with poets and other writers and
more international scholars.