Decodings Winter 2014


Newsletter of the Society for Literature, Science, and the Arts                                                

Winter 2014, Vol. 23, No.1

*SLSA 2014 in Dallas: “Fluid”

*Travel Awards, Essay Prizes, Book Prize

* Update of SLSA Website—Content Welcome

*SLSA Bibliography—Contributors Needed

*Appointment of Graduate Student Liaisons to Executive Committee

*Candidate Statements for 2nd VP and Member-at-large
*SLSA EU: New Contact Information & June 2014 Conference

*British Society for Literature and Science Conference, June 2014
*Renewing Membership, Subscribing to Listserv


Sponsored by Southern Methodist University, Dallas, Texas

The 28th Annual Meeting will be held at the Sheraton Dallas, October 8-12, 2014


Site Organizer: Rajani Sudan

Program Committee Chair: Robert Markley   Member: Pamela Gossin

For this year’s conference, we encourage presentations, papers, and artworks that explore fluid as a word, idea, and process applied to borderlands, canvases (and other media in other art forms), philosophical indeterminacies, or dynamic systems. See the conference website for more details.

The concept of fluid in the arts, sciences, and humanities evokes multiple, overlapping definitions that work across and around the edges of disciplinary boundaries.  Fluid can describe the property of flow, particles that move freely among themselves and that form and deform under pressure.  It can refer to liquids both bodily and cultural, for example, blood and capital. It evokes anything that is not solid, fixed, or stable.

For this year’s conference, we encourage presentations, papers, and artworks that explore fluid as a word, idea, and process applied to borderlands, canvases (and other media in other art forms), philosophical indeterminacies, or dynamic systems, to offer a few suggestions.  This is a deliberately expansive topic intended to appeal to a broad range of work in fields including–

  • bioarts •  critical media theory                •  bioethics
  • medical humanities •  new frontiers in digital media             •  animal studies
  • liminal studies •    rhetoric                                 •  gender and/in science studies
  • science and critical race studies   •  environmentalism and ecological studies
  • history and philosophy of science

This list is suggestive, not exhaustive.  Other topics falling within the boundaries of SLSA work will also be welcome.

Abstracts of 150-250 words should be posted by APRIL 30 at (An announcement will be made on LITSCI-L when the submission site is online.) Please include: Full name, affiliation, email address, and snail mail address.  Panel proposals must include full contact information.

2014 Travel Awards Members of SLSA who present at the annual conference may apply for travel subventions to the 2014 meeting. An applicant should email name, title of SLSA presentation, an indication of how long one has been a member of SLSA, and any information about funding for the conference to the Executive Director at by August 1. Please provide estimated travel expenses and the amount of support (if any) anticipated from other sources. If you have received travel support from SLSA in the past, please include information about that support (when and how much). SLSA officers will review applications and approve funds for as many as our budget permits; preference will be given to students and those most in need. Each person awarded funds will be presented with a check for $200 at the conference business meeting.

2014 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, Science, and the Arts. Graduate students wishing to have their essays considered for the $500 prize should submit them by August 1 to N. Katherine Hayles, Department of English, Duke University, via electronic mail to Please send a copy of your formatted essay as a PDF or Word file, or send a pointer to a URL where the essay is posted.

2014 Schachterle Essay Prize: Lance Schachterle, founding president of the society, 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 non-tenured scholar. Eligible authors wishing to submit essays (published or accepted for publication) should send them prior to August 1 to SLSA’s Executive Director, Carol Colatrella, LMC, Georgia Institute of Technology via electronic mail to Please send a copy of your formatted essay as a PDF or Word file, or send a pointer to a URL where the essay is posted.

The 2014 Michelle Kendrick Memorial Book Prize will be awarded to the best academic book on literature, science, and the arts published by an SLSA member. The prize will be announced at the 2014 SLSA conference. Established in fall 2006 in memory of Michelle Kendrick of Washington State University-Vancouver, an energetic, well-loved scholar of literature and science and long-time member of SLSA, the Kendrick Prize is open to any book of original scholarship on literature, science, and the arts published between January 1 and December 31 of the prior year. The winner will receive $250.00. To be considered for this year’s Kendrick Prize, please send three copies of your book by June 1 to: Professor Robert Markley, Department of English, 608 South Wright Street, University of Illinois, Urbana, IL 61801.

Donations for the Kendrick Prize (checks made out to SLSA, with Kendrick Prize in memo) can be sent to: Carol Colatrella, SLSA Executive Director, LCC, Georgia Tech, 686 Cherry Street, Atlanta, GA 30332-0165

Note: all of the awards described above are presented during the Business Meeting of the annual fall conference. One may submit only one entry to one of the two essay prize competitions.

SLSA Lifetime Achievement Award: The SLSA Executive Committee each spring appoints a committee to seek and review nominations for the SLSA Lifetime Achievement award. Members of this committee include a former President of SLSA, who will serve as chair, one currently serving member at large, and one other SLSA member. The Lifetime Achievement Awards Committee will send out an announcement asking members to nominate candidates whose significant, interdisciplinary scholarship is exemplary of SLSA. The committee members will nominate candidates and should collaborate on reviewing nominations from the membership to select a recipient of the award or to decide not to make an award for that year. The Lifetime Achievement award will be presented at the business meeting of the annual meeting. This year’s Lifetime Achievement award committee will be chaired by Hugh Crawford ( and includes Suzanne Black and Susan Squier.

UPDATED SLSA WEBSITE–Electronic Resources Coordinator:  Send suggestions for additional content for the website to Wayne Miller at Wayne will be supervising a designer updating the website in the coming months.

SLSA CONTRIBUTORS TO BIBLIOGRAPHY NEEDED: Bibliographers Sue Hagedorn and Jennifer Rhee ask for additional contributors. Contact Jenni Rhee at


Congratulations to Nicole Keller Day, Department of English, Northeastern University, and Kari Nixon, Department of English, Rice University, who are the first graduate student liaisons to be appointed to the Executive Committee of the Society for Literature, Science, and the Arts (SLSA). As liaisons, Nicole and Kari will assist with society initiatives, particularly with the annual conference, and will participate in meetings and online discussions held by the Executive Committee. Nicole has been appointed to serve a one-year term (2014-2015), and Kari a two-year term (2014-2016). Their terms will begin now and continue until through the Executive Committee meeting in their final year of service.

SLSA ELECTIONS: All 2014 members in good standing will receive invitations from Hopkins Press to vote.


2nd Vice President

Marcel O’Gorman, Associate Professor of English, Director, Critical Media Lab, University of Waterloo

I have been attending SLSA meetings since 1996, when I was a grad student at University of Florida. I realized immediately that the organization could serve as a sort of intellectual flagship for me. My dissertation was heavily influenced by scholars I met at SLSA, and my first book was peer reviewed by SLSA members. My most recent book, forthcoming in the “Posthumanities” series at University of Minnesota Press, was born and raised at SLSA conferences. I should also mention that I have made many a friend through SLSA, and I have introduced the conference to many friends, colleagues, and students. Even my kids could tell you what SLSA is all about. My engagement with SLSA peaked in 2011 when I hosted the conference in Kitchener/Waterloo, Ontario. I offered to take on this challenge out of a sense of commitment to, and gratitude for, the organization. It was a Herculean task to get people to come to Canada, travel from Toronto’s airport to Kitchener, find adequate hotel space and catering, organize multiple downtown panel venues, curate an art exhibition, and coordinate the entire thing with a local public arts biennial. But it was one of the most satisfying projects I have ever undertaken.

As embodied in that conference, my vision for SLSA is to continue providing a growing membership with a stimulating conference of high intellectual quality and high energy that serves as a strong generative force for research and collaboration. The journal should adhere to the very same standards, while maintaining a quality and consistency that will make it a go-to publication for scholars in the sciences, arts, and humanities. I hope to see SLSA continue its commitment to the arts, which was a primary focus of the 2011 conference, and which seems to have gained momentum, given the growth of artist members and the quality of artwork and arts-based panels at last year’s conference. That said, as an interdisciplinary organization, SLSA must always work to strike a balance between L, S, and A. I would like to see us continue to embrace literary scholars and writers, while seeking more involvement from the scientific community, perhaps by asking key scientists to serve as keynote speakers, organize panels, or contribute in other ways. I have some ideas about this, which I can share as time allows. Another balance to strike is that of grad students vs. faculty members. I would like to see SLSA continue its outreach to grad students, both at the conference and through the journal, but without sacrificing the organization’s reputation and the intellectual rigor of the conference and journal. Finally, on the topic of balance, I hope that conference attendance (and organization membership) will continue to grow, but without an exponential increase in the number of panels and speakers. People should feel compelled to attend the conference even if they are not presenting a paper.

Nigel Rothfels, Director, Office of Undergraduate Research, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee

I attended my first SLSA (then SLS) meeting in 2004 in Durham, North Carolina.  That year Richard Nash organized the first “animal stream” for the conference, and I participated in a panel with Susan McHugh (Univ. of New England) and Jonathan Burt (Independent Scholar, UK), with Matt Cartmill (Duke Univ.) responding.  Up to that meeting, those interested in presenting work in Animal Studies either attended a conference focusing specifically on the emerging field or spoke in an isolated panel at a broader disciplinary venue.  The stream was a compelling idea – it allowed for a critical discussion to develop over a number of panels while also exposing those in the stream to the broader currents of the conference; on top of all that, the meeting was engaging and fun, and I knew I had found an intellectual home.  Now, ten years later, having co-organized (with Richard Grusin) the 2012 SLSA conference in Milwaukee, having served on the Lifetime Achievement Award committee, having begun to serve on the editorial board of Configurations, and having enjoyed some great bands, I would like to serve the Society as Second Vice President.  My vision for SLSA is that it continue to be a site of intellectual innovation that welcomes emerging areas of study into a truly transdisciplinary environment, that it continue to support the intellectual contributions of graduate students and serious independent scholars and artists in the collegial fashion that has been one of the organization’s hallmarks, and that it continue to cherish its traditions while being enthusiastic about change and new possibilities.

Arielle Saiber, Associate Professor of Italian, Bowdoin College

As a scholar of medieval and Renaissance Italian literature who also works in the history of science, I was fortunate to find SLSA in 1999 while still a graduate student.  The intellectual community I found there and the warmth and genuine interest with which people engaged each other’s work made such an impression on me that I not only became a regular conference attendee, but served as a Member-at-Large (2004-2007), co-organized the 2007 SLSA (Portland, Maine), co-edited a special issue for Configurations (“Mathematics and the Imagination,” 2009), review essays for Configurations, and encourage innovative scholars and artists I meet in other venues to join the Society.  I am indebted to countless SLSAians who have inspired me by their work, and encouraged me to pursue my interests with rigor and conviction.  As 2nd VP I would be honored to find ways to continue to support and even expand this remarkably collegial environment to members old and new.

My research, nearly all of which reflects interdisciplinary work engaging the sciences, has been supported by fellowships from the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, Harvard’s Villa I Tatti, the NEH, the Istituto Italiano per gli Studi Filosofici, and the Mellon Foundation.  I have served on the MLA’s executive committee of the Division of Literature and Science (2003-2007), and have been involved with the digital humanities since 2006, when I built the crowd-sourced, online archive Dante Today: Citings and Sightings of Dante’s Work in Contemporary Culture. With the rapid changes and challenges all branches of academia and the arts are experiencing, SLSA has the opportunity to be a lighthouse in the storm, serving, as it always has, as a model for excellent interdisciplinary scholarship, conversation, and collaboration.  I would like to see SLSA continue to grow and lend its hand in helping to guide and support interdisciplinary scholars and arts practitioners; interdisciplinary departments, programs, academic institutes, and centers for the arts; as well as publishers and granting agencies.


David Cecchetto, PhD, Assistant Professor, Dept. of Humanities, York University (Toronto)

My intellectual interests are sharply focused on the overlaps, liminalities, and intersections of technology and digital culture, with an emphasis on the insights that an increased focus on sound (and aurality) can offer. In order to address the specificities of this problematic, my approach is interdisciplinary and often collaborative. As such, I am working on theoretical humanities-based scholarly writing projects, research collaborations with computer scientists and engineers, artistic production (specifically installation, sound, digital, and conceptual streams), and collaborative “practice-based research” performances. These various activities are all underwritten by an explicit engagement with the “nonhuman turn” in contemporary critical theory, motivated via a common concern for the material specificity of contemporary technologies, and connected by their eschewal of siloed knowledge in favour of multiplicitous and contingent approaches to knowledge-production.

I began attending the annual SLSA conference as a graduate student, and have continued to do so since. My initial impression—since confirmed—was of a society that leverages the collective magnanimity of its members to foster scholarship that combines intellectual rigor with a keen attention to the anachronistic. I hope to see the society to continue to grow from this position, and the recent efforts to not only include but engage the vagaries of artistic production make me particularly optimistic that it will do so. I’d be honored to contribute to this future in whatever small way I might in the capacity of a member-at-large.

Rebecca Perry, Ph.D. Candidate at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Department of History, Anthropology and Science, Technology & Society

I have been a member of SLSA for three years, and the most recent conference at Notre Dame was the most interesting, diverse and engaging yet. SLSA is such a wonderful group for someone like myself, who started as an artist, then trained in media studies and has evolved into an STS scholar focused on the cultural history of technology. My work on 3D modeling, digital objects and computing is deeply interdisciplinary, which is why I feel at home at SLSA. In terms of practical experience, I have helped organize a yearlong series of multi-session conferences on visual thinking and representation in the arts and sciences. These were essentially extended conversations on representation and problem-solving, among groups of artists, architects, engineers, writers and scientists. Those very exciting sessions were very much in the spirit of SLSA conferences. As a member-at-large I would work to continue those kinds of conversations at future SLSA conferences, and work to represent the diverse points of view that make up an SLSA event. As a still-practicing graphic artist, I can also help with other practical aspects of conference organization, including poster, web and program design. I would be delighted to have the opportunity to contribute to the organization and to serve SLSA members as a member-at-large.

Atia Sattar, Provost’s Postdoctoral Scholar in the Humanities, Department of Comparative Literature, University of Southern California

SLSA has been an integral part of my intellectual development as an STS and Medical Humanities scholar. I attended my first SLSA during my 2nd year of graduate school in 2007, and seven years later, as a post-doc, I am still excited to attend the conference and share my research with my SLSA colleagues every single year. I love how welcoming the society is to young scholars and the valuable feedback it offers its colleagues. My book project (portions of which have been presented at SLSA), Visceral Aesthetics: Figuring Bodies in Medicine, explores the interplay between science and aesthetics in the nineteenth century, at the moment when medicine was becoming specialized as a scientific discipline. In other research, I consider the intersections of contemporary science, popular culture, and the media. I have published in Isis, Configurations, and The Journal of Medical Humanities (forthcoming). As an aesthetics scholar, I am so excited about the increasing incorporation of the arts and artists in the SLSA. My vision for the society is one that continues its support for scholars at every level, its publication of significant scholarship in the journal Configurations and a new upcoming book series, and its fostering of interdisciplinarity and community beyond the academy. As a young academic deeply committed to the future of our graduates, I have served as graduate representative for both the ACLA (American Comparative Literature Association) and MLA (Modern Language Association), but I have been waiting for a long time to be in a position to contribute actively to the SLSA.  I really do believe we have something special here, and I am very eager to be a part of its organizational structure.


The European Society for Literature, Science, and the Arts (SLSAeu) fosters inter- and trans-disciplinary exchange between the arts, sciences, medicine and technology. The Society welcomes practitioners from the arts, including curatorial studies, sciences, the humanities and social sciences. SLSAeu has grown out of the US SLSA and has staged a biennial international conference since 2000 in major European cities. Contact information:

Dr. Manuela Rossini, SLSA Europe, c/o Department of English, University of Basel, Nadelberg 6, CH-4051 Basel, Switzerland OR email:

EUROPEAN SOCIETY FOR LITERATURE, SCIENCE, AND THE ARTS, from Cristina Iuli, the Chair of the local Organizing Committee for the 8th SLSA-EU Conference, “Life, in Theory.” This meeting will take place June 3-6, 2014, in Turin, Italy; see the website at for more information and the call for papers may be found there. Our plenary speakers are Claire Colebrook, Roberto Esposito, Giuseppe Testa, Paolo Vineis, and Cary Wolfe –leading scholars in political philosophy, critical theory, epidemiology, stem cell genetics, media theory, and literary and culture studies.

Three round tables and six parallel streams will provide ample occasions for exchange and discussion across science, literature, and the arts. Our round table invitees and stream convenors are Yves Abrioux, Monika Bakke, Ivan Callus, Timothy Campbell, Bruce Clarke, Sandra D’Alfonso, Umberto Dianzani, Marc Hansen, Jens Hauser, Stefan Herbrechter, Erich Hörl, Cristina Iuli, Najeeb Jan, Gregg Lambert, Maurizio Mori, Mario Pirisi, Manuela Rossini, Dorion Sagan, Davide Tarizzo, Stefania Sini, and Louise Whiteley.

Please visit our Web site at and submit a paper proposal. Your European colleagues look forward to seeing you this summer in Turin.


Registration is now open for the ninth annual conference of the British Society for Literature and Science, which will take place at the University of Surrey, Guildford, on 10-12 April 2014. Keynote talks will be given by Professor Jim Al-Khalili (University of Surrey), Professor Bernard Lightman (York University, Toronto), and Professor Mary Orr (University of Southampton). The conference will finish with an opportunity to visit Down House, the home of Charles Darwin, on the afternoon of Saturday 12 April.

Accommodation: please note that those attending the conference will need to make their own arrangements for accommodation. Information on local hotels is available on the conference website.

Membership: conference delegates will need to register as members of the BSLS (annual membership: £25 waged / £10 unwaged). It will be possible to join the BSLS when registering for the conference.

To register for the conference please visit the University of Surrey online store at The deadline for registration is 27 March 2014.

Information about how to get to the University of Surrey is available here:

For further information and updates about the conference, please contact Gregory Tate (<>) or visit the conference website at

RENEWING MEMBERSHIP IN SLSA: To join or to renew membership, please see, or call Johns Hopkins University Press Journals at 800 548 1784 (US & Canada only, all others call 410 516 6987). Mon-Fri 8-am-5pm FAX 410 516 6968. Email:

Beginning in 2013, the Society for Literature, Science, and the Arts establishes an additional category of membership for individuals. You can become a Lifetime Member for $1,500. The site for membership renewals/subscriptions is

To subscribe, send a plain-text email message to with the following in the body of the message:  subscribe LITSCI-L
The list archive and additional subscription information, including how to receive the digest format, are available at:


Society for Literature, Science, and the Arts Executive Board (2013-2014)

President: Laura Otis, Emory University

Executive Director: Carol Colatrella, Georgia Institute of Technology

First Vice-President: Robert Markley, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Second Vice-President: Ron Broglio, Arizona State University

Members-at-Large: Suzanne Black, State University of New York at Oneonta (2011-2013); Anne Pollock, Georgia Institute of Technology (2012-2014); James Housefield, University of California-Davis, Jenell Johnson, University of Wisconsin-Madison (2013-2015).

Graduate Student Liaisons: Nicole Keller Day, Northeastern University; Kari Nixon, Rice University.

Past Presidents: Richard Nash, Indiana University; Alan Rauch, University of North Carolina-Charlotte; Bruce Clarke, Texas Tech University; Eve Keller, Fordham University; Jay Labinger, California Institute of Technology; T. Hugh Crawford, Georgia Tech; Susan Squier, Penn State; Sidney Perkowitz, Emory University; Stuart Peterfreund, Northeastern University; James J. Bono, SUNY-Buffalo; N. Katherine Hayles, Duke University; Mark Greenberg, Drexel University; Lance Schachterle, Worcester Polytechnic Institute; Stephen J. Weininger, Worcester Polytechnic Institute

Configurations Editors: Melissa Littlefield, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Rajani Sudan, Southern Methodist University

Configurations Email address:

Configurations Book Review Editor: Allison DuShane, University of Arizona,

Publications Committee: Susan Squier, Penn State University; Ronald Schleifer, University of Oklahoma; Anne Pollock, Georgia Tech

Bibliographers: Sue Hagedorn, Virginia Polytechnic and State University (; Jennifer Rhee, Virginia Commonwealth University (

Electronic Resources Coordinator: Wayne Miller, Duke University (

Arts Liaison: Dennis Summers (


The Executive Director can be reached by phone at (404) 894-1241 or by e-mail at Postal address: Carol Colatrella, Executive Director, SLSA, School of Literature, Media, and Communication, Georgia Institute of Technology, 686 Cherry Street, Atlanta, GA  30332-0165

SLSA websites: and