Decodings Fall 2021 (October Update)


Society for Literature, Science, and the Arts Newsletter                     

Fall 2021, Vol. 31, No.1  (updated October)

*ENERGY–SLSA 2021 Conference

*9/9/21 Executive Committee Quarterly Meeting Notes

*Committee Members and Appointments: Social Media
*Membership Renewal

*Policies: Respectful Behavior and Freedom of Speech

*AnthropoScene Book Series

*European Society for Literature, Science, and the Arts


Due to the ongoing uncertainties of the COVID-19 pandemic, the 2021 SLSA conference and member exhibition was held virtually September 30 – October 2, thanks to the generous sponsorship of the Stamps School of Art & Design at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, the excellent work of conference chair Irina Aristarkhova, and the support of the following institutional partners: Digital Studies InstituteComparative LiteratureEnglish Language and Literature, ESC: The Center for Ethics, Society, and Computing ( Highlights included:

Opening Keynote (Thursday September 30): Lisa Nakamura, Chair: Osman Khan

Plenary (Friday October 1): Zakiyyah Iman JacksonChanda Prescod-Weinstein, and Imani Cooper Mkandawire“Theorizing in a Void”: Towards a Theory and Practice of Black Feminist Mathematics and Science

Closing Keynote (Saturday October 2): Cristóbal Martinez with Liz Lerman, Chair: Jane Prophet

Partner Exhibition at the Stamps Gallery and Stamps Lecture: Stephanie Dinkins curated by Srimoyee Mitra at

Partner Exhibition with Sensorium: Center for Digital Art & Technology at York University, Re(new)All curated by Ian Garett, Melanie Wilmink, and Joel Ong

The next SLSA annual meeting will be held on the Purdue University campus in West Lafayette, Indiana, October 6-9, 2022.

Congratulations to the 2021 award winners

Akrish Adhikari’s essay “Writing as Biometric: The Case of Graphology and Keystroke Dynamics” was awarded the Edwin Bruns Prize, funded by Kate Hayles and judged by Ranjodh Singh Dhaliwal.

Akrish Adhikari’s article “Writing as Biometric: The Case of Graphology and Keystroke Dyanmics” furthers our understanding of the scientific and cultural history of handwriting, a term that, for Adhikari, accommodates all kinds of inscriptions that make use of the hand, including typing, keyboarding, and penmanship. Starting with the ever-growing interest in keystroke dynamics—the science and technology of measuring keyboard typing in hopes of mapping it specifically on to an individual’s identity—Adhikari takes us, media archaeologically, on a survey of nineteenth century France. Locating theories of, and controversies around, Alphonse Bertillon’s anthropometry and Abbé Jean Hippolyte Michon’s graphology as the techno-logical antecedents of contemporary keystroke dynamics research, this piece hints at the sociocultural and conceptual ramifications of these recurring desires to uniquely identify subjects through their supposedly ‘natural’ action-patterns. Adhikari’s discussion of the Dreyfus Affair, for example, poses many timely questions of the relationship between discrimination and ‘scientific’ determination of individuality. Similarly, the essay tantalizingly raises issues regarding the connections between the racialized failure of anthropometric identifications in colonial India and the functional orientations of policing systems through histories and geographies. Equally at home in technical weeds, theoretical and historical surveys, literary analyses—Arthur Conan Doyle and Émile Zola show up as evidence, for example—and cultural contexts of both nineteenth and twenty-first century, this well-written essay ably demonstrates the kind of sociocultural and technoscientific entanglements that are uniquely investigated at and by SLSA.

Amanda K. Greene’s essay  “The Passing Hour: 1930s Real-Time, Vile Bodies, and the Ethics of Reading” won the 2021 Schachterle Prize, funded in honor of Lance Schachterle’s parents and judged by Blake Leland and Jennifer Tuttle. The essay was published in Configurations, Volume 29, Number 2, Spring 2021.

In her essay, Amanda Greene explores the 20th-century interwar experience of media-induced “Real-Time” as a mere “melancholic imagination of the present” (Hu), using Waugh’s Vile Bodies as a casebook of causes and effects/affects. Greene argues that the rapidity and ephemerality of modern media – the telephone, photography, the printing press – made possible a public network of representation that seemed to capture Real Time, producing an experience of time, an experience of experience, that is out of time, beyond meaning, beyond caring. This “press-driven melancholic temporality,” she demonstrates, supported an ethics characterized by a manic stupor of narcissistic “amusement” vividly illustrated by Waugh’s satire in Vile Bodies. This essay illuminates the urgent politics of Real Time not only for the 1930s but for our own time as well.

Sally Shuttleworth was presented with the 2021 Lifetime Achievement Award, judged by Laura Otis, Elizabeth Donaldson, and Ben Platt.
(From Alan Rauch’s nomination letter): Not only was Sally one of the earliest members of a burgeoning community in the cultural studies of science, she has been one of the most innovative thinkers and methodologist in academia. Her current projects model contemporary scientific crowd-resourcing with its 19th century counterpart of interdisciplinary exchange, which drew on amateur practitioners across the UK and beyond.  “The Zooniverse Platform” was initiated in 2007 and it now numbers “over one million participants who contribute to projects from astrophysics to climate science. Significant discoveries have already been made by these volunteers in the field of astronomy” ( In addition to holding a European Advanced Investigator grant for a five-year project, ‘Diseases of Modern Life: Nineteenth-Century Perspectives’  she is also Principal Investigator for a large AHRC four year grant in the field of Science and Culture, on ‘Constructing Scientific Communities: Citizen Science in the 19th and 21st Centuries.’

Her work, along with that of Gowan Dawson, recognizes a bridge between the ostensible scientific disciplines and those in the humanities, by recognizing that intellectual curiosity transcends (as it always has) institutional taxonomies.  Her projects have encouraged the participation of other notable scholars in a variety of disciplines including Astrophysics Professor Christ Lintott (Oxford), and also faculty and staff at partner institutions ranging from the Natural History Museum, the Royal Society, and the Hunterian Museum at the Royal College of Surgeons. The once cherished standard for “science” as a community that produces “new knowledge,” has been stood on its end by recognizing the many ways that knowledge is shaped and the diverse communities of people who help shape it. This has been an issue that has troubled many scholars in the cultural studies of science, most notably George Levine who has been addressing the idea of “bridges” since his collection One Culture in 1984.

Shuttleworth’s approach, throughout her career, has always been rooted in the inter-relations of literature, science and culture.  The publication of George Eliot and Nineteenth-Century Science in 1984 marked an important moment in the growth of science studies, as Shuttleworth expanded the then narrow group of scholars taking cultural studies of science both seriously and profoundly.  Her status as an important critic of nineteenth century culture was solidified with subsequent publications.  They include Charlotte Brontë and Victorian Psychology (1996); Embodied Selves: An Anthology of Psychological Texts, 1830-1890 (1998), ed. with Jenny Bourne Taylor as well as co-edited collections include: Nature Transfigured: Science and Literature 1700-1900 (1989); Body/Politics: Women and the Discourses of Science (1990); Memory and Memorials,1789-1914: Literary and Cultural Perspectives (2000); Culture and Science in the Nineteenth-Century Media (Ashgate, 2004), Reading the Magazine of Nature: Science and the Nineteenth-Century Periodical (Cambridge University Press, 2004) Science Serialised (MIT Press, 2004).

Shuttleworth’s influence throughout academia cannot be underestimated.  Beginning her career with a Frank Knox Fellowship at Harvard University followed by a post as Assistant Professor in the English Department at Princeton University, she established a strong and lasting network with the American Scholarly community.  She subsequently returned to England, teaching at the University of Leeds (only interrupted by Fellowship at the Society for Humanities, Cornell University) before taking up a Chair at the University of Sheffield in 1994. Shuttleworth has not shied away from administrative work, which accentuated her influence in the British academic world. At Sheffield she served as Head of the School of English, as well as Dean of Arts, and was also Director and founder of the Centre for Nineteenth-Century Studies.  In 2006 Shuttleworth moved to Oxford to take up the post of the Head of the Humanities Division, with responsibility for the 11 faculties and units that make up the Division of Humanities within the University.

SLSA Executive Board                        9/9/21 Quarterly Meeting Notes

Attending: David Cecchetto, Carol Colatrella, Elizabeth Donaldson, Josh DiCaglio, Anne Hudson Jones, Ranjodh Singh Dhaliwal, Alan Rauch, Jay Labinger, Richard Nash, Laura Otis, Wayne Miller, Irina Aristarkhova, Paula Leverage

Financial report: Carol noted that memberships in the society were low and asked all members to help recruit new members. The society does not receive a journal dividend from Johns Hopkins Press in years with few members. That dividend supports the journal, society operations, and the annual conference.

President’s report: David reported that he and Arielle Saiber have already received many expressions of interest and proposals for the Proximities series they co-edit and that will to be published by the University of Minnesota Press. Contact them for further information.

2021 Conference report: Irina explained arrangements for SLSA2021, to be held September 30-October 2, 2021, as a largely virtual conference sponsored by the University of Michigan and supported by a team of volunteers. Classes now take place in person, but the university does not yet allow visitors or special events. Irina is in the process of responding to participant requests about the program and adding details about presentations to the online EasyChair program, which follows the structure of the SLSA2019 conference online program. The 2021 program includes approximately 400 expected presentations. Irina is organizing a team of assistants who will provide online technical support for speakers. She hopes to include a Zoom link for each session in the online program. She will soon send more information to speakers to prepare them for the event. The University of Michigan will provide most of the funding for the event, including paying keynote speakers and the subcontractor supporting streaming of sessions. Keynote presentations will be recorded and archived on the SLSA YouTube site. David and Carol will help Irina develop a plan for the virtual awards ceremony on Saturday, October 2.

2022 Conference report: Paula described the conference arrangements, planned as an in-person conference to be held on the Purdue University campus in West Lafayette, Indiana, October 6-9, 2022. She reported that hotel and conference meeting contracts are almost ready to be signed by university and society representatives. The university conference organizer suggested that the society consider shifting the conference to host some virtual sessions if health conditions warrant.* Virtual sessions might include the keynotes and a very limited number of other sessions. Purdue has currently mandated masks in indoor campus facilities and encouraged vaccination and frequent testing for Covid19. Approximately 80% of campus community members are vaccinated, and the campus has returned to normal operations, allowing in-person classes and visits from guest speakers. Paula asked for assistance in finding out how many SLSA members plan to travel to the 2022 conference; Irina will ask 2021 attendees about their 2022 plans in the University Michigan conference evaluation. Paula is developing a budget and asked for input on fees to be charged to speakers. David recommended setting fees that would allow graduate students and underfunded individuals to participate while allowing better resourced members to help subsidize general attendance.

General discussion: David recommended that SLSA conferences should be better documented. Richard suggested that members consider purchasing gift memberships for students, colleagues, and others. SLSA members are strongly encouraged to invite students and colleagues to register as attendees for the 2021 conference and to consider joining the society.The next executive meeting will be held in early December.

*Paula Leverage recommends this link with information about the measures in place at Purdue to keep everyone safe:


Wayne Miller, Electronic Resources Coordinator, asks for new images for the SLSA website homepage ( Ranjodh Singh Dhaliwal has joined Ed Chang in developing SLSA social media, Twitter and Facebook respectively. SLSA members interested in contributing to social media on behalf of the society are encouraged to email Ed ( ) and Ranjodh (

MEMBERSHIP RENEWAL: Please remember to renew your membership; 2021 rates are noted here: Benefits of membership include the newsletter Decodings, the LITSCI listserv, and the journal Configurations, which explores the relations of literature and the arts to the sciences and technology. Founded in 1993, the journal continues to set the stage for transdisciplinary research concerning the interplay between science, technology, and the arts.

Members can access the Configurations online archive of articles, useful resources for teaching and scholarship at the above link.

Graduate students, independent scholars, and artists who registered for SLSA 2021 and attended the conference are eligible to receive reimbursement for 2021 membership dues. Between October 15 and December 31, one should complete the online form link for at

and upload confirmation of dues payment to Hopkins Journals Division. Carol Colatrella ( will send reimbursements in the form of checks from a US bank.

Policies Adopted: Respectful Behavior and Freedom of Speech & Call for Ombudspersons

SLSA officers and the executive committee have developed two new policies and have shared them with members through the listserv. After incorporating revisions suggested by several members, the policies have been approved the executive committee and adopted by the society. The updated policies are posted here:

In accordance with the policies, SLSA is recruiting individuals to serve as ombudspersons who would receive and mediate any issues raised by members/conference attendees. Any member interested in volunteering to serve as ombudsperson, should apply by emailing Carol Colatrella (; include a short statement of why you are interested in serving in this role and what experience you can bring the position.

Current officers will review applications to make appointments.

Role of SLSA Ombudsperson                                                            

Each Ombudsperson is an impartial entity who strives to see that SLSA members and SLSA conference attendees are treated fairly and equitably. Any member/attendee can seek the advice of an Ombudsperson. The Ombudsperson is impartial, neutral, and confidential. The rights and interests of all parties to disputes are considered, with the goal of achieving fair outcomes. The primary responsibilities of the Ombudsperson are:

  1. To work with individuals to explore and assist them in determining options to help resolve conflicts and problematic issues or concerns.
  2. To bring concerns about the organization to the attention of leadership for resolution.

Ombudspersons: Marcel O’Gorman ( and Kari Nixon (

ANTHROPOSCENE: SLSA BOOK SERIES FROM PENNSYLVANIA STATE UNIVERSITY PRESS AnthropoScene is a book series from Penn State University Press, published in collaboration with the Society for Literature, Science, and the Arts. While not all scientists have accepted the term “anthropocene” as part of the geological timescale, the idea that humans are changing the planet and its environments in radical and irreversible ways has provoked new kinds of cross-disciplinary thinking about relationships among the arts, human technologies, and nature. This is the broad, cross-disciplinary basis for books published in the series.

Books in this series include specialized studies for scholars in a variety of disciplines as well as widely accessible works of interest to broad audiences. They examine, in a variety of ways, relationships and points of intersection among natural, biological, and applied sciences and literary, visual, and performing arts. The AnthropoScene series represents the depth and breadth of work being done by scholars in literature, science, and the arts, putting innovative juxtapositions within reach of specialists and non-specialists alike.

After five years, Lucinda and Bob have decided to step down. Penn State Press will continue to work with the authors who already have submitted manuscripts to the series; there are a number of manuscripts under consideration and others under contract. Send questions to: Kendra Boileau, Assistant Director and Editor‐in‐Chief, at Or contact the SLSA liaison for the series, Pamela Gossin at or

Titles in AnthropoScene: The SLSA Book Series
Electromagnetism and the Metonymic Imagination by Kieran Murphy
Love in a Time of Slaughters: Human-Animal Stories Against Genocide and Extinction by Susan McHugh
Anthropocene Reading: Literary History in Geologic Times
. Edited by Tobias Menely and Jesse Oak Taylor
Editing the Soul: Science and Fiction in the Genome Age by Everett Hamner
The Art of Identification. Eds. Rex Ferguson, Melissa M. Littlefield, and James Purdon
Fear and Nature: Ecohorror Stories from the Anthropcene. Eds. Christy Tidwell and Carter Soles
Fragments from the History of Loss by Louise Green
Oil Fictions. Eds. Stacey Balkan and Swaralipi Nandi.
Under the Literary Microscope. Eds. Sina Farzin, Susan M. Gaines, and Roslynn D. Haynes.

SLSA Member’s Discount from Penn State University Press: Use promo code NR21 for 30% off AnthropoScene titles purchased directly from PSU Press, plus free domestic shipping and discounts on foreign shipping!

EUROPEAN Society for Literature, Science, and the Arts  is the sister organization of the international, USA-based Society for Literature, Science, and the Arts. SLSAeu welcomes colleagues in the humanities, the social sciences, the arts, and all fields of science, medicine, engineering, and computer sciences as well as independent scholars, artists and scientists.

Society for Literature, Science, and the Arts Executive Board (2021)
President: David Cecchetto, York University, Toronto (

Executive Director: Carol Colatrella, Georgia Institute of Technology (
First Vice-President: Maria Whiteman, Indiana University (

Second Vice-President: Rajani Sudan, Southern Methodist University (
Members-at-Large: Elizabeth Donaldson (2020-22); Adam Nocek (2019-21); Joshua DiCaglio (2021-23);
Anne Hudson Jones (2021-23)
Graduate Student Liaisons: Ben Platt (;Tyler Gabbard:;
McKenzie Stupiča: (

Configurations Editors: Melissa Littlefield, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and Rajani Sudan,                     Southern Methodist University Configurations Email address:
Configurations Book Review Editor: Jeffrey Karnicky, Department of English, 2505 University Avenue,
Drake University, Des Moines, IA 50311. Email:
Publications Committee: Pamela Gossin; Raymond Malewitz; Bruce Clarke

Electronic Resources Coordinator: Wayne Miller (

Arts Liaisons: Dennis Summers (; Kiki Benzon (;
Maria Whiteman (
Social Media Liaisons: Ed Chang (; Adriana Knouf (; Ranjodh
Singh Dhaliwal (

Ombudspersons: Marcel O’Gorman ( and Kari Nixon (
Past Presidents: Marcel O’Gorman, University of Waterloo; Ron Broglio, Arizona State University; Robert Markley, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign; Laura Otis, Emory University; 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
The Executive Director can be reached at (404) 894-1241 or
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