Latest Event Updates

Registration Open

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Registration is open for this workshop. Please register as soon as you can if would like to attend the workshop. The link to register is available here, and through a link in the ‘registration’ part of this website.

Update – programme published, registration open shortly

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The full-line up of the programme for the workshop is now confirmed. The programme can be viewed on the programme page accessible through the link above.

Registration will open for this exciting event soon, there will be a link to a website where you can register, and pay the registration fee of £30 by debit or credit card.

Accommodation is available in the modern and affordable Holland Hall, close to the event venue, and details of how to book this can be found by following the link in the ‘practical information’ page.

There will be some small bursaries available to help students travelling to the event, details of how to apply for these will be made available soon.

Please note that the event now runs from 26th to 27th June, and keep visiting this site for further updates.


Main Speaker Line-Up Confirmed

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The line-up of main speakers for the workshop is now confirmed:

Helen Curry (University of Cambridge)

Jon Hodge (University of Leeds)

Joeri Witteveen (Universiteit Utrecht)

The call for papers is open until 14th February for submitted papers.

Student Travel Bursaries

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We want to ensure that there are as few barriers as possible to students wanting to contribute to this conference. We are aiming to use as much of our funds as we can budget to cover student travel costs but we are not yet certain as to how much we will have available. We will be aiming to cover all student speakers travelling to Exeter, with a sliding scale of coverage based on the level of reasonable costs incurred (the exact nature of which will be detailed when we can confirm our budget).

Please do not hesitate to contact us with any enquiry, including regarding travel arrangements and bursaries.

Announcement and call for papers

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The ‘Artificial’ and the ‘Natural’ in the Life Sciences, c. 1850-1950 – Call for Papers

University of Exeter, Wednesday 25th – Friday 27th June 2014

A workshop organised around the theme of ‘the “artificial” and the “natural” in the life sciences, c. 1850-1950’ will take place in Byrne House, University of Exeter, UK, from 25th-27th June 2014. While the final programme will be finalised only in Spring next year, the event is anticipated to run from midday on Wednesday 25th to lunchtime on Friday 27th.

The purpose of this workshop will be to bring together historians, philosophers and sociologists with an interest in the history of the life sciences, particularly postgraduates, in order to discuss the manner in which particular views of art (and artifice or the artificial) and nature (or the natural) influenced the natural sciences in the pivotal century between 1850 and 1950.

Topic that are particularly relevant for this workshop include:

– the relationship of artificial selection and natural selection in evolutionary theory;

– eugenics and other ‘scientific’ utopian projects for human society;

– the impact of synthetic chemistry on conceptions of living nature;

– the rejection of ‘naturalism’ and rise of experimental laboratory biology, especially physiology, biochemistry, experimental embryology and genetics;

– and the influence of new ideas of the relationship of art and nature on cultural practices such as agriculture and land management.

However, we are very much open to papers which look at the impact of concepts of art and nature in this period on areas and aspects of the life sciences not covered by this list. Furthermore, the workshop is also motivated by the potential we see in investigating the impact of past concepts of the artificial and the natural in considering where our current related notions, embedded in new sciences such as synthetic biology, might be taking us.

The conference programme includes three plenary talks by invited speakers including Helen Curry (University of Cambridge) and Jon Hodge (University of Leeds) and multiple slots for contributed papers.

The call for contributions is now open. We particularly invite postgraduate students with an interest in the history and/or philosophy of the life sciences to submit papers. Abstracts should be no more than 300 words in length and should be sent as word documents, PDFs or in the body of an e-mail to Tarquin Holmes at by Friday 14th February 2014.

Authors will be informed whether their abstracts have been accepted around the first week of March.