Milestone for literature and science research

30 April 2018

Stack of books

Collaboration between humanities and the sciences is key to solving the biggest problems we face today, according to a Cardiff University academic.

Professor Martin Willis, of the School of English, Communication and Philosophy, is editor and founder of The Journal of Literature and Science (JLS), which marks its tenth anniversary this year.

It is dedicated to bringing together the latest thinking on the subject of literature and science from all periods of literary and artistic history since the Scientific Revolution; from the Renaissance to the present day. Since first publication in 2008, its annual output has grown to twice yearly publication, mirroring the growing interest in this field of research.

The Journal encourages a broad definition of ‘science’, encapsulating both the history and philosophy of science and those sciences regarded as mainstream or marginal. Essays on the major forms of literary and artistic endeavour range in topic from the novel, short fiction, poetry and drama, to visual art, sculpture, radio, film and television.

This area of research is also nurtured within the University. The Cardiff ScienceHumanities initiative works to bring together academics from across different disciplines. Led by Professor Willis and Dr James Castell in the School of English, Communication and Philosophy and by Professor Keir Waddington in the School of History, Archaeology and Religion, it promotes the exchange of ideas between scholars from across Social Sciences, Biosciences, Medicine and Psychology.

Professor Willis said: “The importance of understanding the human relation to the sciences cannot be underestimated: especially in a world facing such enormous challenges.

“Through the ScienceHumanities initiative, Cardiff University is certainly leading the way in this field, bringing together academics with diverse skills and perspectives. We need to be able to understand each other’s languages and find ways to bridge the gaps to further our knowledge - that’s what literature and science scholarship is all about.”

He added: “This cutting-edge research is being reflected through our teaching. Learning about the cultural role science plays gives students new tools to engage in civic debate and challenge received ideas. Students coming to Cardiff are excited to be receiving the very latest thinking in what is a hugely innovative and quickly expanding area.”

To mark the tenth anniversary of the JLS, eminent international scholar Professor N. Katherine Hayles will give a special lecture. Translating and Evolving: Posthuman Intersections of Human and Machine Languages is open to all on Tuesday 1 May.

Professor Willis added:  “The tenth anniversary is a milestone well worth celebrating for a journal like the JLS. We are entirely open access, and make no author charges. This means being entrepreneurial in order to fund the journal’s activities, and we owe the Cardiff School of English, Communication and Philosophy a debt of gratitude for supporting us.”

The Journal of Literature and Science tenth anniversary public lecture takes place on Tuesday 1st May at 6pm in the University’s Postgraduate Teaching Centre Lecture Theatre. Advance booking is essential.