Thinking (about) Automata in Descartes, Shaftesbury, and Diderot – 20 May 2019

Lecture by Dr. James Fowler

Thinking (about) Automata in Descartes, Shaftesbury, and Diderot

6 -7.30pm, Monday 20 May 2019

Keynes Library, School of Arts, 43 Gordon Square. WC1H 0PD

The Birkbeck Eighteenth-Century Research Group is delighted to announce a forthcoming lecture by James Fowler, Senior Lecturer in French at the University of Kent.

In the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, discussions of the soul in the secular sphere involved thinking about automata, and whether they might think. Breaking with Aristotle, Descartes uses the cultural phenomenon of automates (such as those he viewed at Saint-Germain-en-Laye) to suggest that, quite simply, all non-human animals are ‘bêtes-machines’. Shaftesbury is strongly opposed to this: refuting Descartes and Malebranche, he argues that all animals – including humans – should only be viewed as ‘clockwork’ when they are seized by fits. By contrast, Diderot (an admirer of Vaucanson) argues, in support of materialism, that humans can usefully be imagined as animal-machines – or indeed as living statues. This tendency in Diderot can be traced in his early (1747) translation of Shaftesbury, in which the automaton, as ‘automate’, is introduced where it least belongs: in the English Earl’s thought experiment concerning a ‘solitary creature’.

 

All are very welcome! Please note: this event is part of Birkbeck Arts Week 2019.

To reserve your free place, and to see the full programme of events, please go to:

http://www.bbk.ac.uk/annual-events/arts-week/arts-week-2019

 

For further information, please contact Dr Ann Lewis: a.lewis@bbk.ac.uk

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Call for Papers: Thinking through Fiction, deadline 4 March 2016

Thinking through Fiction

A conference at the University of Kent
Centre for Creative Writing
21st-22nd June 2016
Grimond Building

This 2-day conference will explore the complex relationship between fiction, writing, and thought.

How do we use fiction to explore ideas? What do we create when we create writing? In what ways can fiction offer a means of examining, questioning, understanding the world? What are the relations between text, representation, form, language and thought? Where is the boundary between creative and critical writing—and how might we test the unstable, shifting, flexible nature of that boundary? How might we consider other art forms in these terms?

Creative Writing is now widely taught at universities across the UK and beyond, and the parameters of what constitutes a valid route of academic inquiry—the furtherance of knowledge—are adjusting accordingly.

Call for Papers
For interested participants:
We welcome perspectives from creative writers both within and beyond the academy, and from other fields such as linguistics, philosophy, arts, film, and social sciences. Contributions are welcome from all: academic staff, postgraduate students, and other practitioners.

Panels might include (an indicative, not an exhaustive list):

  • The ‘novel of ideas’ past and present
  • (How) can we render thought in prose and other creative mediums?
  • Streams of consciousness
  • Philosophy and the novel
  • Writers writing about writing
  • Creative-critical boundaries
  • Experimental fiction(s)
  • Genre fiction and allegory
  • Politics and polemics

Please send a short abstract of 200-300 words for a 20-minute paper or presentation to a.sackville@kent.ac.uk by 4th March 2016.

We are open to creative approaches to presenting, from the formal academic paper to the performative reading.

This event is mounted by the Centre for Creative Writing at the School of English, University of Kent.
The convenor is Amy Sackville (a.sackville@kent.ac.uk)

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Call for Papers: ‘Bridging the Divide: Literature and Science’, deadline 1 April 2016

Bridging the Divide: Literature and Science
3rd June 2016 hosted at the University of Kent
Organised by the Universities of Kent and Sussex
Keynote speaker: Dr Pamela Thurschwell – Sussex

Website: https://literatureandscience2016.wordpress.com


‘Science and literature are not two things, but two sides of one thing’ – Thomas Huxley

The relationship between literature and science has been a perennial subject of debate. Is there a divide between these two fields, or are they in fact two sides of one thing? The Universities of Kent and Sussex present a one-day conference on the 3rd June 2016, aimed at interrogating discourses around this subject.

Over the centuries, scientific inquiries have influenced writers, artists and theorists. Literary representations of science can record developments and changes, speculate as to future discoveries or challenge contemporary theories. Bridging the Divide welcomes submissions which span the range of literary studies from the classical to the medieval, from the early modern to the digital age, encompassing creative writing and interdisciplinary approaches.

Topics might include, but are not limited to:

Medical humanities and ethics / The environment and ecocriticism / Science fiction, speculative fiction and myth / Digital and computational humanities / Psychoanalysis, sexology and identity / Post-, trans- and antihumanism / Technologies of gender, cyber- and technofeminism / Evolutionary theory, social Darwinism, eugenics / Climate change, urbanisation and the anthropocene / Animal studies / Technologies of writing and material culture

This call is open to MA and PhD students from all institutions, including those who have completed PhDs in the last two years. We welcome abstracts for 20-minute papers, short creative pieces, and readings from postgraduate students by 1 April 2016 to be sent to kentconference2016@gmail.com. Abstracts should be no longer than 300 words. The conference will conclude with a wine reception.

Please include details of your current level of study and home institution. For creative readings, please send a short example of your work.

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Call for Papers: Othello’s Island 2017, deadline 1 January 2017

Othello’s Island 2017

The 5th annual multidisciplinary conference
on medieval and renaissance studies
and their later legacies

Venue: Centre for Visual Arts and Research (CVAR)
Nicosia, Cyprus, 6 to 8 April 2017
with optional historic-site visits on 9 April

Advance Notice CALL FOR PAPERS

a collaborative event organised by academics from
Sheffield Hallam University, SOAS University of London
University of Kent, University of Sheffield and the University of Leeds

www.tiny.cc/othello2017

Convenors

  • Emeritus Professor James Fitzmaurice, Northern Arizona University (USA)
  • Professor Lisa Hopkins, Sheffield Hallam University (UK)
  • Dr Sarah James, University of Kent at Canterbury (UK)
  • Dr Michael Paraskos, SOAS University of London (UK)
  • Benedict Read FSA, University of Leeds (UK)
  • Dr Rita Severis, CVAR (Cyprus)

We welcome applications from researchers to present papers at the 2017 edition of Othello’s Island.

First held in 2013, Othello’s Island now a well established annual meeting of academics, students and members of the public interested in medieval and renaissance art, literature, history and culture.

Othello’s Island is growing in size and stature every year. In 2016 over seventy academics from across the world presented papers at the conference, whilst also experiencing the medieval and renaissance art, architecture and historical sites of Cyprus.

This experience ranged from the island’s material culture, such as the French gothic cathedral of Nicosia, through to the remarkable living culture of the island that is still deeply affected by its medieval and renaissance past.

In 2017 we are interested in hearing papers on diverse aspects of medieval and renaissance literature, art, history, society and other culture.

Papers do not have to be specifically related to Cyprus or the Mediterranean region and do not have to be connected to Shakespeare.

It is worth looking at the range of papers from past conferences to see that previous speakers have covered topics ranging from slavery in medieval Cyprus and Malta, to the impact of Italian Renaissance art on Cypriot Byzantine painting, to the Anglo-Saxon epic Beowulf and Margaret Cavendish.

That said, given our location, Cyprus, the Levant and the Mediterranean do impact on the conference, not least because for anyone interested in medieval and renaissance history Cyprus is real gem, full of architectural and other material culture relating to the period. This includes museums filled with historic artefacts, gothic and Byzantine cathedrals and churches and a living culture that has direct links to this period.

Othello’s Island has developed a reputation as one of the friendliest medieval and renaissance studies conferences in the world today, and it is also genuinely interdisciplinary. In part this is due to the relatively small size of the event, which generates a true sense of community during the conference.

For more informaton and submission deadlines please visit

www.tiny.cc/othello2017

All information here is subject to confirmation and possible modification

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