Teaching Literature and Science: A Symposium


Literature and Science is currently gaining popularity amongst undergraduates, but opportunities for discussing how – and why – to teach it remain thin on the ground. This symposium is designed to help further that discussion by incorporating a broad range of sessions and remaining mindful of the range and variety within our subject area.

Taking a 360-degree perspective on teaching literature and science, our sessions invite contributions from students as well as academic convenors. We are also committed to inviting contributions from those teaching literature and science across all historical periods, working across international educational contexts as well as within the British HE system.

Involving between thirty and forty delegates – for whom attendance will be free – this will be a one-day event incorporating six sessions in a range of formats. In an attempt to maximise discussion and minimise preparation time, we have adopted a different format from the standard academic twenty-minute conference paper, and will ask speakers to present in a more informal tone and for different lengths of time depending on the session. We are particularly keen to draw out and share individuals’ teaching experiences, and it is for that reason that the day is built around ‘the wall’, an exchange of syllabus and teaching ideas which coincides with lunch. All delegates will be asked to complete a short questionnaire about their own expertise and interests at registration, and this information will be used to drive many of the sessions, particularly the afternoon workshop on course design.

We see this symposium as an important opportunity to reflect on the big questions which underlie our teaching, and the opening session, ‘Why should we teach Literature and Science?’, is designed to stimulate this discussion. But this is also an opportunity to tackle some of the pragmatics of introducing undergraduates to our discipline, and an afternoon session on ‘Negotiating University Structures’ will ensure that the bureaucratic side of this enterprise is not neglected. Generous Q&A time is built into each session, and structured discussions are deliberately varied between small and large groups.

Many of us teach literature and science on our own initiative, coping individually with both the joys and challenges raised by the endeavour. This is an important chance to consolidate those experiences and build strategies – and collegial networks – which will continue to drive the field forward at its grass roots: undergraduate teaching.

Symposium Organisers

Cian Duffy (St. Mary’s)
Allyson Purcell-Davis (St. Mary’s)
Janine Rogers (Mt. Allison)
Will Tattersdill (Birmingham)
Martin Willis (Westminster)

Symposium Supported By

The British Society for Literature and Science
The Centre for the Study of Science and Imagination