Research seminars

Listed below are forthcoming Sociology and Philosophy seminars. Any College of Social Sciences and International Studies staff or postgraduates may always attend. Anyone else should contact the department or the centre in question.

See also the seminars for all of SSIS.

WhenDescriptionLocationAdd to your calendar
29 January 2018

"Culture, ‘mental’ illness, and embodiment: Survey evidence of helpful and harmful effects of fiction-reading for eating disorders" Dr Emilly Troscianko (University of Oxford)

Egenis seminar series. The healing power of literature is far more often assumed than tested—either that, or ignored as irrelevant to the serious medical business of curing illness. Neither attitude is helpful. Cultural factors can clearly be relevant to mental health, and the treatment-resistance of many mental illnesses, combined with the high financial cost of many existing therapies, makes the idea of using books to heal people an attractive one. But although fiction and poetry seem to be used fairly often in therapeutic practice, so far there is very little systematic understanding of what actually works and what doesn’t for different conditions and individuals. I take eating disorders as a case study, and report on evidence from a large-scale survey conducted with the charity Beat. We found that reading some kinds of fiction is perceived to have therapeutic effects, but that other kinds can be highly detrimental to mental and physical health—in particular those texts which thematise eating disorders, which seem often to be sought out by sufferers specifically with the aim of exacerbating their illness.. Full details
Byrne HouseAdd this to your calendar
5 February 2018

Liz Irvine (Cardiff University) “Interaction, Minds and Meaning in Pragmatics”

SPA Seminar series. Full details
Amory C417Add this to your calendar
12 February 2018

"History of continuous culture techniques and their promise of directed evolution" Gabriele Gramelsberger (RWTH Aachen)

Egenis seminar series. Continuous culture techniques were developed in the early twentieth century to replace cumbersome studies of cell growth in batch cultures. Devices — called "automatic syringe mechanism," "turbidostat," "chemostat," "bactogen," and "microbial auxanometer" — have been designed by Jacques Monod, Aron Novick and Leo Szilard and other scientists. With these devices cell growth came under the external control of the experimenters and thus accessible for metabolically and genetically studying organisms but also for developing a mathematical theory of growth kinetics. The paper explores the historical development of continuous culture devices. It further discusses contemporary designs of continuous culture techniques realizing a specific event-based flow algorithm able to simulate directed evolution and produce artificial cells and microorganisms. This current development is seen as an alternative approach to today's synthetic biology. Full details
Byrne HouseAdd this to your calendar
19 February 2018

"Trees as keys, ladders, maps: A revisionist history of early systematic trees" Petter Hellström (Uppsala University, Sweden)

Egenis seminar series. In recent years, there has been a profusion of studies charting the history of tree diagrams in natural history and biological systematics. Whereas some of these have focused on one or a few arboreal schemes, the majority have presented long histories, spanning centuries and occasionally even millennia. Early or ‘pre-Darwinian’ trees typically feature in these histories as precursors to phylogenetics; sometimes even as the ‘roots’ of later trees. Together with colleagues in France, I have previously argued that one of the most frequently cited early tree diagrams, Augustin Augier’s ‘Botanical Tree’ (1801), cannot in any reasonable way be made to play the role of forerunner to later, evolutionary trees—even as the author pitched his tree of natural families in explicitly genealogical terms. In this talk, I push the argument further by proposing an alternative reading of the historical record. Starting from Augier’s tree and other early examples, I argue that ‘pre-evolutionary’ trees should be understood less in terms of what came after, and more in terms of what came before. Attending to the functions they performed as keys, ladders, and maps, I argue that early trees were logical, rhetorical, and mnemonic devices drawn to imagine perfect, static order. Full details
Byrne HouseAdd this to your calendar
26 February 2018

"Sex, Death and Trigger Warnings: A Cultural History of Self-injury" Dr Sarah Chaney (Queen Mary University of London)

Egenis seminar series. Non-suicidal self-injury is often thought of as a modern epidemic, entering the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of the American Psychiatric Association (DSM-5) in 2013 as a seemingly universal category. Yet the much longer history of medical approaches to self-harm reveals a surprising variation in the ways a range of behaviours have been classified and understood. This history also tells us surprisingly little about people who harm themselves, and much more about prevailing assumptions around sex, gender, youth, deviance and social interaction in particular eras. In this talk, I will set some of these explanations for self-harm in historical context, from the late Victorian fears surrounding male castration to more modern preoccupations with peer contagion and youth culture. By critically evaluating the past, I argue, we can better recognise and manage the assumptions and attitudes of our own time. Full details
Byrne HouseAdd this to your calendar
5 March 2018

Lorna Finlayson (University of Essex) “Madness, present and pervasive: Laingian social pathology and the spectre of organicism”

SPA Seminar series. Full details
Amory C417Add this to your calendar
19 March 2018

Elise Tancoigne (University of Geneva)

Egenis seminar series. Title and abstract to follow. Full details
Byrne HouseAdd this to your calendar
26 March 2018

"Turning Science into Legal Data: Where is the Invention in Patent Law?" Hyo Yoon Kang (University of Kent)

Egenis seminar series. This talk will explore the implications of patent law's digitisation on the understanding of scientific and technological inventions. Patent law is becoming increasingly datafied, both in terms of its internal workings as well as its social information, through interlinked databases. The result is that a patented invention, a scientific and/or technological artefact, is rendered into legal data. I probe the place of scientific knowledge in such a setting and show that the datafication of science and law results in different kind of calculability, namely a financial one. Full details
Byrne HouseAdd this to your calendar