CONFERENCE: The Shared Cultural Milieu of Charles Darwin and Samuel Butler: Science and Literature in the Nineteenth Century


Registration is still possible for the Conference on:

‘The Shared Cultural Milieu of Charles Darwin and Samuel Butler: Science and Literature in the Nineteenth Century’

Monday 1st – Tuesday 2nd July, in the Divinity School, St John’s College Cambridge.

This conference will extend the discussion of Darwin’s reception in Europe, published in two volumes as *The Reception of Charles Darwin in Europe* (2008) in the well-established Series on the Reception of British and Irish Authors in Europe (Bloomsbury) as well as in the third volume, ‘The Literary and Cultural Reception of Charles Darwin in Europe’ (forthcoming 2014).

It will consider not only Darwin’s impact on culture, especially literary culture, but also the milieu in which writers like Darwin and Butler could emerge from very similar educational and cultural backgrounds and contribute to both literature and science. Through our work on the European reception, a new focus on the channels and modes of understanding of Darwin’s work emerges, in which Butler’s contributions to the subject not only in his controversies with Darwin but through his translations and his five books on evolution enrich our understanding of the Continental reception and of new sciences emerging from the Darwinian controversies.

St John’s College houses the Butler Collection, the largest collection of his works, letters, notebooks, paintings, and photographs in one place, and recently received a Heritage Lottery Grant to make Butler’s work better known to a wider public. In the past two years the Collection has been fully catalogued and a number of exhibitions, events and lectures, open to the public as well as to the University, have been held. A small Butler exhibition will be mounted in the Divinity School for the conference.

A number of younger scholars have come forward who are doing new research on Butler, especially in the context of his scientific ideas. A feature of the conference will be a seminar presenting this new work, at which James Paradis (MIT), editor of *Samuel Butler: Victorian Against the Grain* (Toronto 2007), will be present. Another feature will be the contributions of writers who themselves have explored the links between science and literature in their own work, and the talented young poet Emily Ballou will give a reading on the first evening.

Registration (incl. lunch) costs £60 per person per day; £40 for full-time students.

Rooms can be also booked for those wishing to stay overnight in the College.

You can download the programme at
and register by writing to us at

Dr Elinor Shaffer FBA and Professor Thomas F. Glick, co-editors, ‘The Literary and Cultural Reception of Charles Darwin in Europe’
Dr Mark Nicholls, Fellow and Librarian, St John’s College
Conference co-organizers

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