“Doing Science: Texts, Patterns, Practices”
20-21 November 2015, University of Cologne. Conference Report by Dr. Nina Engelhardt
The conference “Doing Science: Texts, Patterns, Practices” took place 20-21 November 2015 as a cooperation between Julia Hoydis from the Department of English and Nina Engelhardt from the Research Lab of the a.r.t.e.s. Graduate School of the Humanities Cologne. Over the two days, we focused on intersections and interrelations of science and literature broadly conceived. The interdisciplinary orientation tied in with the work of the 2015 Albertus Magnus-Professor Bruno Latour, who gave two public lectures and one seminar, as well as a graduate seminar for researchers at a.r.t.e.s., earlier in 2015. Latour’s work provided a touch point to explore the conference keywords “doing science” and “texts”, “patterns”, and “practices”. We particularly followed up on impulses of Latour’s thinking that move scientific practice and its interrelations with texts into critical focus and, drawing on Gillian Beer’s seminal work in the field of literature and science studies, we called for taking account of the “two-way traffic” between the disciplines.
Scholars from Germany, Denmark, Poland, Spain, Portugal, and Great Britain followed this call and presented research ranging from medical studies and history of science to theatre studies, art history, and literary and science studies. The diverse disciplinary perspectives in the group greatly contributed to the engaging discussions and invigorating debates and also to lively informal exchange over coffee and dinner. The rallying points given by the focus on “doing science” and the terms “texts”, “patterns”, “practices” made sure that disciplinary variety did not lead to a dispersal of the discussion but illuminated a common complex of questions from various perspectives.