This interdisciplinary conference, convened by Birkbeck’s Centre for Nineteenth-Century Studies, University of London, in partnership with the Department of English, University of Melbourne, and software developers Constraint Technologies International (CTI), will take place on 6-7 July 2007 at Birkbeck College, Malet Street, Bloomsbury.

Registration for this conference is now open. All registration forms and payments need to be received by 22nd June 2007. Please see the conference website to download the draft programme and registration and payment form:

This two-day conference will explore the relationship between minds, bodies and machines in the long nineteenth century. Recent research on the Enlightenment’s frontier technologies has established that era’s preoccupation with developing machinery that could simulate the cognitive and physiological processes of human beings. According to some critics, however, these Promethean ambitions were shelved during the nineteenth century, when the android as artefact was relocated to the realm of the imagination, where it became a threatening figure. According to this reading, the android as scientific project and a figure of possibility only re-emerges in our own era. The aim of this conference is to test this claim by exploring the continuities and discontinuities in the imagining of the human/machine interface in the nineteenth and twenty-first centuries.

Keynote Speakers

Dr Caroline Arscott (Courtauld Institute of Art), ‘ Mutability and Deformity: Models of the Body and the Art of Burne-Jones’

Professor Jay Clayton (Vanderbilty University), ‘Victorian Epigenesis: Inherited Behaviour without Genetics’

Professor Steven Connor (Birkbeck), ‘Air-Looms and Influencing Machines’

Professor Iain McCalman (Australian National University), ‘A Radical’s Conversion: Spirit, Mind and Natural Selection in the thought of Alfred Wallace.’

Professor Peter Otto (University of Melbourne), ‘Minds, Bodies and Virtual Reality in Jeremy Bentham’s Panopticon Machine’

Professor Jonathan Sawday (University of Strathclyde), ‘Calculating Engines: Minds, Bodies, and Machines on the Eve of the Enlightenment’

Professor Kevin Warwick (University of Reading), ‘Upgrading Humans via Implants – Why Not?’

Dr Elizabeth Wilson (University of New South Wales), ‘Artificial Minds and the Machinery of Affectivity: The Case of Walter Pitts’