Dear BSHS Members,

Once again it is my pleasure to report on recent discussions at the last meeting of Council, and also to bring to your attention some upcoming opportunities to present at conferences and apply for prizes. 

Singer Prize Announcement

The British Society for the History of Science is delighted to invite submissions for the Singer Prize 2020.  The prize, of up to £500, is awarded every two years to the writer of an essay outstanding in research, novelty and expression, based on original research into any aspect of the history of science, technology or medicine. The prize is intended for recent entrants into the profession. Candidates must be registered for a postgraduate degree or have been awarded such in the five years prior to the closing date (30 April 2020).  All nationalities are welcome.

Essays must not exceed 8,000 words and should be submitted in English.  They should adhere to BJHS guidance to authors in all respects. The prize may be awarded to the writer of one outstanding essay, or may be awarded to two or more entrants. Publication in the British Journal for the History of Science will be at the discretion of the Editor. Essays under consideration elsewhere or in press are not eligible.

An announcement of the winning essay will be made in a future issue of this Newsletter then posted on the BSHS website. The author may well be asked to give a lecture based on its contents at the BSHS Annual Conference or on another mutually convenient occasion. Please send your submissions to https://awardsmanager.awardsplatform.com by the deadline of 30 April 2020.

Call for Papers and Symposia: BSHS Annual Conference 2020

The British Society for the History of Science invites proposals for individual papers and organised symposia for its 2020 Annual Conference, which this year will be held in Aberystwyth, home of the National Library of Wales and Aberystwyth University, from Wednesday 8 July to Saturday 11 July.

The BSHS is committed to providing an inclusive forum for research and research-led engagement with HSTM, and therefore welcomes proposals for papers and symposia on any topic related to the history of science, technology, or medicine, relating to any period of history, and any part of the world. Established and early career scholars affiliated to universities, museums, and other research organisations, postgraduate students and independent scholars of any nationality are welcome at the BSHS Conference, and we encourage all equally to apply. We aim to provide a conference that is welcoming to all delegates regardless of age, sex, gender identity and expression, sexual orientation, (dis)ability, race, ethnicity, and religion.

  1. Individual paper proposers should submit a title and abstract for a paper of 20-25 minutes to the conference’s Paper Proposal site at Oxford Abstracts. If accepted, these papers will be arranged into themed sessions by the BSHS. This year the BSHS will consider individual paper proposals from speakers who wish to present remotely, rather than attend the conference in person. In considering these submissions, priority will be given to prospective speakers whose participation would require air travel and to those who would face barriers to in-person participation because of their personal circumstances.
  2. Symposium organisers should submit details of their proposed session to the conference’s Symposium Proposal site at Oxford Abstracts.

A symposium may take the form of:

  • an organised panel (three papers in 90 minutes, with (optionally) a predetermined chair)
  • a roundtable (three or more discussants initiating a conversation with the audience)
  • a workshop (one or more facilitators leading other delegates in an activity).

Sessions that do not fit any of these categories may be proposed to the BSHS Programmes Coordinator.

Prospective organisers of symposia should note that named participants in their events (speakers, roundtable discussants, and workshop facilitators) will also need to supply their details via the Oxford Abstracts system by the deadline, and speakers will need to provide a paper title and abstract. Organisers are also asked to take note of the BSHS’s Statement on Equality and Diversity at its annual conference. 

We strongly encourage symposium organisers to issue public calls for participants via Mersenne, H-Net, and other mailing lists and social media, as appropriate.

The deadline for receipt of paper and symposia proposals via the Oxford Abstracts system is Monday 6 January 2020. The BSHS will inform applicants of the outcome by Friday 14 February 2020.

For further information about the annual conference, please see the BSHS Annual Conference 2020 Website.

President’s Call for Annual Conference Symposium on ‘The State of the Discipline’

I mentioned in earlier Presidential newsletters that, whilst in office, I am keen to promote conversation on the state of the HPS/STS discipline. The Aberystwyth conference provides an ideal opportunity for this. By ‘state of the discipline’, I mean to address attention to questions including:

  • How effective are we at providing career paths for early career researchers to graduate from Masters and PhD training into research projects and permanent positions? How good are we at capturing research funding to enable this?
  • How are HPS / STS faring in the current ecology of universities and heritage organisations?
  • How are the multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary tendencies of our disciplines creating new fields for study? 

I’m keen to welcome contributions to a panel discussion and/or paper session in these and any cognate areas. Please e-mail me at: [email protected] with the subject: “BSHS Conference: State of the Discipline” 

Twitter Conference

As part of a wide-ranging presentation on Postgraduate activities (see below), Jemma Houghton took Council through arrangements for the proposed Twitter conference. 

With the BSHS’s goal to be more environmentally conscious, we have announced the Society’s first digital conference, with the theme of global and international histories of STEM. Taking place on the 12th February 2020, this conference will embrace a novel ‘presentation’ style of Tweeting papers using the social media platform Twitter. It is a great chance to get creative sharing research. For more information see the BSHS website (http://www.bshs.org.uk/bshs-twitter-conference). The deadline for abstracts is the 2nd December 2019.

Conference Grants

The next deadline for the conference grant scheme (funding of up to £300) is December 15. The Conferences Committee are currently reviewing the schedule and terms for applying for these grants, and will announce a revised timetable in the New Year. Applicants for conferences to be held in the first half of 2020 are advised to apply to the December deadline.

Pickstone Prize Announcement

Nominations are invited for British Society for the History of Science’s prestigious Pickstone Prize for 2020. The Prize aims to recognize pioneering works that advance the scholarly understanding and interpretation of the scientific past. In focusing on academic books, it complements the Society’s Hughes Prize, which rewards engagement with broader audiences. Established in 2014 with the help of the budget surplus from the 2013 International Congress of the History of Science, Technology and Medicine, it honours the memory of our colleague Professor John Pickstone (1944-2014).

Books published in English in 2018 and 2019 are eligible for consideration.

Both single-authored and multiple-authored books are eligible, but not edited collections. Nominations can be made by anyone.  Self-nominations are allowed, as are multiple nominations by a single nominator. Nominations must be available as printed books. Please send your nomination(s) https://awardsmanager.awardsplatform.com by the deadline of 31 January 2020.

An announcement of the winning title will be made via the BSHS President’s Newsletter then posted on the BSHS website. The author may be asked to give a lecture based on its contents at the BSHS Annual Conference or on another mutually convenient occasion.

Council business, October 2019

Council heard from Adam Mosley about upcoming annual conferences. It is hoped that we may be able to meet in or near Dublin in 2021, which is believed to be the first time that the annual conference has been held outside mainland Britain. It remains to be seen whether Brexit uncertainty may affect these plans, but we are optimistic that it may be possible. 

Lucy Santos, Executive Secretary, has commenced discussions with the History of Science Section of the British Science Association to hold a BSHS Prize-giving event at their annual conference. (https://www.britishscienceassociation.org/news/british-science-festival-2020-to-be-held-in-chelmsford).  The motivation behind this initiative, which has been discussed at more than one recent Council meeting, is to gain more impact for our prizes by making them better known beyond our own immediate membership. It is hoped that the first such event will occur at the BSA Meeting in Chelmsford, 8-12th September 2020.

Council agreed that the Society should continue to fund three Masters bursaries this year. 

Council agreed to a re-shaping of the Ayrton prize. Following OEC discussion, James Sumner and Allan Jones, who are managing the prize on behalf of OEC, have redrafted the call to reflect the wider possibilities for digital engagement than were current in academic circles at the founding of the prize (in 2015). Notably it shifts emphasis from producing online resources, to digital engagement conceived in a broader sense. 

The Role of the BSHS Postgraduate Representative – Jemma Houghton writes

The primary role of the BSHS Postgraduate Representative is to speak for the needs of the postgraduate community on the Council. This is done through liaison with the BSHS Ambassadors, local postgraduate representatives at different universities across the country and internationally. Their role is to act as a point of contact between me and postgraduates at their respective institutions.

Looking to the future, we aim to develop initiatives to further benefit the postgraduate community. To this end, we have thus far launched the Postgraduate Newsletter and the BSHS Postgraduate Hub. Released monthly, the purpose of the newsletter is to enable clearer and more efficient communication of information relevant to postgraduates. A Postgraduate Hub was also introduced to the website, which collates information on BSHS activities relevant to postgraduates. It includes information in one location about funding, engagement fellowships, conferences, and many more opportunities. The Hub also features resources and advice posts dedicated to sharing knowledge and improving the skills of those new to the history of science, technology and medicine and associated disciplines. Going forward, our goal is to increase the content of the Hub to make it an essential resource for postgraduates in the BSHS.

If you would like to become a BSHS Ambassador, create resources for the Postgraduate Hub, or would just like to discuss other opportunities for postgraduates in the BSHS, then please contact Jemma at [email protected]