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ICHSTM 2013 : Science and Optical Media Simposium


When Jul 22, 2013 - Jul 28, 2013
Where Manchester
Submission Deadline Nov 1, 2012
Notification Due Nov 14, 2012
Categories    visual culture   optical science   media   science and fiction

Call For Papers

CFP: Science and Optical Media (ICHSTM, Manchester, July 22-28, 2013; Deadline November 1, 2012)

Contributions are invited for a symposium on “Science and Optical Media” to be held in July 2013 at
the 24th International Congress for the History of Science, Technology and Medicine at the University
of Manchester. This symposium seeks to trace the significance of optical media both within and
beyond the limits of scientific practice.

The first session, “Optical Media and Scientific Practices,” will examine the use of optical media
in the construction and corroboration of scientific facts. The use of lenses, mirrors, and prisms,
for example, not only transformed the scientific understanding of light, vision, and optics but also
generated a tremendous wealth of scientific knowledge concerning both the infinitesimally small
and the infinitely vast. The development of optical storage media also transformed the way in which
scientific facts were ascertained and substantiated. The indexicality of the photographic image,
for example, enabled it to function as concrete evidence of the data it recorded, even when the
images it produced could not be perceived by the human eye. The case studies provided in this
session will thus be particularly concerned with the following topics: the scientific understanding of
light, vision, and optics; the development and application of optical media as scientific instruments
in industry, technology, medicine, and science (including microphotography, astrophotography,
x-ray photography, computed tomography, etc.); and the evidentiary value of scientific images,
particularly with regard to the history of scientific frauds, hoaxes, and pseudosciences.

The second session, “Scientific Images and the Scientific Imagination,” will examine the influence of
scientific images on the work of creative artists, writers, and filmmakers. The images generated by
scientific researchers have inspired some artists to revise their notions of realism and verisimilitude,
while other artists have been inspired to imagine fantastic scenarios based on the new possibilities
opened up by scientific visualizations. The case studies provided in this session will thus be
particularly concerned with the following topics: the use of optical media to communicate scientific
knowledge to the general public; the aesthetics of scientific images, from meteorological charts to
brain maps; and the impact of scientific images on art, literature, and film.

Please submit an abstract for either session (no longer than 500 words) and a brief
biographical statement to Anthony Enns ( and Margarida Medeiros
( by November 1, 2012. Selections for the panel will be made by
November 14, 2012. Please be aware that sending an abstract indicates that you plan to attend the ICHSTM conference in Manchester in July 2013. Interested participants may submit abstracts to more than one ICHSTM symposium; however, panelists may only present one paper.

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