Benjamin Morgan - "The Outward Mind" & Lorraine Daston - "Science in the Archives"

Wednesday, April 12, 2017 - 6:00pm - 7:30pm

Benjamin Morgan discusses The Outward Mind: Materialist Aesthetics in Victorian Science and Literature and Lorraine Daston discusses Science in the Archives: Pasts, Presents, Futures.

At the Co-op

RSVP HERE (Please note that your RSVP is requested, but not required)

About The Outward Mind: Though underexplored in contemporary scholarship, the Victorian attempts to turn aesthetics into a science remain one of the most fascinating aspects of that era. In The Outward Mind, Benjamin Morgan approaches this period of innovation as an important origin point for current attempts to understand art or beauty using the tools of the sciences. Moving chronologically from natural theology in the early nineteenth century to laboratory psychology in the early twentieth, Morgan draws on little-known archives of Victorian intellectuals such as William Morris, Walter Pater, John Ruskin, and others to argue that scientific studies of mind and emotion transformed the way writers and artists understood the experience of beauty and effectively redescribed aesthetic judgment as a biological adaptation. Looking beyond the Victorian period to humanistic critical theory today, he also shows how the historical relationship between science and aesthetics could be a vital resource for rethinking key concepts in contemporary literary and cultural criticism, such as materialism, empathy, practice, and form. At a moment when the tumultuous relationship between the sciences and the humanities is the subject of ongoing debate, Morgan argues for the importance of understanding the arts and sciences as incontrovertibly intertwined.

About Benjamin Morgan: Benjamin Morgan is assistant professor of English at the University of Chicago.

About Science in the Archives: Archives bring to mind rooms filled with old papers and dusty artifacts. But for scientists, the detritus of the past can be a treasure trove of material vital to present and future research: fossils collected by geologists; data banks assembled by geneticists; weather diaries trawled by climate scientists; libraries visited by historians. These are the vital collections, assembled and maintained over decades, centuries, and even millennia, which define the sciences of the archives.

With Science in the Archives, Lorraine Daston and her co-authors offer the first study of the important role that these archives play in the natural and human sciences. Reaching across disciplines and centuries, contributors cover episodes in the history of astronomy, geology, genetics, philology, climatology, medicine, and moreā€”as well as fundamental practices such as collecting, retrieval, and data mining. Chapters cover topics ranging from doxology in Greco-Roman Antiquity to NSA surveillance techniques of the twenty-first century. Thoroughly exploring the practices, politics, economics, and potential of the sciences of the archives, this volume reveals the essential historical dimension of the sciences, while also adding a much-needed long­-term perspective to contemporary debates over the uses of Big Data in science.

About Lorraine Daston: Lorraine Daston is director of the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science in Berlin and is visiting professor in the Committee on Social Thought at the University of Chicago.

Event Location: 
Seminary Co-op Bookstore
5751 S. Woodlawn Avenue
Chicago, IL 60637