Science and/or Poetry: Interdisciplinarity in Notebooks 

Lancaster University 

26-27 July 2023 

What role do notebooks play in the shaping of literary and scientific history? How and why should difficult-to-decipher manuscripts be interpreted, particularly when their contents cross genres, disciplines, and time periods? What is the relationship between poetry and science in notebooks? This two-day conference hosted by Lancaster University’s Arts and Humanities Research Council-funded Davy Notebooks Project ( will question the nature of notebooks, considering how this complicated yet rich form constitutes both literary and scientific identities.  

The Davy Notebooks Project is an ongoing effort to create an online, free-to-access digital edition of chemist and poet Sir Humphry Davy’s (1778-1829) surviving notebooks, which number around seventy-five in all. These manuscripts are especially interesting thanks to the wide range of genres they encompass, containing records of scientific experiments, poetry, geological observations, travel accounts, personal philosophy, and more. While Davy’s notebooks provide a starting point for our shared investigations, we hope this conference will include a broad range of speakers on the use and meaning of notebooks.  

Paper topics may address but are not limited to: 

•     Notebooks as a form or tool for thinking through experiments or works 

•     Cross genres in notebooks, including poetry and science  

•     Notebooks as a space for multiple and collaborative authorship 

•     Altered notebooks, taking in editing practices and posthumous intervention 

•     Difficult notebooks: grappling with sexism, racism, and colonialism  

The event is being funded by the AHRC and is limited to twenty places. Some bursaries will be available for Early Career Researchers and unfunded scholars; anyone not in full-time, permanent academic employment is welcome to apply for these. Please note your interest in a bursary in your proposal. 

Proposals for twenty-minute papers are invited. Please submit a 300-word abstract by 9 December 2022. Notifications of acceptance will be sent by 13 January 2023. Proposals, as well as any questions or enquiries, may be sent to: 

For more information on the Davy Notebooks Project, please visit: 

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