CFP: Writing Fieldwork - A symposium on writing in (and about) the field sciences

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Writing Fieldwork: A symposium on writing in (and about) the field sciences

Princeton University, April 24-25, 2015

A Call for Papers

We invite contributions to a two-day symposium on fieldwork, its history, and the place of writing and texts within it, to be hosted by the Program in History of Science at Princeton University.

Fieldwork and the field sciences have long been rich subjects for historical and reflexive scholarship. Academics have devoting considerable attention to theories of fieldwork as well as its practices, including the expedition, scientific collection, field measurement, and ethnographic observation. However, though we so often implicitly rely on field notes and travel narratives as archival and critical sources, attention to the act of writing itself is too often relegated to the background. Accordingly, we solicit presentations that critically examine the histories and practices of fieldwork and scientific travel, especially those that take up writing and texts as sources, archives, or central preoccupations.

However, we nonetheless consider our ambit to be broad and wide-ranging.  ‘Texts’ need not refer only to written documents; we understand it to include still and moving images, oral histories, art objects, or any other products of scientific fieldwork.  Likewise, ‘fieldwork’ can include field sciences avant la lettre, scientific travel, geographic exploration, and much else besides.  Though the conference will be hosted by the Program in the History of Science, presentations need not be historical in nature.  Scholars from all disciplines are welcome, including but hardly limited to literary studies, history, art history, anthropology, sociology, biology and other social, natural, and physical sciences. Presentist or interdiscplinary perspectives are especially encouraged.

The conference will be held Friday afternoon and Saturday, April 24-25.  Some funding for travel and lodging costs will be available.

Please submit proposals and abstracts of no more than 500 words to by December 1, 2014. Graduate students and early-career scholars are especially encouraged to contribute. Though papers need not be precirculated, participants are invited on a voluntary basis to submit field notes or primary sources in conjunction with their presentations which will be made available to participants in advance of the symposium.

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