Stories About Science: Exploring Science Communication and Entertainment Media

June 4-5, 2015, University of Manchester

Today is a golden age for science in entertainment. Academy Award winning films such as Gravity and television ratings titans like The Big Bang Theory have proven that science–based entertainment products can be both critically acclaimed and financially successful. In fact, many high profile scientific organizations including the US National Academy of Sciences and the Wellcome Trust in the UK now believe that science communication can, and perhaps should, be both informative and entertaining. These groups have embraced movies and television as legitimate vehicles for science communication by developing initiatives to facilitate scientific involvement in the production of films and television programs. Science communication scholarship on entertainment media has been slow to catch up with the enthusiasm shown by these scientific organizations, as science communication studies of science in mass media still predominantly focus on news media and factual documentaries. Despite the scarcity of academic research on science communication and entertainment media there is a growing interest amongst scholars in seeking to understand the interplay between scientific work and its portrayal in entertainment media including film, television, radio, new media, graphic novels/comics, and computer games.

This two-day symposium seeks to bring scholars from across disciplines together to explore the communication of science through entertainment media in order to uncover new ways of approaching, understanding and theorizing about this topic. Confirmed speakers include Bruce Lewenstein (Cornell University), Felicity Mellor (Imperial College London), Declan Fahy (American University), Jane Gregory (University of Manchester), and Emma Weitkamp (University of the West of England). This Wellcome Trust-funded event will run from Thursday 4 to Friday 5 June 2015 and is organized by the Science and Entertainment Lab research group. (thescienceandentertainmentlab.com) within the Centre for the History of Science, Technology and Medicine, comprised of David A. Kirby, William R. Macauley, and Amy C. Chambers. Further information can be found here: http://www.chstm.manchester.ac.uk/newsandevents/conferences/storiesaboutscience/.

Call for papers

Proposals for 20 minute paper presentations are warmly invited. Please submit an abstract of no more than 250 words along with a short biographical statement (email attachments in Word format) before Friday 19 December 2014 to the organizers at storiesaboutscience@manchester.ac.uk. The organizers are seeking papers that investigate science communication and entertainment media from a variety of disciplinary and global perspectives as it is practiced and experienced by a diverse array of publics. They aim to move away from approaches to the study of science communication that are restricted to interpretations of the scientific ‘accuracy’ of entertainment media texts. Instead, the organizers are keen to elicit contributions that critically examine the synthesis and mutual reshaping of science and entertainment media. Therefore, the organizers invite paper submissions that critically analyze how stories about science are communicated through production, dissemination, and audiencing of entertainment media texts.

Invited participants’ accommodations will be arranged and paid for during the symposium. In addition, there are limited funds available to contribute towards travel costs for those unable to obtain support from their home institution.

Deadline: December 19, 2014

Posted: October 23, 2014