Science in Culture

The Poetry Forum 


The University of St Andrews

Parliament Hall, South Street, St Andrews, KY16 9JU

31 March – 1 April 2017

Science in Culture

Technology, Mobility and Modernity in Italian and European Poetry and Cinema


The relationship between the sciences and the humanities is an area of studies that is in need of further research in the face of the continuous advancement and expansion of technology and science and their influences on the ‘happiness’ of society over the last two hundred years. Technology has certainly created tremendous opportunities for mobility, communication and wellbeing, eliciting enthusiastic responses as well as preoccupations across intellectual élites and society. In the 1830s Theophile Gaultier warned about the ‘end of books’ in connection with the development of technology and W.B. Yeats in the 1890s referred to ‘the man of science’ as ‘often a person who has exchanged his soul for a formula’. On the other hand F. T. Marinetti promoted an exaltation of the technical and scientific progress in his 1909 Manifesto del futurismo.

In this international conference we would like to focus our attention on the interstice between sciences and humanities, two areas of knowledge that belong by default to different research paradigms. In particular we would like to debate the areas of interconnection and exchange of knowledge between the sciences and the humanities that are central in the advancement, creativity and innovation within society. We would like to do so by studying the mutual influences that technology, poetry and film have had during modernity at a European level.

The official language for the Conference is English.

Conference Programme


9:00am: Opening of the Conference and of the Works

Professor Jordi Larios (St Andrews) and Dr Rossella Riccobono (St Andrews)


9:15 – 10:15 Opening Keynote speaker

Pierpaolo Antonello (University of Cambridge)

Filming Machines: Industrial Propaganda in Post-WWII Italy


First Panel: Cinema and Science (10:15-11:15)

Silvia Casini (University of Aberdeen)

LifeBeyond Control: Cinematographic Experiments between Beauty and Chance


Sophie Hopmeier (University of St Andrews)

Au Pays des Dogons (1935): Cinematic and Pre-Industrial Technologies in the Musée de l’Homme 

Coffee break (11:15-11:30)


11:30 – 12:30 Keynote speaker

Michael Cowan (University of St Andrews)

The Birth of the Cine-Club from the Spirit of Amateur Science: Early German Film Societies and the Question of Knowledge.

Lunch break  12:30-14:00pm (lunch in town)


Second Panel: Cinema and Mobility (14:00-14:40)

Johannes Riquet and Anna Zdrenyk (University of Zurich)

Between Progress and Nostalgia: Technology, Geopolitics and James Bond’s Railway Journeys


14:40- 15:20 Keynote speaker 

Marco D’Agostini (Film Director – University of Udine)

New Technologies and Film Direction. An Ever Changing Language Across a Personal Experience.

Coffee break (15:20-15:40)


15:40-16:40 Documentary Projection (English Subtitles)

Marco D’Agostini (Film Director – University of Udine)

I volti spirituali del Friuli (2014).


19:30 Social Dinner at Zizzi, South Street, St Andrews.





9:30 – 10:30 Opening Keynote speaker

Annalisa Volpone (University of Perugia)

Neural Modernism and the Phisiology of Mental Wellbeing


Coffee break (10:30-10:45)


First Panel: Science and Philosophy  (10:45-12:45)

Giuseppe Andrea Liberti (University of Naples “Federico II”)

Scientific Lexicon in Contemporary Italian Poetry: the Michele Sovente’s Contropar(ab)ola Case

Francesco Sorrenti (University of Genoa)

Between Enlightment and Libertinism: Scientific Fascination and Skepticism in G.B. Casti


Mimmo Cangiano (The Hebrew University of Jerusalem)

Aristotle Takes Just One Step


Michael Reinsborough (King’s College London)

Reference in Complex Social and Technical Relations


13:00-14:30pm Lunch break (lunch in town)


14:30am: Welcome and Opening of the Afternoon Works

Dr Carlo Perrotta (Italian Consul General, Edinburgh)

Second Panel: Science and Poetry (14:40-16:00)


Eleonora Lima (University of Wisconsin-Madison)

Rationalizing the Infinite: Gott’s Spongy Universe Theory in Paolo Volponi’s Poem ‘La spugna’


Bart Dreesen (Catholic University of Leuven)

“È ancora possibile la poesia?”: Montale, the Economic Boom, and the Road Towards a ‘Post-Lyric’ Poetry


Gernot Waldner (Harvard University)

Creativity: A Link between Science and Culture. Bruno Munari’s “Fantasia”.


Coffee break (16:00-16:20)


16:20 – 16:50 Final Discussion RoundTable with Keynote Speakers.


Final remarks – Closure by 17:00.