Call for Symposia: European Society for the History of Science Meeting 2020 (Bologna, 31 August – 3 September 2020; Deadline 15 December 2019)

7 november 2019

The Scientific and Organizing Committees of ESHS 2020 invites proposals for symposia to be held during the conference. The theme of the 2020 meeting is “Visual, Material and Sensory Cultures of Science”, a very broad and inclusive topic. Sessions and talks might address the history of the sensory approaches to scientific objects, their material culture, as well as the building of scientific practices based on the use of the senses (vision, hearing, touch and smell), with particular attention to the history of the relationship between the visual arts and the sciences across nations, periods, and historiographies; visual epistemologies and the cultural practice of thinking scientifically with images; and the relationship between different media (print, photography, digital imaging, etc.) and scientific disciplines in various social, political, and economic contexts. Given the developments of the discipline in the past twenty years, we see this theme as particularly topical and capable of generating broad historical questions at the same time. This theme will provide ample opportunity to take stock and reflect on “sensory cultures” and on the “visual turn”, to assess their strengths and weaknesses, but also to explore their relationship with competing or overlapping historiographical trends such as the material and global history of science, medicine and technology.


Four speakers in a 120-minute slot. The organiser will chair the symposium or may propose a chair (who may not be a speaker in the session) and if requested also a commentator. Each speaker presents one after another. The session is then open to questions and general discussion, which may be introduced by a commentator, if requested. In addition to the symposium abstract an abstract is required for the presentation of each speaker (but not for the commentator). In selecting symposia for the conference, the Scientific Committee will give preference to those that address the conference theme in one or more of its different aspects (see above). We encourage proposals that reflect diversity, including speakers from all genders, with different geographical origin and nationalities, as well as with different institutional affiliations and stages of their professional careers.

Prospective symposium organisers are advised to issue an open call for participants, e.g. through the Mersenne mailing list (linkand others. If organisers wish to propose more than one symposium on the same theme, then they should use a single title for the connected sessions with a number to distinguish them, e.g. Visual Language in Modern Geology 1 and Visual Language in Modern Geology 2. No more than four symposia may be proposed on the same theme. Please note that individuals may not appear in the programme as a speaker and/or commentator more than once, unless they are a plenary lecturer or prizewinner. 

Individuals may chair more than one session, however, and speak or comment in one session and chair another. Accordingly, individuals who have submitted an abstract as part of a symposium proposal should not respond to the call for standalone papers unless they have received notification that the symposium proposal was unsuccessful. The conference organisers will inform symposium proposers whether their proposal has been successful by the end of January, well in advance of the closure of the call for standalone papers. The proposal, submitted by one or two organizers, should include an abstract about the theme and the rationale of the symposium, with the abstracts of all the papers.

Each abstract should not exceed 300 words (including possible references) and should be accompanied by 3 keywords. A short biography (max. 150 words) of the organizers and all the speakers, including the commentator (if requested) is required. Proposals should be prepared in a single Word file (size 12 Times New Roman font, text single-spaced) according to the following format:

  1.  Title of the Symposium
  2. Organizer(s) (full name(s), academic title, institution, address, email and a short biographical note of max.150 words). Please, indicate the corresponding organiser with the symbol *
  3. Abstract (max. 300 words, including possible references)
  4. Keywords (3)
  5. Chairperson (full name, academic title, institution, address, email and a short biographical note of max.150 words)
  6. [only if requested] Commentator (full name, academic title, institution, address, email and a short biographical note of max.150 words)

To be followed by the abstracts of the four papers, in order of presentation, according to the format below:

  1. Title
  2. Author(s) (full name(s), academic title, institution, address, email and a short biographical note of max.150 words). In case of multiple authors the first author should be the presenting and corresponding author.
  3. Abstract (max. 300 words, including possible references)
  4. Keywords (3)

Please send your proposal, as an attached file, by email (with subject “ESHS 2020 Symposium Proposal”) to eshs2020@storiadellascienza.netProposals may be submitted from 15 October 2019 until 23.59GMT on 15 December 2019.