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Molecules and Models: seeing structures

Molecular models participate in attempts to understand the

structure of matter; they are one of the most recognizable of

scientific artefacts, featuring for example in Maggie Hambling’s

celebrated portrait of Dorothy Hodgkin and in the much-

reproduced photograph of Watson and Crick beside a model of

DNA. There is now a scholarly literature on models in general

and on specific ones, such as DNA.

The search for the structure of the universe is centuries old. We

often identify the work on John Dalton as marking a significant

change in thinking about the nature of matter. Work on the

structure of matter, that is, of everything, includes many of the

best-known scientific advances of the last two hundred years.

Organised by the Centre for Visual Arts and Culture (CVAC)

this workshop will draw attention to the importance of these

changes in how the world is


, and by extension

ourselves. CVAC’s annual public lecture on

‘The Construction of


will be part of the workshop.

A number of significant questions will be raised at the


• What role have molecular models played in scientific


• Can they therefore help us understand the nature of that


• What role do they play in non-specialist representations of


• How do they illuminate the theme of ‘structure’?

• Might studies of molecular models and representations of

them help us understand ‘visual thinking’?

It is hoped to present a proposal for a special issue to the

Science Museum Group Journal

(a peer-reviewed e-journal)

following the meeting.

The workshop will be held from early afternoon on 21 November

2017 until lunchtime on 22 November 2017 at St Mary’s

College (Kenworthy Hall).

For further information contact Professor Ludmilla Jordanova