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TORCH's New Network scheme funds the creation of one-year academic networks to engage in innovative interdisciplinary work through a series of seminars, talks, and workshops. 

Samel Gormley (DPhil French Literature student) is currently in the process of putting together an application to create a new network entitled "Life Itself in Theory and Practice", and is looking for intellectually curious scholars from all disciplines (both sciences and humanities) and all career points— DPhil, post-doc, early-career, and established academics—to join the network's core team and help guide its intellectual engagement at the Radcliffe Humanities Building as well as throughout the University. 

Please contact before the end of the month to express interest in joining the team. Once the core team has been assembled, the application will be sent by June 1st.


"Life Itself in Theory and Practice" aims to engage scholars from the humanities and sciences in order to explore the concept of "life itself" in the 21st century. In the wake of scientific developments in synthetic  biology, genetics, and artificial intelligence, it is our belief that the line between life and non-life needs to be reconsidered, retheorised, and redrawn. Contemporary critical returns to vitalist philosophies (Braidotti, Esposito, Bennett) are emphasising the self-organising and creative potential of life, even as science hails the ever more complete mastery over the mechanisms of vital processes. Without pursuing a specific agenda, this network will seek to foster lively, hybrid discussion around vital concepts that transcend disciplinary divides.

The scope of the network includes, but is by no means limited to, the following topics:

- What do we mean when we talk about "life"? How do definitions differ between the sciences and the humanities?

- Representations and narratives of "life itself" in literature, art, and cinema.

- Philosophies of life from the 20th century to the present.

- The contested legacies of vitalism: what can science and art do with/for vitalism today?

- The politicisation, economisation, and commercialisation of life: biopower, biopolitics, and biovalue under capitalism.

- Synthetic biology and artificial life: in what ways is science redrawing the boundaries of "life"?