Archive for the 'News' Category

Of Sexual Irregularities, and Other Writings on Sexual Morality

By Kris Grint, on 3 February 2014

The Bentham Project is pleased to announce the publication of the 30th volume in the Collected Works of Jeremy Bentham series. Of Sexual Irregularities, and Other Writings on Sexual Morality was published by Oxford University Press on 30 January 2014.

The present volume contains three essays, ‘Of Sexual Irregularities’, ‘Sextus’, and ‘General Idea of Not Paul, but Jesus’, written in the mid-1810s but have never before been published in authoritative form. Bentham presents the utilitarian case for sexual liberty on the grounds that the gratification of the sexual appetite constituted the purest form of pleasure, in opposition to the traditional Christian view that the only morally acceptable form of sexual activity was between one man and one woman, within the confines of marriage, for the purpose of procreation. Bentham offers classical Greece and Rome, where certain male same-sex relationships were regarded as normal, as alternative models of sexual morality, condemns the hostile portrayal of homosexuals in eighteenth-century literature, and calls for the removal of sanctions, whether imposed by religion, law, or public opinion, from all forms of consensual sexual activity, at least in so far as practised in private. Bentham was, moreover, persuaded by Malthus’s argument that population growth tended to outstrip food supply. In these circumstances, non-procreative sexual activity had the additional benefit of not contributing to an increase in the size of the population. In the course of his discussion, Bentham expresses forthright views on various aspects of sexuality.

A discount of 30% on the list price is offered for online orders of this volume until 31 March 2014. Please download the promotional flyer for information on ordering.

A related text to the present volume, the preliminary version of volume 3 of Bentham’s Not Paul, but Jesus was published online by the Bentham Project in April 2013.

Transcribe Bentham on display

By Tim Causer, on 6 June 2013

Earlier this year, UCL opened its new Octagon Gallery, a new exhibition space for displaying research being carried out at the College. Each exhibition lasts six months, and the newest is on the theme of ‘Digital Transformations’, curated by Claire Ross, Research Assistant at UCL’s Department of Information Studies and Centre for Digital Humanities (amongst other things, Claire is the lead researcher on the award-winning QRator project).

Claire has very kindly included Transcribe Bentham in her exhibition. Four Bentham manuscripts have been installed in the exhibition: JB/027/026/004 (transcribed by Diane Folan), in which Bentham recalls setting fire to ear-wigs as a child; JB/107/110/001 and JB/107/110/002 (transcribed by Joy Lloyd, Chris Leeder, and Melissa Rogers), in which Bentham sets out a series of recipes for his panopticon prison; and JB/079/047/001 as an (admittedly extreme) example of the challenges faced by Transcribe Bentham volunteers in attempting to decipher Bentham’s manuscripts. Below the manuscripts is an interactive ‘data rail’, which shows the transcripts and some contextual information.

Needless to say, we are delighted that the work of Transcribe Bentham‘s volunteers is being showcased in such a prominent spot, and will show off both their considerable efforts and the sort of discoveries which are being made through their transcripts.

We hope that those in the London area might be able to visit, and for those further away, below are a few pictures of the TB part of the exhibit.

(Thanks again to Claire for having TB included in the exhibition, and to UCL Special Collections for their work in preparing and installing the manuscripts).

20130603_10343120130603_10322420130603_10324920130603_103319

 

Foreign language Bentham scholarship

By Tim Causer, on 10 May 2013

International Bentham scholarship has rarely been in a more healthy shape, and is if to prove the fact, we have received several non-English works on Bentham which we are delighted to tell you about

 

http://www.daysart.gr/thumbnail.php?im=images/4466.jpg&py=200

First is Ο Ιερεμίας Μπένθαμ και η Ελληνική Επανάσταση (Jeremy Bentham and the Greek Revolution), published by the Greek Foundation for Parliamentarism and Democracy (Athens, 2012). The volume was composedby Konstantinos Papageorgiou (scientific direction, Introduction, Appendix, translation, and commentary), Filimon Peonidis (Introduction, Appendix, translation, and commentary), Andreas Takis (translation and commentary), and Yiannis Tassopoulos (translation and commentary).

The book seeks to study the relationship between Bentham and the revolutionary Greek governments, and presents the first critical Greek translations of the many essays and letters Bentham addressed to the Greeks, in the hopes that his philosophy might be put into practice.

Cover Das PanoptikumCover Der radikale Narr des Kapitals

Bentham’s Panopticon is given attention in two German works. First, Panoptikum, oder Das Kontrollhaus (Panopticon, or the Inspection House), published by Matthes & Seitz (Berlin, 2013), edited by Christian Welzbacher and translated by Andreas Leopold Hofbaueur, provides the first critical German translation of Bentham’s Panopticon writings.

Also by Christian Welzbacher is Der Radikale Narr des Kapitals: Jeremy Bentham, das Panoptikum und die Auto-Ikone (The Radical Fool of Capital: Jeremy Bentham, the Panopticon, and the Auto-Icon), published again by Matthes & Seitz (Berlin, 2011). According to the publisher’s website, Welzbacher explores Bentham’s ideas, and ‘shows how the Panopticon and the Auto-Icon were developed in a cosmos of bourgeois cultural history full of abysses and scurrilities’.

Another work in German is Eine Einführung in die Prinzipien der Moral und Gesetzgebung, a translation of Bentham’s Introduction to the Principles of Morals and Legislation, published by Verlag Senging (2013), and translated by Irmgard Nash and Richard Seidenkranz.

Finally, is Una Protesta Contra las Tasas Judiciales, a translation of Bentham’s Protest Against Law Taxes, introduced and edited by Andrés de la Oliva Santos, and translated by Guadalupe Rubio de Urquía, published by Thomson Reuters (Madrid, 2013).

If you know of any other recent translations of Bentham’s works, or scholarship on Bentham, do let us know!

 

tranScriptorium

By Tim Causer, on 8 February 2013

We are delighted to say that the Bentham Project, along with UCL’s Centre for Digital Humanities, is taking part in tranScriptorium, a project funded by the European Commission’s Seventh Framework Programme in the ICT for Learning and Access to Cultural Resources challenge.

tranScriptorium intends to develop innovative, efficient and cost-effective solutions for the indexing, searching, and full transcription of manuscript images, using Handwritten Text Recognition (HTR) technology.

The project consortium is as follows:

For our part, UCL will be providing expertise in manuscripts, transcription, digital humanities and crowdsourcing, and images and transcripts of Bentham manuscripts.

tranScriptorium promises to be an extremely exciting project, and one in which we are greatly looking forward to participating in. For more detail, please visit the project website, and keep up to date at the Facebook page, or follow @tranScriptorium on Twitter.

Transcribe Bentham’s second anniversary

By Tim Causer, on 14 September 2012

On 7 September 2010, Transcribe Bentham was officially launched upon an unsuspecting public, with the aim of recruiting volunteers from around the world, whatever their background, to help transcribe the unpublished manuscripts of Jeremy Bentham. Our initial progress was steady, if not necessarily spectacular: by the end of our testing period on 8 March 2011 (funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council), 1,009 manuscripts had been transcribed or partially transcribed, of which 569 (56%) were complete. The end of April 2011 also saw the cessation of our twelve-month AHRC grant, and the project’s future did not look particularly promising.

A recent Chronicle of Higher Education article (citing a paper by TB staff published in Literary and Linguistic Computing earlier this year), notes our finding that had the two full-time members of staff employed for Transcribe Bentham instead been devoted to transcription alone for twelve months, then they could have produced around two and-a-half times as many transcripts as volunteers would have done in the same period. This finding is certainly true of the state of play at the end of the testing period, but due to the vagaries of academic publishing schedules, it by no means represents what TB and its volunteers have done since, nor the current state of progress. After the testing period ended, Transcribe Bentham won a major international award, its ‘Transcription Desk’ software (developed by the University of London Computer Centre) was released on an open source basis for others to reuse and customise, and (we hope) the project has helped to promote scholarly crowdsourcing and Bentham studies over the past two years.

Most impressive of all, however, has been the sheer volume of work carried out by (an admittedly small core of) TB volunteers, despite the project being run on minimal funding for the past eighteen months, and having rather less staff time devoted to it than is ideal. As 7 September 2012, 4,255 manuscripts have been transcribed or partially transcribed. 4,033 (94%) of these transcripts are now complete. This means that they are of the required standard for uploading to UCL’s digital repository, and for use, ultimately, in the production of future volumes of The Collected Works of Jeremy Bentham.

This means that volunteer transcribers have achieved yet another landmark, having completed over 4,000 transcripts (or over 2.1 million words, plus extensive XML markup). There are often worries about the quality of the products of crowdsourced tasks, but we are delighted to report that despite having to deal with Bentham’s handwriting, syntax, style, and occasional habit of almost obliterating a page with deletions, marginalia and interlineal additions, the work of transcribers is of an extremely high standard. The amount of effort, care and attention that TB volunteers put in to ensure that their work is accurate is second to none. They are also transcribing at a faster rate than one full-time member of staff could manage if she or he were devoted solely to transcribing; an unlikely scenario, given our multifarious duties! We are very lucky that they have chosen to participate, and that they continue to do so.

So, where next for the intiative? Transcribe Bentham will at the heart of the Consolidated Bentham Papers Repository, a project funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation which begins officially on 1 October, and is funded for two years. This will see much of the UCL Bentham Papers digitised and made available for transcription and research, as well as all of the Bentham material held by our new partner institution, the British Library. Significant improvements will be made to the transcription interface to make the process more straightforward for volunteers, and we will be consulting with transcribers as to what kind of improvements they would find useful (this software will, again, be released on an open source basis for other projects to utilise). We hope this new interface will prove to be more attractive to current and potential volunteers, and further increase the rate of transcription. We have also received some further exciting news, and look forward to talking about that in the coming months.

As ever, we end by thanking our volunteers as without them, there would be no Transcribe Bentham. We remain hugely grateful for their time and efforts, and think that the work they do should be celebrated. You can keep up to date with the progress of Transcribe Bentham at the project’s blog, and register to participate at the Transcription Desk.

Jeremy Bentham’s third head

By Tim Causer, on 23 July 2012

Of those who know something of Jeremy Bentham’s auto-icon—his preserved skeleton, dressed in his clothes, which sits in a box here at UCL—a few will be aware that Bentham originally planned that his real (preserved) head would form part of the display. Unfortunately—or fortunately, depending on your point of view—the result of the preservation process was decidedly unpleasant; those brave enough can have a look at the real thing in this Bentham Project video. Though the real head used to be displayed in a box of its own, on top of the auto-icon cabinet, it is no longer on public display as it has been classed as ‘human remains’. The head is extremely fragile (don’t believe those myths about students kicking it around like a football), and is now stored in environmentally-controlled conditions at UCL’s Institute of Archaeology. Access to it is very rarely granted, as even the slightest motion can cause hairs to fall off.

Bentham’s auto-icon, with Bentham’s first head

The preserved original head has never been part of the auto-icon. Since the process went so awry, a second head was created and it is this one with which most will be familiar. It wears Bentham’s hat, and some of his real hair was threaded into the wax. This second head is apparently an extremely good likeness—Bentham’s friend (Lord) Henry Brougham suggested that it was ‘so perfect that it seems as if alive’—and is certainly far less disturbing than the first.

The second head: the official version

Much less well-known is Bentham’s third head, though it is far less official than the other two. It is another (much cruder) wax head, this time dating from the 1980s. One suspects that Lord Brougham would not have been so taken with this likeness, which is more country squire than utilitarian philosopher. Housed in a wooden box of its own, it was on display at the Jeremy Bentham pub—located just a quick walk from the auto-icon, on University Street—until a few years ago, when the pub underwent renovation works. The head was going to be disposed of and was salvaged by the Bentham Project, and had been stored in Room 112 at 26 Gordon Square (currently my office) ever since.

The third head: a little too long out in the sun

We are currently in the process of moving offices, and there will be no room for the third head in my new room. Fortunately, UCL’s Student Union is providing it with sanctuary, and it should ultimately be displayed there. We are very glad that it is going to a good home, and look forward to seeing it on public access again. (I must admit that I won’t miss its orange visage staring out at me from its box).

Update, 21 May 2013: If you want to see Bentham’s third head, it is now on display in the Huntley Bar at UCLU.

Journal of Bentham Studies relaunched

By Tim Causer, on 13 December 2011

The Bentham Project has recently been working in association with UCL Library Services on the JISC-funded EPICURE project (E-Publishing Infrastructure Capitalising on UCL’s Repositories), which has introduced a model for e-publishing across the college.

Our open-access forum for debate and discussion of all aspects of Bentham’s life and thought, and utilitarianism more generally, the Journal of Bentham Studies, was selected as the pilot publication for this project. Work was carried out to reformat all of the articles published since the journal’s inception in 1997, and transfer them to new, more attractive home. The Bentham Project are delighted to say that this work is now complete. The Journal can now be accessed via http://ojs.lib.ucl.ac.uk/index.php/jbs, and its archive from http://ojs.lib.ucl.ac.uk/index.php/jbs/issue/archive.

This year’s volume (vol. 13) contains the following papers:

If you have any queries or comments regarding the journal, please contact Tim Causer (t.causer@ucl.ac.uk).We are very grateful to the generous funding from JISC which made this work possible.

Transcribe Bentham and the 2011 Digital Heritage Award

By Tim Causer, on 8 December 2011

Hot on the heels of Transcribe Bentham‘s Award of Distinction in this year’s Prix Ars Electronica, the world’s premier digital arts competition, we learned in mid-October from Dr Melissa Terras, of UCL’s Centre for Digital Humanities and part of the TB team, that the project had been nominated for the 2011 Digital Heritage Award. This award was to be voted on and presented at the Digital Strategies for Heritage conference in Rotterdam, from 6 to 9 December.

The other nominees for the award were as follows:

The award focused specifically upon crowdsourcing projects, and it was a great honour to be nominated among such exalted company – any of these four would be more than worth winners.

Melissa, who is giving a full paper on Transcribe Bentham at the conference today, presented the project to the conference attendees to a warm reception. Here is an extract from Melissa’s blog:

Yesterday was a fairly big day: Transcribe Bentham was one of the 5 international projects nominated for the Digital Heritage Award 2011 (you can see our specific nomination here). I had to give a 3 minute pitch in front of the entire crowd on behalf of the project team, bright lights and all, in the opening plenary session, followed by manning an information booth, above, in all the breaks to solicit votes. You can see the voting system above – people had to place a sticker on our sheet. By the end of the day we had filled quite a few of these – fantastic to have such support, and I talked to a lot of very interesting and interested people about the project. The winner of the award was Digital Koot, well done all! – a little bird tells me we came a close runner up. But to be honest, having the opportunity to pitch to such a large audience, and meet so many interesting people, was wonderful, and it was an honour to be nominated. All good fun.

A hearty well done to the Digital Koot team from all here at the Bentham Project and Transcribe Bentham, and congratulations to Melissa for running it so close! Many, many thanks too to all for the support shown to the project.

ISUS XII: Call for Papers

By Tim Causer, on 21 November 2011

The 12th Conference of the International Society for Utilitarian Studies (ISUS) will be held from 8 to 11 August at the Stern School of Business, New York University, 40-44 West 4th Street, New York.

ISUS XII welcomes proposals for papers and sessions on all subjects related to utilitarianism, including moral philosophy, economics, psychology, political theory, intellectual history, environment, law and jurisprudence.

Proposals should be submitted as abstracts of about 400 words for a 15-20 minute paper, or of 600 words for a session of three to four papers (together with abstracts of the session papers) by no later than 15 March 2012 to isus2012@gmail.com. All proposals should include the title and subject of each paper, the presenter’s name, institutional affiliation, and any technology requests (e.g. Powerpoint, video etc).

The ISUS Committee will award a prize of £250 for the best paper presented at the conference by a graduate student.

Important dates:

  • Deadline for proposal submissions: 15 March 2012
  • Notification of accepted/rejected proposals: 1 May 2012
  • Deadline for submission of full papers: 15 July 2012

Confirmed Panels and Plenary Speakers
Opening Keynote Address

  • Roger Crisp (Oxford, Philosophy): ‘What is Utilitarianism?’

Neuroscience and Ethics Panel

  • Joshua Greene (Harvard, Psychology): Principal speaker
  • Walter Sinnott-Armstrong (Duke, Philosophy): Chair

Jeremy Bentham in the History of Political Thought

  • David Armitage (Harvard, History): Principal speaker
  • Philip Schofield (UCL, Laws)

 History of Utilitarian Thought

  • James Moore (Concordia University, Political Science): Principal speaker, ‘Hume’s Influence on the Development of Utilitarianism’

Environment and Utilitarianism

  • Tim Mulgan (St Andrews, Philosophy): Principal speaker, ‘Ethics for a Broken World’

 

The International Society for Utilitarian StudiesISUS – provides a forum for scholarly debate and research on utilitarianism and its historical development, and on its present-day relevance in such fields as ethics, law, economics, political theory, and public policy.   http://www.ucl.ac.uk/Bentham-Project/isus

ISUS also publishes the journal Utilitas, a leading international review presenting original research in all aspects of utilitarian theory and encompassing the disciplines of moral philosophy, economics, psychology, political theory, intellectual history, law and jurisprudence.

Latest ‘Collected Works’ volume published

By Tim Causer, on 2 August 2011

Hot on the heels of Writings on the Poor Laws (vol II) and Of the Limits of the Penal Branch of Jursprudence,  we are delighted to announce that the latest volume of The Collected Works of Jeremy Bentham has been published by Oxford University Press.

Church-of-Englandism and its Catechism Examined – edited by James Crimmins (University of Western Ontario), and Catherine Fuller (Bentham Project, UCL) – was first published in 1818. It constitutes part of Bentham’s rigorous critique of the political, legal, and ecclesiastical establishment. Bentham argued that the Church’s educational system instilled habits of insincerity into the population, and protected a system of abuses which were profitable to clergymen and the ruling classes. Bentham called for the ‘euthanasia’ of the Church, since government-sponsored proposals to ‘reform’ the system of abuse would in fact propagate it.

This authoritative edition of the text includes and editorial introduction, and an appendix – published for the first time – examining the relationship between church and state.  The volume also features comprehensive annotation, collations of extracts published during Bentham’s lifetime, and subject and name indexes.

For more information on the volume, and on ordering it, please see the OUP website