studies in travel writing

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The Ocean and the Seas (Centre for Comparative Literature, University of Toronto: 23-24 February 2018)

Deadline: 20 Oct 2017

Confirmed Keynote Speaker: Elizabeth Povinelli (Columbia University)

How do sea breezes set the ships of the imagination to sail? In literature from Homer to Melville to Walcott, the ocean and the seas have inspired madness and horror but also affiliation and solidarity. The world’s waters are sites of culture and labour. By allowing contact between peoples for travel, trade, war and colonization, access to the sea means access to wealth and power. The history of ocean travel has been inexorably linked with the material development of the modern world.

The ocean is also a source of knowledge. For the Greeks and Romans in antiquity, the ocean and the coast represented the boundary of their world, which expanded as new forms of sea travel developed. Homer’s heroes set out across the wine-dark sea not only for resources and territorial expansion but also for wisdom. Today, by “shoving off from land- and nation-based perspectives,” Hester Blum suggests, “we might find new critical locations from which to investigate questions of affiliation, citizenship, economic exchange, mobility, rights, and sovereignty.”[1] In that spirit, the University of Toronto’s Centre for Comparative Literature is pleased to invite you to ask: when our critical sensibilities are at sea and unmoored from methodological nationalism, what forms might our critical and aesthetic representations of the ocean and the seas take?

We invite proposals for individual or group presentations, performances, visual art, poetry and spoken word, and film that imagine, theorize or refer to the ocean and the seas without the commonplace trappings of nationality or land-based conquest. We also invite proposals for writing workshops, joint panels, and roundtable discussions, in which case participants should submit their proposals together.

Suggested topics include but are not limited to:

* Sustainability and the politics of consumption, the fishing industry
* Migration, refugees, and the right to mobility; displacement, diasporas
* Language contact, creolization, and translation
* Travel narratives and nostos myths, contact literature
* Literary representations of the sea, the poetics of the sea
* Trade and commerce, the transatlantic slave trade
* Pipelines and oil spills, access to clean water, environmental activism
* Island studies, tourism, capitalist exploitation
* Phenomenological accounts of the ocean
* Mermaids and monsters, sea mythology
* Indigenous creation stories, the role of the ocean in indigenous thought
* Gender and the ocean, queer love and bodies of water
* Oceanic agency, geontopower, water as sacred
* Exploration and colonization, race and the boundaries of the sea
* Hurricanes, tidal waves, natural disasters, climate change
* Piracy, marronage, extralegal communities, matelotage

Proposals should be a maximum of 250 words. Individual talks should be 15–20 minutes in duration and altogether, panels and roundtables should not exceed 90 minutes. Please include a biographical statement of no more than 50 words and submit your abstract by e-mail.

Contact details:
Replace [at] with the appropriate symbol in email addresses where applicable

Filed under: Call for Papers - Conferences

Last updated: 2 Oct 2017



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