CFP on Aquatic Visions in Art, Science and Literature

<strong>Underwater Worlds: Aquatic Visions in Art, Science and Literature</strong>

A conference at the <strong>Oxford Research Centre in the Humanities (TORCH)</strong>, University of Oxford, 15-16 September 2015. <a href=""></a>

‘How can I retrace the impression left upon me by that walk under the waters? Words are impotent to relate such wonders!’

– Jules Verne, <em>Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea</em>


<strong>With keynotes by:</strong>

<a href="">Professor John Mack</a> (University of East Anglia), author of <em>The Sea: A Cultural History</em> (2011).

<a href="">Professor Christiana Payne</a> (Oxford Brookes University), author of <em>Where the Sea Meets the Land: Artists on the Coast in Nineteenth Century Britain</em> (1998) and<em> The Power of the Sea: Making Waves in British Art 1790-2014</em> (with Janette Kerr, 2014).

<a href="">Professor Bernhard Klein</a> (University of Kent), author of <em>Fictions of the Sea: Critical Perspectives on the Ocean in British Literature and Culture</em> (2002) and <em>Sea Changes: Historicizing the Ocean</em> (with Gesa Mackenthun, 2004).

<a href="">Dr Gunda Windmüller</a> (University of Bonn), author of <em>Rushing Into Floods: Staging the Sea in Restoration and Early Eighteenth-Century English Drama</em> (2012).

What lies beneath the surface of the water? From sirens and sea monsters to shipwrecks and the drowned city of Atlantis, the unseen depths of oceans, lakes and rivers have formed the canvas for countless imaginative visions and stories. Different cultures have envisioned underwater environments as supernatural forces to be feared, resources to exploit, aesthetic pleasures to be enjoyed and fragile ecosystems to be protected. In the twenty-first century, the on-going endangerment of marine life by human causes such as climate change, overfishing, oil spills and mineral extraction compels us to re-evaluate our relationship with the aquatic world. At the same time, in recent years, rising sea levels, floods and tsunamis have demonstrated in dramatic fashion the vulnerability of our species to changes in the Earth's water distribution.

In light of these issues, ‘Underwater Worlds’ will examine how humans past and present have represented and imaginatively constructed aquatic environments through art, literature and other cultural forms. Critical debates about the anthropocene and its sustainability have sparked new interest in representations of nature and humans’ relationships with it. Yet, as Dan Brayton notes in <em>Shakespeare’s Ocean </em>(2012), the majority of ecocriticism has been ‘green’, centred on dry land, neglecting the ‘blue planet’ which covers most of the Earth. At the same time, research into representations of rivers and seas has often focussed on the surfaces traversed by humans rather than the invisible spaces beneath. This conference aims to probe beneath the surface, exploring how underwater environments have been imagined, idealized, feared and elided.

Themes for papers might include (but need not be limited to):

Representing underwater worlds in narratives, images and objects Reconstructing underwater worlds in museums and aquariums Sea life and sea monsters Technologies of underwater exploration Histories of marine studies and oceanography Collecting, classifying and exhibiting aquatic specimens Sailing and Shipwrecks Swimming and diving Fishing, trawling, dredging and panning Aquatic themes in religion Water surface and depth as psychoanalytic symbols Themes of flooding and submergence in art and literature Underwater film

Please send your 250-word paper abstract to <a href=""></a> <strong>no later than the 30th of April 2015</strong>. General inquiries may be made to the conference organiser Dr Will Abberley at <a href=""></a>. See also the conference web site <a href=""></a>.