Call for Papers

The call for papers has now closed.

In Katherine Mansfield’s 1912 short story ‘How Pearl Button Was Kidnapped’, a young girl sees the ocean for the first time. Terrified by the sight of this ‘big piece of blue water […] creeping over the land’ she asks: ‘Will it hurt us – is it coming?’ The response she is given is that ‘no, it doesn’t come to us. It stays in its place’.

The sea, we now realise, does not remain ‘in its place’. This environmental humanities conference seeks to examine the shifting relations between bodies of water and human activity across a range of disciplines. It brings researchers together from across the globe to examine the cultural, historical, and political aspects of human and nonhuman interactions with the world’s waters.

First used in 1882 to describe the spread of the sea over land, this conference adopts the term ‘marine transgressions’ to encompass both the ways in which rising sea levels threaten to radically reshape the planet as we know it, as well as how our material engagement with rivers, lakes, seas, and other liquid spaces can foster new modes of understanding about ourselves and the world around us.

We welcome proposals for twenty-minute papers from scholars, particularly PGRs, across the arts and humanities, as well as creative presentations/installations from practitioners in the arts, literature and digital media. Papers are invited on, but not limited to, any of the following topics:

  • Aquatic environments
  • Floods, storms and other meteorological events
  • Hybrid entanglements of human and marine organisms
  • Shifting understandings of the ocean over time (e.g. continental drift)
  • Methods of mapping, recording and representing bodies of water
  • Visualising and encountering waters in new ways with the aid of technology
  • Ecofeminism, activism and water
  • Posthumanist theories: trans-corporeality, hydro-feminism and watery bodies
  • Tides, boundaries and liminal spaces
  • Water as a transgressive agent or form of resistance
  • Marine life forms and nonhuman modes of experience
  • Water as metaphor in literature and psychoanalysis
  • Literary imaginings of deep seas
  • Explorations of swimming, diving, deep-sea exploration, and other forms of human amphibiousness
  • Melting waters
  • Hydropower and sustainability
  • Water in relation to gender, race, and/or queer identity
  • Water and climate change
  • Threatened, polluted, and disappearing waters; altered water chemistries
  • Military and capitalist interventions in water – submarine warfare, deep sea cables and ocean-floor mining
  • Contested waters, international politics, and the sea as a site of colonial violence and oppression

Please send your proposals (max 350 words) along with a brief biography to: by Wednesday 31st January 2018.

Organisers: Rachel Murray (Bristol) and Nancy Jones (Bath Spa).