EASLCE Webinar: The Blue Humanities: Aquatic Materialisations Beyond the Sea

EASLCE Webinar

The Blue Humanities: Aquatic Materialisations Beyond the Sea

Time and Date: 1 December 2022, 10.30-12.00 (CET); Dr Ursula Kluwick, University of Bern, Switzerland

This seminar addresses shifts in perspective provoked by recent developments in the blue humanities. Interest in water began to emerge in the first decade of the 2000s, in the form of maritime or critical ocean studies. Key interventions in this field led to reconsiderations of the role of the sea and of how a focus on salt water might make visible connections and relations that differ from those apparent to a focus on land. Increasingly, however, scholars are taking this shift further – beyond the sea. In this seminar, we will first consider some of the principal consequences of adopting an aquatic instead of a primarily terrestrial outlook. In a second step, we will turn to the implications of thinking with water as a metamorphic substance that exists in different phases and shapes and that meets but is also a part of human bodies in more-than-liquid form. We will analyse how this transformability of water is represented in literary texts and how it influences the representation of the relationship between humans and the more-than-human world.

Participants are asked to please bring a cultural object (or photograph thereof) that they associate with or can somehow relate to the sea, the coast, or any other aquatic space or phenomenon. 

Key questions for discussion:

  • What are the implications of a shift from a green to a blue perspective?
  • What can representations of water as matter-in-transformation show us about human corporeality and identity?
  • How does aquatic agency challenge ideas about the relationship between humans and the more-than-human world, including in a historical perspective?
  • What are the aesthetics of aquatic materialisation?

Required Reading: 

Gillis, John R. “The Blue Humanities.” Humanities,vol. 34, no. 3 (May/June 2013), www.neh.gov.

Mentz, Steve. “Ice/Water/Vapor.” The Cambridge Companion to the Environmental Humanities, ed. Jeffrey Jerome Cohen and Stephanie Foote, Cambridge University Press, 2021, pp. 185-98.

Steinberg, Philip and Kimberley Peters. “Wet Ontologies, Fluid Spaces: Giving Depth to Volume through Oceanic Thinking.” Environment and Planning D: Society and Space, vol. 33 (2015), pp. 247-264. doi:10.1068/d14148p


Collins, The Woman in White. 1860. (second epoch, the story continued by Marian Halcombe, chapters IX and X)

Doyle, Arthur Conan. The Hound of the Baskervilles: Another Adventure of Sherlock Holmes. 1902. (chapter 14)

Further Reading:

Blum, Hester. “The Prospect of Oceanic Studies.” PMLA, vol. 125, no. 3 (May 2010), pp. 670-677.

Chen, Cecilia, Janine MacLeod, and Astrida G. Neimanis. “Introduction: Toward a Hydrological Turn?” Thinking with Water. Ed. Astrida G. Neimanis Cecilia Chen, and Janine MacLeod. McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2013. 3-22.

DeLoughrey, Elizabeth. “Submarine Futures of the Anthropocene.” Comparative Literature, vol. 69, no. 1 (2017), pp. 32-44.

Steinberg, Philip and Kimberley Peters. “The Ocean in Excess: Towards a More-than-Wet Ontology.” Dialogues in Human Geography, vol. 9, no. 3 (2019), pp. 293-307.


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Henrik Dønnestad

EASLCE Webinar: The Blue Humanities: Aquatic Materialisations Beyond the Sea



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