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Historicizing the Ocean, c. 1500 - c. 1900
Greifswald, July 2000


Sea Changes:
Historicizing the Ocean, c. 1500 - c. 1900

An interdisciplinary conference
to be held at the University of Greifswald, Germany
20-23 July, 2000

The aim of this international conference is to explore material and
methodological sea changes in the cultural history of oceans, ships, and
mariners. Contemporary debates about globalization, transculturation,
transnationality, contact zones, the multiplicity and non-synchronicity of
cultures and histories invite us to regard the ocean as a historical
location whose transformative power is not merely psychological or
metaphorical. The sea, whether as the Black Atlantic, the quasi-arcadian
Pacific, or the mediterranean omphalos, has been the site of radical
changes in human lives and national histories. It has been crossed by
vessels of discovery, by immigrant ships, slave ships, pirates, merchant
ships, warships, and notorious pleasure steamers, many of which have left
their mark on the bottom of the sea but which - more importantly - have
decisively shaped human history. 

We invite papers that emphasize this transformative historical function of
ships, their crews and passengers, and of the ocean itself. We encourage
submissions from scholars of various disciplines (both 'before' and
'behind the mast') who seek to combine, in an interdisciplinary fashion,
various aspects of the general theme. Topics could include (but are by no
means limited to) the links (and / or contradictions) between the material
and metaphorical uses of ships and oceans; the sea as a historical site of
cultural confrontations and displacements, of different forms of travel,
of voyages of exploration and of colonial conquest; the representational
functions of ships and the sea in literature, culture, and science; the
cartography and cultural geography of maritime spaces; the diverse
communities of seafarers; etc. Despite the temporal boundaries expressed
in the conference title, themes may include 20th century historical
imagination in film and literature; and we are particularly interested in
papers that offer a gender-critical view of the subject matter (e.g. the
feminization of ships, homosociality on shipboard, female tars, etc.). 

The conference, jointly organized by the universities of Greifswald and
Dortmund, will be hosted by Greifswald. Located at the Baltic Sea near the
Polish border, this small and ancient Hanse town and former haunt of the
famous pirate Klaus Stoertebecker offers a fascinating maritime

Key note speakers will include Peter Hulme, Greg Dening, Marcus Rediker,
and Susan Bassnett. Proposals are welcome from anyone interested in the
topic, from established academics to research students. Please send
abstracts of no more than 300 words, by 30 September 1999, to either: 

Bernhard Klein
Institut für Anglistik und Amerikanistik
Fachbereich 15
Universität Dortmund
44221 Dortmund
Fax:   +49 (0231) 755 5450


Gesa Mackenthun
Institut für Anglistik / Amerikanistik
Universität Greifswald
Steinbecker Str. 15
17487 Greifswald
Fax:   +49 (03834) 863366