Table Topic: “Oceanic Images and Imaginations”
Table hosts Hannah Baader and Hester Blum will discuss at their table the theme of “Oceanic Images and Imaginations”, find their statement here:
What new forms of understanding does an oceanic imagination make possible? Although modern academic disciplines have generally organized themselves around units of analysis such as time periods, nations, data sets, or human societies, an oceanic orientation urges researchers instead to embrace the undulating, nonhuman, non-planar depths of the sea as a model for critical expansiveness. Oceanic forms of relation do not obey to the signposts or lines of demarcation presumed by territorial spaces; hydrographic modes of analysis understand the planet as contingent, solvent, and motile. An oceanic imagination might ask what alternate modes of expression and knowledge projects emerge if we loose our critical anchors and turn instead the figurative immensities and nonhuman depths of the sea. This table invites conversations about oceanic images and fluid methodologies from a wide range of approaches and objects of study.
Hannah Baader is Permanent Senior Research Scholar at the Kunsthistorisches Institut in Florenz, Max-Planck-Institut and Academic Program Director of the research and fellowship program Art Histories and Aesthetic Practices at Forum Transregional Studies, Berlin. After studying art history, law and philosophy in Berlin and Vienna, she obtained her doctorate at the Freie Universität Berlin. She worked at the Bibliotheca Hertziana in Rome and at the KHI in Florence, was Head of a Max-Planck Research Group and obtained mayor grants from the Getty Foundation and the Gerda-Henkel Foundation. She was Research Scholar of the Getty Research Institute, Los Angeles (2014 and 2016) and was invited as Visiting Professor at the University of Heidelberg, Cluster of Excellence “Asia and Europe in a Global Context”. She is the co-editor of Das Meer, der Tausch und die Grenzen der Repräsentation, Zürich: Diaphanes 2011 as well as Littoral and Liminal Spaces. The Early Modern Mediterranean and Beyond, ed. with Gerhard Wolf, Mitteilungen des Kunsthistorischen Instituts Florenz 66 (1), 2014. Currently she is finishing a book on the Iconology of the Sea in Early Modernity. Further research and publications focus on Art and Ecology, ed. with Sugata Ray and Gerhard Wolf (New York: De Gruyter) 2019.
Hester Blum is an associate professor in the English department at Penn State University, where she teaches courses in nineteenth-century U.S. literature and culture. Her scholarship focuses on oceanic studies, book history and material text studies, Herman Melville, and the environmental humanities. Her first book, The View from the Mast-Head: Maritime Imagination and Antebellum American Sea Narratives (University of North Carolina Press, 2008), received the John Gardner Maritime Research Award. She edited a special issue of Atlantic Studies on “Oceanic Studies” and a volume of essays entitled Turns of Event: American Literary Studies in Motion (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2016). Her new book, The News at the Ends of the Earth: The Print Culture of Polar Exploration, is forthcoming from Duke University Press in 2019.