Water logics

international conference

Tulane university

April 11-12, 2019

convened by

Edwige tamalet talbayev (Tulane university) 

yasser elhariry (Dartmouth college)


All events free and open to the public

 Thursday, April 11, 2019


08.30- 09.15  Breakfast and registration

09.15-10.00   Welcome and opening remarks

                      Ben Depp, "Bayou's End"


10.00-12.00   Edges/Borders/Thresholds

1.   “Experimental Archipelagoes: Representing Islands as Zones of Exception”

Charles Rice-Davis, Victoria University Wellington

2.   “Oil and Water: The Afterlives of Waste in Death-Bound Seas”

Supriya Nair, University of Michigan

3. “Oceanic memory in Michaël Ferrier’s Mémoires d’outre mer”

Martin Munro, Florida State University

4. “Corals, Coolitude, and Khal Torabully’s poetry”

Shanaaz Mohammed, Davidson College    


12.00-13.30     Lunch

13.30- 15.30 Material Liquidities/Epistemologies/Waves


1. “The Oceanic turn in the Humanities”

Gaurav Desai, University of Michigan

2. “Between the terrestrial and the deep blue sea: the interstitial logic of infra-maritimity”

David Alvarez, Grand Valley State University

3. “‘forever folding and unfolding’: the critical depths of David Gascoyne’s poetics”

Isabelle Keller-Privat, Université Toulouse-Jean Jaurès

4. “The wave as an epistemological challenge today”

Nathalie Roelens, University of Luxembourg


15.30-16.00     Coffee


16.00-18.00     Plenary Session (sponsored by the New Orleans Center for the Gulf South)

Philip Steinberg, Durham University

“De-bordering the Ocean: Reflections on Alterity and Materiality from Melville to James to Gilroy” 


Responses by Dean Brian T. Edwards, Department of English, and Rebecca Snedeker, New Orleans Center for the Gulf South


18.00               Reception


Friday, April 12, 2019


09.30- 10.00     Breakfast


10.00-12.00     Circulation/ Flows/Cycles

1. “The Oceanic Turn in Early Modernity: Voyage Narratives and the Global Renaissance”

Daniel Vitkus, University of California, San Diego

2.  “From the mountains to the sea? The water cycle as a diagram of power and debt in Morocco”

Matthew Brauer, Northwestern University

3.  “‘Sea logics’ in Transnational Contexts: Refugeeism and Migritude in Ananda Devi’s Ceux du large and Shumona Sinha’s Assommons les pauvres”

Brinda J. Mehta, Mills College

4.  “Liquid materiality and language”

Aaron Pinnix, Fordham University

12.00-13.30     Lunch


13.30-15.30     Comparisons/Linkages/Connectivities

  1.  “Watershed cities - 19th c. New Orleans and Odessa as imperial borders and maritime centers”

Olivia Durand, University of Oxford

2.  “'The Children of whose Turbaned Seas:' The Black Sea in the Historical Memory of Circassians”

Lidia Zhigunova, Tulane University


3.  “Other Seas: Remapping the Adriatic in the Archipelago of Italy’s ‘Lost Territories’”

Pamela Ballinger, University of Michigan


4.  “The Sahara and the Mediterranean: A Burnt Sea and a Sea to Burn”

Hakim Abderrezak, University of Minnesota


15.30-16.00     Coffee


16.00-18.00    Navigating Metaphors: Material and Imaginary Waters on Page and Screen

                       (In partnership with the “Bodies of Water” Research Cluster, University of Bristol)

1.   “Piracy, Homeland, and the Oceans”

Laurence Publicover, University of Bristol

2.   “L’homme veut être eau courante, or Towards a French Romantic Hydrocommons”

Bradley Stephens, University of Bristol

3.   “Chilean Cartography or Pacific Poetics? Identity, Fluidity, and Affect in Contemporary Chilean Visual Culture”

Paul Merchant, University of Bristol


18.00               Closing reception






Taking its critical cue from New Orleans’s unique liminal position on the Gulf Coast, Water logics starts from the shoreline as a threshold, as a point of departure away from land. Beyond the shore, where land meets water, how can water and bodies of water be conceived? To what forms of thought, art, literature, or politics do they give shape? The Gulf Coast’s porosity blurs the very notion of the shore as a cartographic threshold point: the land emerges from water and yet is immersed in water, infiltrated by it. In the wake of storms, resurgent floodwaters coat much of the land, eroding its structure. Taking the space of the sea as a point of inquiry, this conference rethinks the aqueous both within and beyond its contiguity with landed logics. It approaches the spatial component intrinsic to considerations of the watery in its complex relationship to the multifold transitions and translations afforded by the sea’s liquidity. Through a comparative approach to waterscapes from oceans to seas to waterways and embayments, we will address the following question: what kinds of aesthetics, transnationalism, knowledge transfer, and translational practices specific to the sea can we devise once diverging, geographically disparate oceanic sites of knowledge production are brought into contact?

Looming increasingly larger over our disciplinary constructs, seascapes have slowly come to complement academic taxonomies rooted in the fragmented, exclusive terrains of national literatures, teleological narratives, and other land-bound theoretical constructs. Drawing from characterizations of the aqueous as a “site of intellection” and “imaginative projection” (Wigen 2007), this conference seeks to foster cultural, archeological, historical, literary, and philosophical inquiries into the production, performance, and dissemination of knowledge across maritime spaces: the Caribbean Sea of our conference locale, but also the circum-Atlantic world, the Pacific Ocean, the Mediterranean, and the Black Sea in their interrelations. With an eye towards the “material condition and praxis of the maritime world” (Blum 2010), we call for a reorientation of practical methodologies towards a comparative geophilosophy of watery spaces beyond dominant transit tropes (the sea as an expanse to be traversed or bridged in a series of physical, metaphorical, and historical transitions).

With the generous support of

carol Lavin Bernick faculty grant program

Kathryn b. gore chair in french

department of French and italian

new orleans center for the gulf south 

school of liberal arts


Race room, lavin-bernick center 201

29 mcalister drive

new orleans, la 70118


Campus map (building 29)/interactive map