Melville, Conrad, and Life

deadline for submissions: 
March 15, 2023
full name / name of organization: 
Joseph Conrad Society of America and the Melville Society
contact email: 

Both Melville and Conrad appeal to the concept of life allied with their artistic activities. Moby Dick is pervaded by appeals to the appeal to life, as in the description of a whale skeleton become a chapel:  "Life folded Death; Death trellised Life; the grim god wived with youthful Life, and begat him curly-headed glories." Conrad, too describes the action of art in fruitful tension with the kinetics of life, as when in his 1897 preface, he connects art with seizing a fragment "from the remorseless rush of time, a passing phase of life." But how exactly do these writers understand and see their relation to "life" -- vegetative, human, physical, spiritual, ethical? This panel invites papers that consider metaphysical, aesthetic, ethical, linguistic, biological, or cultural approaches to the concept of life, including its potential tragi-comic polarities, in Melville and/or Conrad. How do these authors use the concept to challenge ethical or cultural assumptions, or to innovate and animate their own art? Send 250 word proposals to Mark Deggan <> & Meredith Farmer <farmerma@wfu.ed> by March 15, 2023.