Aesthetics of Contamination: Oceanic Environments, Identities, Intermedial Research-Creation

deadline for submissions: 
August 31, 2023
full name / name of organization: 
Dr. Nancy Pedri
contact email: 

The Aesthetics of Contamination: Oceanic Environments, Identities, Intermedial Research-Creation


Memorial University of Newfoundland and Labrador, 27-29 Oct, 2023



Deadline for Submissions: 31 August, 2023



In close collaboration with the University of Grenoble Alpes, Memorial University in Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada, is organizing an international conference on October 27-29, 2023, on the oceanic environment with a focus on research creation and scholarship.

This three-day international conference seeks to examine the aesthetics of contamination through a blue ecocritical lens to explore how the ocean has shaped cultural identities and histories, as well as speculative futures in the face of the global refugee crisis, colonialism, climate crisis, and devastating effects of resource extraction. This conference also aims to enact the linkages between the study of literature, art, and other media and artistic practice as they intersect with blue ecocritical concerns and methods of research. It will look to intermodal practices, scholarship, and research-creation and across disciplines – oceanic literature, visual art, performative art, dance, theory, and criticism – to address the urgent need to examine and curb human impact on our oceanic environments.


The conference is organized around three thematic threads:


1)      Oceanic Environments: An Ecocritical Perspective.


Environmental movements today have stemmed from earlier Romantic representations of Nature, as argued by L. Buell in The Environmental Imagination. Current ecocritical concerns originate in the problematic relationship of humans with their environment. Critics across disciplines are engaging with blue ecocriticism to examine environmental issues from an oceanic or aquatic stance (Dobrin; Blackmore and Gómez; Cohen and Quigley; Wardi). Through a focus on oceanic environments, we aim to address how an aesthetics of contamination can shed light on current aquatic realities, including offshore oil production, aquaculture, pollution by plastics and other invasive substances, and environmental threats to biodiversity.


2)      Cultural Identities: A Cultural Perspective.


Throughout the current global refugee crisis, shaped by movement and migration, whether forced or voluntary, and exacerbated by climate crisis, some of those representations continue to fuel racism and other exclusionary practices. P. Spiro argues that the very existence of nation-based identities has been unsettled by the emergence of a globalized world that transcends borders (2007). Our conference will consider how climate disasters perpetuated by the global north through resource extraction and other colonialist practices across oceans impact the movement and health of people, including indigenous communities who are uniquely impacted by the colonialization of waters. We aim to highlight how identities are formed in relation to the ocean as a social and economic influence on culture, as well as the convergence of climate-crisis activism and anti-racism.


3)      Artistic Contaminations: An Artistic Perspective.


Recent academic work shows that genres and media have porous boundaries. J. Baetens argues that novelization is “a good example of the indirect contamination of one media regime by another” (45). Experimentally and artistically motivated research-creation works are particularly porous and, as N. Loveless explains, are well positioned to foster social activism through engaged reflection. By taking the contamination of waters as our theme and exploring it through intermediality, we join Loveless, who sees research-creation as “a site of generative recrafting” (3). Our aim is to promote more “pedagogically, politically, and affectively sustainable” (Loveless 3) models of knowledge creation and mobilization.


We invite scholars and art practitioners working from a wide range of disciplines, perspectives, and research practices to propose papers or panels on topics that intersect with these three threads.


Deadline for abstracts (250 words) and short bio (100 words): 31 August, 2023.



Abstracts and bios are to be sent to