Elemental Readings II: The Poetics of Water

When and Where

Friday, October 04, 2024 12:00 pm to Saturday, October 05, 2024 12:00 pm


Stacy Alaimo (English and Environmental Studies, University of Oregon)
Craig Santos Perez (English, University of Hawaii)


Elemental Readings II: The Poetics of Water
October 4-5, 2024
Organized by Profs. Victoria Wohl (Classics) and James Cahill (Cinema Studies)

About the Conference
“Elemental Readings II: The Poetics of Water,” a two-day conference at the University of Toronto on October 4–5, 2024, will bring together a diverse slate of internationally-renowned and early-career scholars to investigate the representation of water across media, fields, and periods. As Herman Melville wrote, “meditation and water are wedded forever” (Moby Dick, 4). Across historical and geographical contexts, water has been a contested source of wealth and power; a metaphor and medium of artistic creation; a model for new modes of inquiry. It is also the subject of urgent discussions about environmental crisis and ecological justice, not least among Indigenous and other communities disproportionately affected by climate change. Inspired by and contributing to the emerging field of Blue Humanities and its epistemological centring of water, this conference approaches water from multiple perspectives and ways of knowing, disciplinary and methodological, examining its diverse affordances for thought. Participants include media theorists, scholars of literature and art (ancient and modern), religion and critical theory, cultural geographers, and poets. From their different disciplinary viewpoints, our participants ask how a “poetics” of water – the ways in which it has been imagined and represented, instrumentalized to practical or political ends – has contributed to our current ecological crisis and whether it might help us to formulate solutions and alternatives. 

Confirmed Participants
Nadine Chan (Cinema Studies, UofT), Lauren Cramer (Cinema Studies, UofT), Martin Devecka (Literature, UC Santa Cruz), Constance de Font-Reaulx (History, U of T), Susan Hill (History & Indigenous Studies, UofT), Brooke Holmes (Classics, Princeton), Louise Hornby (English, UCLA), Justin Hosbey (College of Environmental Design, UC Berkeley), Melody Jue (English, UC Santa Barbara), Pamela Klassen (Study of Religion, UofT), Verity Platt (Classics & Art History, Cornell), Alex Purves (Classics, UCLA), J.T. Roane (Geography, Rutgers), J.-T. Tremblay (Environmental Humanities, York), Nancy Worman (Classics, Barnard)

Keynote addresses will be delivered by Stacy Alaimo (English and Environmental Studies, University of Oregon) and Craig Santos Perez (English, University of Hawaii). The conference will be preceded on the evening of October 3 by a public reception and the screening of films by local film-makers examining the political possibilities of aquatic aesthetics. 

Contact Information


Cinema Studies Institute, Department of Classics