"...BUT DROWNED THE INFINITE": READING MELVILLE'S MOBY-DICK IN THE WAKE OF CLIMATE CHANGE
Ryan Hereford, Ph.D.
September 6th, 2018/7-8:30pm/Free
San Francisco Maritime Research Center, Fort Mason Center BLDG E.
For many contemporary environmental writers and activists, the rising tides and acidifying waters of our world oceans have become productive symbols for generating ethically-engaged conversation in our current moment, referred to as "the Anthropocene," the proposed term for this geological epoch where human activity is now the primary force rendering irreversible impacts on global climate and conditions for life on earth. Yet, despite the proliferating images of melting ice and tidal takeovers, much of this current fascination with our rapidly-transforming seas has, thus far, been silent with regards to the ocean’s human histories. Reading through one of the most canonized texts in oceanic literature - Herman Melville's Moby-Dick, or the Whale - this talk will explore the relationship between Melville's representations of the ocean as an uninhabitable, threatening abyss, and his figurations of the ocean as a passageway for those seeking resources or refuge, fleeing violence or enduring it. Ultimately, this talk will suggest Moby-Dick as a necessary text for our own twenty-first century, allowing us to consider the inherent links between environmental and historical justice as we reimagine our planetary commitments to human and nonhuman communities.