logo irtg
 Version française  |  Search
|  Imprint  |  Contact   |

Dr. Lena Schneider

Dr. Lena Schneider
A Sea Change: Contemporary Anglophone and Hispanic Literature and the Dissolution of the Sea/Land Border
(Start-up Project)

Ever since Paul Gilroy, above all in his seminal study The Black Atlantic (1993), and other scholars have explored the transatlantic slave trade, Atlantic Ocean figures have become an
integral part of colonial and postcolonial studies. Even though authors have concentrated on the connections and transactions which oceans enable, for instance of people, goods and ideas, as
exemplified by Édouard Glissant's notion of "archipelagic thinking" (1997), Gísli Pálsson's "global but polarized network of power-relations" (1991) or Walter Mignolo's "Atlantic commercial circuit" (2002), the imaginary and materiality of the sea have been overlooked, giving rise to Hester Blum's comment that "The sea is not a metaphor" (2010). One prevalent reason for a lack of critical engagement with the sea as material body is that the border between sea and land prevails and frames much of the theorizing of the ocean, as "Western constructions of the 'nature' of the sea—contrasted to the grounded 'culture' of land" remain dominant (Helmreich 2011). Yet, several contemporary novels by female authors such as Jane Urquhart's Away (1993), Eden Robinson’s Monkey Beach (2000), Nalo Hopkinson's The New Moon's
Arms (2007) as well as Isabel Allende’s La Isla Bajo el Mar (2009) do not only portray the sea and liminal maritime figures, but they also ascribe a materiality to the sea and its creatures which many traditional representations lack.

Drawing on the work of both transnational and Atlantic literary studies while taking a decidedly comparative approach, this postdoctoral project seeks to analyse imaginaries and
materialities of the sea and water in contemporary Anglophone and Hispanic literatures. It specifically aims at scrutinising contemporary authors' aesthetic challenges to the essentialised
and essentialising division between the land and the sea. As a result, my project will be concerned with exploring the crossing as well as the intertwining of a variety of borders in literary representations: first, geographical or topographical borders; second, temporal divisions; third, symbolic, yet material corporeal limits; fourth, epistemological borders between human and quasi-human characters, and, finally, narratological, textual and aesthetic boundaries. Accordingly, this project intends to unravel some of the common themes that the above-mentioned authors' novels, among others, raise in regard to the ocean, the sea and 'sea people,' addressing the question of where contemporary Anglophone and Hispanic literature can be situated within a wider oceanic and transnational paradigm.
Logo Universität Trier Logo Université Montréal Logo Universität des Saarlandes