Appel à communication : « British Waters and Beyond: The cultural significance of the sea since 1800 »

Royal West of England Academy, Queen’s Road, Bristol, UK, May 12, 2014
Deadline: Dec 31, 2013

British Waters and Beyond: The cultural significance of the sea since 1800

Call for papers

Coinciding with a major exhibition – Power of the Sea (April 5 – July 6th) – the Royal West of England Academy is hosting an interdisciplinary one-day symposium in partnership with Oxford Brookes University and Leeds Metropolitan University.

Power of the Sea explores the aesthetic sensibilities of the sea, celebrating its qualities through observed, naturally occurring phenomena, as well as drawing upon the rich cultural legacy of narratives, metaphors and allegories with which it is associated. Work
by contemporary artists will be shown alongside that of 19th and 20thc century British painters (including Turner, Constable, John Brett and Paul Nash), a fertile period of artistic expression embracing Romanticism, naturalism and abstraction.

Since the beginning of the 19th century, the sea has been an important focus for painters and writers who relished the challenge of working directly from nature, often in inhospitable conditions. Some have made scientific studies of the movements of the waves; others have concentrated on the human costs of storms at sea, either in their
direct effects on the shipwrecked or in their impact on those left behind on shore. Such work has gained a new urgency in recent years with concerns about climate change and rising sea levels.

This symposium aims to expand on the themes of the exhibition encompassing the wider context of the seas around the British Isles. While the centre of gravity will remain the visual arts, and the arts of Britain in particular, we welcome papers that will consider the conceptualisation of the sea and the ocean from an interdisciplinary

This symposium seeks to create dialogue between practising artists, curators, writers, academics and students from disciplines including visual arts, cultural theory, geography, history and literature.

Proposals for papers are invited on the following broad themes but not  limited to these:
– The sea as metaphor and cradle for the imagination: cultural representations by artists, writers and musicians
– Maritime communities: past, present and future
– Gendering/sexing the sea
– From coast to coast: the sea as a place rather than a space; its power to link communities and to transform social relations
– Trade and empire: the politics of the sea, travel, migration, slavery and nomadism
– The science of the sea: renewable energy and climate change; ecology
and erosion

Proposals: 250 word abstracts for 20 minute papers, by December 31st 2013
Proposals should be emailed to

For further information please contact:
Joel Edwards, RWA Learning and Resources manager:

or Dr Robert Burroughs, School of Cultural Studies and Humanities, Leeds Metropolitan University:

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