Event: The University of Birmingham’s Nineteenth-Century Centre’s (19CC) Online Work-in-Progress Seminar Series

Please join us online at 5pm on Wednesday 18th January for a work-in-progress seminar focused on literature at sea. Our two speakers will explore questions of migration, belonging, and rootedness as they examine the flora and fauna of the deep. This session will be of particular interest to anyone working in literature and ecology, oceanic studies, and the environmental humanities. Titles and abstracts are below; to join the session simply follow the link. Attendees will be placed in a waiting room and admitted just before the start of the session; they’ll be muted on entry.

Topic: 19CC Work-in-Progress Seminar

Time: Jan 18, 2023, 5:00 PM London

Join Zoom Meeting


Meeting ID: 828 4425 0608

Passcode: 317166

Michael Malay (University of Bristol), ‘Rooted cosmopolitans?: Eels and the question of home’

Eels are wayfarers: in order to reach Europe from the Sargasso Sea, they travel no less than 3,000 miles. At the same time, they are lovers of place: when eels reach ‘home ground’ — it could be an estuary, river, lake, ditch or pond — many remain there for most of their adult lives. Where, then, do eels ‘belong’ — are they fish of the ocean or creatures of freshwater? In this paper, I explore the relationship between dislocation and rootedness in relation to the eel. Along the way, I also engage with political questions around migration, citizenship and belonging.

Jimmy Packham (University of Birmingham), ‘Melville & the oozy weeds’

The article-in-progress explores the role of seaweed in Herman Melville’s writing, with a particular focus on its presence in his poetry, paratexts, and mss. I am especially interested in those moments where Melville imagines humans as a kind of seaweed, and the ways in which he uses the drifting nature of plants like gulf-weed (sargassum) as a means of imagining forms of community that are not rooted, but predicated on generative forms of drift and dislocation.


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