Oceans and deserts are phenomena in the natural world, but they also exist on a metaphorical level in concepts such as “cultural deserts” or “oceans of time.” These ideas draw on the characteristics of these environments, from the desert’s isolation, hostility to life, and strange beauty to the ocean’s currents, vast dimensions, and variety of life forms. Through an interdisciplinary lens, this year’s conference explores specifically oceans and deserts in the German-speaking world, both as spaces in the environment and concepts of thought. We are looking to discuss how a wide range of disciplines engages with oceans and deserts as places and metaphors in German-speaking contexts. We invite papers from all disciplines engaging with German-related notions of oceans and/or deserts. The conference language will be English.
How does the environment affect culture, and how does culture in turn affect the environment? Over the past four years, the collaboration of multiple fields and approaches has provided substantial contributions. Building on discussions inspired by previous conferences, the conference will address the ontology of oceans and deserts, as well as the semiotics which surround them: How do oceans and deserts figure in the human imagination across time, from their representations in art and literature to popular culture? How have actual and symbolic oceans and deserts shaped human and nonhuman lives, and vice versa? How do ideas of oceans and deserts relate to historical and contemporary political crises and currents? Do oceans and deserts carry particular religious or ethical weight? How do policies affect oceans and deserts, both in the private and the public spheres?
Support provided by Confluencenter for Creative Inquiry and the Graduate Professional Student Council.