Melville’s Worlds Symposium

Friday, October 12, 2018

9:00am - 5:30pm

Department of English Wetmore Fund for Literature and the Humanities Initiative Programming Fund

Pembroke Hall

Room 305

“Give me Vesuvius’ crater for an inkstand!” Ishmael’s imagining of what he needs to write Moby Dick testifies to the largeness of scale of Melville’s work, which crosses oceans, spans centuries, invents genres, and imagines new forms of life. “Melville’s Worlds” responds to this largeness of scale, exploring his work across a variety of discourses and disciplines: legal, political, ecological, sociological, and aesthetic. Speakers will consider why Melville has become the writer for our time, a time dominated by catastrophic climate change, political instability, new material forms, and a renewed interest in the possibilities of the aesthetic.

Melville’s Worlds, Program


8:30 am - 9:00 am:  Breakfast


9:00 am:  Welcome and Opening Remarks

            Stuart Burrows, Brown University 


9:15 am - 10:45 am:  Written Worlds

            Monique Allewaert, University of Wisconsin-Madison

               “Melville’s Milieux”

            Philip Gould, Brown University

               “Melville, Lyric, and Reconstruction”

            Chair:  Eleanor Rowe, Brown University


11:00 am - 12:30 pm:  Worlds Apart

            Hester Blum, Pennsylvania State University

               “Archipelagic Melville”

            Stuart Burrows, Brown University

               “The Languages of Benito Cereno”

            Chair:  Dashiell Wasserman, Brown University


12:30 pm - 2:00 pm:  Lunch


2:00 pm - 3:30 pm:  Material Worlds

            Branka Arsic, Columbia University

               “Coral Psyches:  Melville’s Material Minds” 

            Paul Downes, University of Toronto

               “Moby Dick’s Political Ecology”

            Chair:  Dorin Smith, Brown University


3:30 pm - 4:00 pm:  Tea 


4:00 pm - 5:30 pm:  Worlds Within and Without

            Jennifer Fleissner, Indiana University

               “Melville and the Problem of the Will”

            Deak Nabers, Brown University

             “Bartleby and Labor Law”

            Chair:  Michael Gastiger, Brown University


 5:30 pm - 6:30 pm:  Reception