On the Sea: Reading Notes

Vin Nardizzi, University of British Columbia

On 8 May 2020, Oecologies kicked off its year-long programming on “Sea.” Selected by Mo Pareles (UBC, English), our shared reading was Omise’eke Natasha Tinsley’s article “Black Atlantic, Queer Atlantic: Queer Imaginings of the Middle Passage,” which appeared in GLQ in 2008. Over 20 international Oe scholars and affiliates from across the Humanities disciplines gathered virtually. We discussed how Tinsley’s article turns an absence in the archives – records of queer experience among enslaved persons – into an opportunity to query what an archive is and, in the process, to reimagine the form of the scholarly article. Our Zoom chat ranged from topics as diverse as queer philology (a central methodological component of Tinsley’s analysis), speculation as critical method, scholarly genealogies (for instance, the implicit whiteness of some foundational queer theory), and the practicalities of pedagogy, including syllabus writing. 

The reading group will reconvene in October 2020 to discuss texts in the blue humanities by Helen M. Rozwadowski, Renisa Mawani, and Surabhi Ranganathan. These readings promise to shift our focus from the Atlantic waters to those of the Indian and Pacific Oceans by spotlighting legal disputes during the early modern period about the “free sea.” If you’re interested to chat about these exciting texts with us, then keep an eye out for further details on Oecologies’s social media feeds.

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