American Studies Over_Seas


American Studies Over_Seas: Active Ties, Tides, and Times

Entitled American Studies Over_Seas: Active Ties, Tides, and Times, The University of Lisbon Center for English Studies (ULICES) is developing a project centered on coastal areas and intertidal zones, and on how they might be addressed through more hydro- and eco-centered perspectives on languages, arts, and literatures. We would like to contribute to the storytelling and the transformative articulation of some of the pressures and challenges  to  natural habitats  and  residential/working areas  that  result from climate change and anthropogenic activity. The project will also look at how these coasts have been shaped culturally and historically, particularly in what concerns Portuguese and North-American exchanges.

Part of this project, a symposium devoted to the (shared) coastlines of the Atlantic will be hosted at the School of Arts and Humanities of the University of Lisbon, November 7-9, 2024. We are mainly concerned with how we can combine knowledges and affections between the disciplines (ties) to imaginatively and more effectively bridge the temporal depth and urgency (times) of human environmental impact, and thus follow the traces and hopefully better track or change the tides of Portuguese and US coastlines and their insular clusters in the Atlantic (tides). This event will bring together scholars from different fields, as well as policy makers and activists working within affected coastal areas. Academically, the symposium will be structured around three lines of inquiry:

  1. “Memories of distant quays” within the triangular Atlantic – History of relations between US and Portuguese-speaking countries across the oceans / comparative  coastal  (and  insular/archipelagic)  developments  in  the  Atlantic: ex.  East Coast and Azores/Portugal, Caribbean Islands to US and Cape Verde to Portugal, Portuguese-speaking countries – Brazil-US;
  2. “The currents outbound” – diasporic transits with emphasis on luso- American experiences, storytelling and (eco)poetry of opposite and parallel shores; intersections with border studies and environmental justice; hybrid genres and (id)entity crossings;
  3. “More-than-human shores” coastal studies and the Humanities… or, more humbly, the “humusities” (Haraway 2015): challenge to the concept (and existence) of humanity/ies as seen from the shores and/or the edge of no return; the rising sea; nostalgia and anxiety of saltwater; environmental history

and stories of the shorelines, traces, inscriptions and entanglements of humans and other-than-humans; exposition, toxicity and occupation threats to traditional work / community cultures, and biodiversity; ports, docks, bays, dunes, isles, marshlands and global warming.

The ULICES’s project is also preparing an ecopoetic anthology Ten Sea Air / Dez Ar Mar Ten Portuguese-speaking and Ten English-speaking investigative poets writing about how to breathe and navigate the climate crisis.

In parallel with these activities, the Center is organising an ongoing interdisciplinary team-building activity: the reading circle. On 29 April, John Gillis’ book The Human Shore (University of Chicago Press, 2015) was discussed. The next meeting, on 1 July, will focus on Steve Mentz’s Introduction to the Blue Humanities (Routledge, 2023).


Posted in events.