Call for Papers: Jack London and the Maritime Environment Panel at the 2018 Jack London Society Symposium

This panel seeks presentations that explore the broad conference theme of Jack London, the West, and the Environment as it relates to the maritime settings and themes of his writing. Proposals are welcome on any topic that brings together London’s treatment of the maritime environment (the sea, the coast, or the islands) with his interests in the craft of sailing and the romance of sail.

Like other key writers in the maritime literary tradition, London was an avid reader of maritime literature and a seasoned sailor. He sailed in San Francisco Bay in his youth as an oyster pirate and member of the California Fish Patrol, and as a young man on a sealing expedition, an adventure that provided raw material for his novel The Sea-Wolf. He voyaged to the South Seas on his 55-foot ketch, the Snark, for two years with a small crew and his wife Charmian. These adventures, along with his reading of sea fiction and travel narratives of exploration and discovery, informed his literary treatment of maritime cultures and environments.

Topics might include (but are not limited to):

  • London and other writers: his place in the maritime and environmental literary traditions.
  • London as influenced by maritime authors (Melville, Stevenson, Conrad, Kipling, and/or lesser known writers).
  • London as an influence on later 20th- or 21st-century maritime or environmental writers.
  • London’s romantic, realistic, naturalistic, or satiric treatment of sailors, the sea, indigenous peoples, islands, or seascapes.
  • London’s representation of real and imagined dangers posed by humans or nature.
  • London’s description of catastrophic or sudden effects of weather (gales or typhoons) or disease (leprosy, fever, yaws), or starvation.
  • London’s dramatization of war, headhunting, cannibalism, and acts of colonial violence vs. his depiction of the “slow violence” (Rob Nixon) of colonial practices on national/cultural groups and the environment.
  • London as reporter, tourist, naturalist, treasure-seeker, photographer, and collector.
  • London’s cultural sensitivity vs. his exotic or stereotypical representations of islanders or immigrants.
  • London as advocate for human rights and the environment, through critique of the dual exploitation of islanders and natural resources.
  • London’s naturalistic depiction of characters as “human beasts” on islands, ships, or at sea, with blurred lines between humans and animals, or humans and the environment.
  • London’s conventional vs. experimental treatment of gender and sexuality.

Paper proposals should include an abstract of 200-300 words (noting any audio/visual requests) and complete contact information. They can be emailed to Anita Duneer at aduneer@ric.edu.

Proposal Deadline: June 20, 2018

The 14th Biennial Jack London Society Symposium will be held at The University of Nevada, Las Vegas, October 11–14, 2018. The general focus of the symposium will be Jack London, the West, and the Environment, and the organizers also welcome papers and panel submissions on any aspect of Jack London’s life and work. Innovative formats such as roundtables or teaching presentations are encouraged, especially those that connect London with other writers and artists. Presenters and attendees must be members of the Jack London Society. Visit the Jack London Society Website for member registration and symposium updates: https://jacklondonsociety.org/