Coral psyches: Melville's material minds Event as iCalendar
(English, Drama and Writing Studies, School of Humanities)
21 March 2017
3 - 5pm
Venue: Pat Hanan Room, Arts 2 Building (207-501)
Professor Branka Arsić | Columbia University
Starting with Melville's early preoccupation with the science of corals - coral insects, formation of coral atolls, geology of coral reefs - I investigate how he extended those ideas, from Mardi to Billy Budd, into a coral ontology that served as the basis for his understanding of the psyche. I claim that a cluster of human and non-human beings in Melville's world is summoned to embody coral minds, and propose that the strangeness of those minds derives both from their being material and from their being ambiental. The major concern of my talk is the ethical consequences of persons imagined as malleable and porous coral life.