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Introducing the Inaugural Postdoctoral Fellowship Lecture: ‘An Encrusting Ocean’

Join us to celebrate the SEI career of Dr Killian Quigley, one that has delved into the depths of the oceanic humanities and beyond.

Photo by Jovahn Fischer, via Shutterstock
Photo by Jovahn Fischer, via Shutterstock

The Sydney Environment Institute introduces its new Postdoctoral Fellowship Lecture that celebrates the contributions and careers of our Postdoctoral Research Fellows. The inaugural lecture will recognise the inquisitive and critical research of Killian Quigley, whose three and a half year presence at the Institute has left a remarkable legacy. Through his scholarship and his colleagueship, Killian has become an internationally recognised figure in the oceanic humanities, with his research spanning literary history to ecocriticism to aesthetic theory and delving deep into the environmental humanities.

Killian’s lecture, entitled, An Encrusting Ocean, extends a central strand of the seaward research he’s been conducting at SEI over the past three years. With projects like The Aesthetics of the Undersea, his work has questioned and dissected oceanic form, as observed and interpreted through the Western traditions that are his areas of expertise.

The presentation will focus on the notion of encrustation, a primary mode of being for many sea creatures, including barnacles, some sponges and corals, and countless others.

“Conventionally, encrustation connotes literal adornment and superficiality. These words describe formal relationships that are often compared unfavourably with others, such as rootedness, holism, and organicism.

In certain contexts, oceanic encrustation is rendered in explicitly negative, and even menacing, terms, as when marine organisms are said to foul the surfaces they inhabit.”

Through his talk, Killian will seek to understand how to better describe the distinctive formal habits of marine life, and of oceanic materiality more generally, in contrast with “terracentric” models in environmental poetics and aesthetics.

What are the distinct attributes of the poetics and aesthetics of marine encrustation? What do concepts like fouling tell us about how forms of life are observed, interpreted, and valued? How does an encrusting ocean challenge received understandings of place, artificiality, and exteriority?

Culminating years of research at the Sydney Environment Institute and influenced by works of his colleagues in the marine sciences, multispecies studies, and the blue humanities, this inaugural Postdoctoral Fellowship Lecture is one not to be missed as we bid farewell to a dear colleague and friend.

The lecture will be held on Tuesday 1 December 2020, 5.00 – 6.30pm via Zoom. 

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