Skip to main content

GRiT 2: Maurya Wickstrom - "The Whale and the Waters: Toward Oceanic Epistemologies in Performance"

Venue: Online

The Whale and the Waters is the provisional title of a new book project in which Wickstrom is concerned to set Homer’s The Odyssey, Caribbean poet and playwright Derek Walcott’s epic poem Omeros (Homer), his play The Odyssey, and Herman Melville’s Moby-Dick into archipelagic relation as oceanic texts connecting slavery, inter-species relation, and alternative (watery) epistemologies. Moby Dick, as the foundation of the project, is an unequaled text for contemporary work in the oceanic, an expansive field in which Wickstrom has been working for the past several years. The 1851 whaling epic yields profound insights into the intersections between race, Indigeneity, Blackness, the materiality of the ocean and the life in it, queerness, the disintegration of Enlightenment ways of knowing/seeing and being, and marine global proletariat labor. The work currently also builds on performances by Bill T. Jones and Mayfield Brooks and Wu Tsang’s film, Moby Dick, along with theoretical interlocuters. Wickstrom will share some of her current thoughts and questions about this project and speak about the process of developing it.

Contact name:

  • Maurya Wickstrom -

    Maurya Wickstrom is Professor of Theatre in the Ph.D. program in Theatre and Performance at the Graduate Center, and in the Performing and Creative Arts Department at the College of Staten Island, both part of the City University of New York. She is the author of three monographs, the most recent of which is Fiery Temporalities in Theatre and Performance: The Initiation of History (2018) and numerous essays in a range of journals. Her publication to date on watery matters is “Wet Ontology, Moby-Dick, and the Oceanic in Performance” (Theatre Journal 2019). She is also a director and, as noted in this essay directed and adapted Orson Welles’ stage adaptation of Moby Dick with her undergraduate students in 2018. She has taught courses on the oceanic and performance at the Graduate Center/CUNY and in the Yale School of Drama Dramaturgy Department.