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Aesthetics of Contamination

Oceanic Environments, Identities, Intermedial Research Creation
Memorial University, St. John's, NL
October 27-29, 2023
The Conference

About The Conference

Two Days of Powerful Talks
October 27-29, 2023
09:00 am

In close collaboration with the University of Grenoble Alpes, Memorial University in Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada, is organizing an international conference on October 27-29, 2023, on the aesthetics of contamination. This conference aims to enact the linkages between the study of literature, art, and other media and artistic practice as they intersect with blue ecocritical concerns and methods of research. It will look to intermodal practices, scholarship, and research-creation and across disciplines – oceanic literature, visual art, performative art, dance, theory, and criticism – to address the urgent need to examine and curb human impact on our oceanic environments.


Aimed towards an exchange between research and creative practices, the conference is organized around three discursive threads: The Oceanic Environment: An Ecocritical Perspective; Cultural Identities: A Cultural Perspective; and Intermedial Research Creation: An Artistic Perspective.


The first two conference threads will address the aesthetics of contamination as it relates to oceanic environments across different media and disciplines. The first thread, will focus on pressing oceanic environmental threats – oil production, aquaculture, pollution by plastics and other invasive substances, and environmental threats to biodiviersity – to explore how these threats are communicated and how they can be curbed. These discussions will give way to the conference’s second thread, which considers how climate disasters across oceans impact the movement and health of people. It will highlight the convergence of climate, oceanic, and human crises to recognize how it impacts the social and economic realities of people across the globe.


The third thread, will bring the conference’s findings about oceanic contamination and its impact on people into creative-critical, collaborative dialogue through a research-creation project. Aimed at exploring the intersectionality of diverse modes of knowledge practice that share creative and scholarly influences, this thread aims to bring together creative writing, visual art, music, dance, and other art practices to underscore the urgency and magnitude of oceanic contamination and the importance of aesthetic practices to foster real world change.

Organizing Team

                                                                                                                                      Associate Professor Lisa Moore

                                                                                                                          Memorial University of Newfoundland


                                                                                                                                                  Photo credits: Ned Pratt

Dr. Nancy Pedri 

Memorial University of Newfoundland



                                                                                                                                                        Dr. André Dodeman

                                                                                                                               Université Grenoble-Alpes (France)


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Keynote Speakers

Dr. Sourayan Mookerjea

Dr. Sourayan Mookerjea is the Director of the Intermedia Research Studio and Kule Scholar of Climate Resilience, University of Alberta. His research areas include Commons Theory, Decolonizing Critical Theory, Intermedia Research Creation, and Development Dispossesion. Dr. Mookerjea studies energy transition that takes into consideration multiple colonialisms. His work explores a just, democratic shift from petrocultures to renewable energy that acknowledges those most vulnerable, as we face the crisis that is constituted by all contemporary global crises today - the climate crisis. Dr. Mookerjea's explores intermedial approaches to scholarship, literature, poetry, fiction, installation art, sociology, feminism, and critical race theory. Dr. Mookerjea obtained a PhD from the Graduate Programme in Social & Political Thought at York University Toronto, (Canada), an M.A. from the Department of Linguistics, University of Toronto, (Canada), and a B.A. from the Department of English, University of Toronto (Canada).

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Abstract: On the Geopolitics of Contamination: Research-Creation Notes for a Degrowth Aesthetic

Mookerjea's talk draws upon subsistence perspective ecofeminist degrowth theory, world-ecology and intermedia theory in order to provide a critical overview of how the impact of proliferating ecological crisis can be better understood in terms of the accumulated violence of interlocking oppressions, multiple colonialisms and ecologically unequal exchange characteristic of the longue durée of racial capitalism. Examining examples of environmental racism and environmental injustice in Canada, India and the global South, this lecture outlines the importances of feminist, anti-racist, eco-socialist and degrowth politics for advancing renewable energy system change and for delinking from our contemporary, crisis-prone global political economy. Drawing on recent research-creation interventions from the Speculative Energy Futures collaborative research project, the talk concludes with a consideration of the twin roles of speculative and regenerative molecular intermedia for inhabiting conjunctural contradictions and for organizing enduring subsistence political ecologies.

Dr. Claire Omhovère

Dr. Claire Omhovère is the Director of the Intermedial Cultural Geography Research Group at the University of Montpellier. Conducting research in the growing field of environmental humanities, she explores the intersection between literature, rhetoric, and the environment. A central question runs through her research: How can the arts and humanities disciplines can advance the understanding of space, landscape, and the environment? She is also interested in the aesthetic and ethical dimensions of landscape writing in settler-invader colonies, including Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. After completing a B.A. and M.A. in English at the University Lumièe (Lyon, France), she earned a PhD at the University of Bourgogne (France) and completed a postdoctoral research project at the University Paris 3 - Sorbonne Nouvelle.

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Abstract: 'Declarations of Interdependence.' Aesthetic Responses to Contamination in Contemporary Canadian Literature and Art

Omhovère's contribution starts from the question that opens Adam Dickinson's 2018 collection of poems Anatomic: How does the outside inscribe the inside? The COVID-19 pandemic hastened the realization that the human activities responsible for the spectacular effects of global warning also has invisible repercussions on viruses and bacteria forced out of their natural habitats to colonize new territories, including human organisms. Sounding the alert against contamination and its corollary, pollution, public discourse frequently falls back on a warlike rhetoric spouting defense mechanisms and immunity protocols galore. The works Omhovère intends to discuss opt for a different course, a diplomacy that foregrounds interdependancies and makes it possible to query the limitations of Anthropocene narratives. She will be pursuing this line of investigation relying on the philosophical essays of Allen Carlson, Aesthetics and the Environment (2000), Michel Serres, Malfeasance: Appropriation through Pollution (2010), Anna Lowenhaupt Tsing's concept of "feral ecologies" (2021).

Learn more here:


Dr. Gretchen Schiller

Dr. Gretchen Schiller, Director and Principal Researcher at the Interdisciplinary Performance Laboratory, Université of Grenoble-Aples. She is a principal investigator at the Performance Laboratory - an IDEX label project that brings together academics from the fields of geography, performing arts and computer science over a period of 3.5 years. Her choreographic research focuses on the notion of embodied agentivity through participatory installations, "screen dances," performances, workshops, and critical writing. She obtained her B.A. in Dance and Francophone Canadian Studies from the University of Calgary (Canada), her M.A. in Choreography from UCLA (United States), and her PhD from the Science, Technology and Art Research Program at the University of Plymouth (United Kingdom). She was also a student in the Visual Arts Department at MIT Cambridge (United States).

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Abstract: Choreographic Contamination

There are so many ways gestures migrate across material forms. From the hand to the written page, from the eye to a film, or from a gut sensation to a piece of music, movement qualities bleed and breathe across and through artistic forms. As a choreographer, Schiller approaches the term "contamination" in the context of this conference without its pejorative colouration. In this way, we find ourselves close to what transpires with physical gestures as they migrate across material artistic forms. Often the haptic, the kinesthetic and the choreographic are hidden in arts works where the body is no longer recognizable. But when we touch the pages of writing in novels, listen to compositions, or haptically look at films that integrate physical "contaminants", I argue that we "enter into contact with" bodily traces.

Keynote Speaker


Megan Elizabeth Boothby

M. E. Boothby (she/they) is a PhD candidate in Memorial’s English Department, where she writes both academically and creatively about apocalyptic fungi, sentient cephalopods, monstrous children, and more-than-human material communication. Her research explores queer, neuroqueer, and ecocritical intersections in speculative fiction. She has been published in Horseshoe Literary Magazine, untethered magazine, and Gothic Nature. Her debut novel, Holistic Ecology for Hopeless Planets, is represented by CookeMcDermid. Her article “Weirdos Together: Neuroqueer Mentorship and Validation in Disney’s The Owl House” is forthcoming in the anthology Embodying the Fantastic.

Fiona Polack

Fiona Polack (she/her) is an Associate Professor in Memorial’s English Department, and Academic Editor at Memorial University Press. She teaches and researches in the fields of energy and environmental humanities, critical ocean and island studies, and settler colonial studies. She currently leads the SSHRC Insight project "Oil Rigs and Islands," which considers shifting forms of placemaking in the offshore world, and recently co-edited Cold Water Oil: Imagining Offshore Petroleum Cultures for Routledge's Environment and Sustainability series. Her edited volume Tracing Ochre: Changing Perspectives on the Beothuk was published by University of Toronto Press in 2018.

Abstract: Contact with Deep Time: Fungal, Temporal, and Spatial Contaminations in The Rig

Amazon Prime’s six-part television series The Rig (2023) exploits the narrative possibilities afforded by its fictional North Sea setting. The Kinloch Bravo is a claustrophobic space dependent on the fragile lifelines of supply ships and radio communication to connect it to the onshore world. When these links are abruptly severed, its crew are vulnerable to attacks by an ancient sporous “ancestor” of undefined, vaguely fungal origin, avenging the ecological damage wreaked by the oil industry, and yet also attempting to sound a warning, through its contaminated hosts, of an imminent extinction-level event.

Harry Pitt Scott (2020) argues that noir mysteries are “the genre” of petroleum extraction at sea. The Rig certainly relies on the generic expectations of mysteries/thrillers, with the ancestor’s existence and intentions only gradually being divulged. However, the television series’ use of horror tropes like untraceable contagion and involuntary physical transformation could have it labelled ecohorror; its isolated setting and the return of repressed deep time suggest the ecoGothic; and the awakening of ancient, sentient life at the bottom of the sea skews almost Lovecraftian, into the oceanic Weird.

At the nexus of these generic interactions, The Rig plays with a multitiered contamination, as the fungal ancestor alters human bodies, cleansing “unnatural” bodily augmentations such as tattoos and fillings, and provides human minds with a new temporal awareness of the ecological world. The Kinloch Bravo, with its dizzying dynamics of height and depth, is positioned as the only possible contact point between the deep time of the ancestor and the fraught present: the ancestor was only awakened because of oil extraction.

The Rig is not ecocritically interesting for its rather obvious eco-revenge plot. We instead make the case that, perhaps despite itself, the series contributes to the growing awareness that monsters, particularly figured as entanglements of “bodies with other bodies, times with other times,” (Tsing M7) are key to collaborative, more-than-human futures.

Agnese Martini

Agnese Martini is a master's student in Environmental Humanities at Ca’Foscari University of Venice. She has a bachelor’s in philosophy and spent a semester as an exchange student at the University of Technology of Sydney. She is working on her master's thesis, an ecocritical analysis of fishermen’s environmental narratives in the Venice Lagoon. Her paper Anthropogenic Monsters: A CAS and Liberating Perspective on the Contemporary Production of Human and Nonhuman Monsters will be published in a forthcoming anthology of Critical Animal Studies. She was selected as a speaker in national and international conferences in Ecocriticism and Critical Animal Studies. 

Abstract: Feral Algae and Alien Invaders in the Venice Lagoon

This paper embarks on an ecocritical analysis of the narratives of local fishermen of the Venice Lagoon, Italy, with the aim of tracing the knots of monstrosity in their descriptions and perceptions of algae and alien invasive species.

First, starting from stories of algae, I will explore how the algal world, often perceived as monstrous due to its unfamiliarity, elicits feelings of irritation and annoyance among fishermen, since vegetal agency and life cycles elude easily human understanding and sense of control. As the narratives of fishermen unfold, another layer of monstrosity – rooted in contamination, toxicity, and death – takes shape: these “sticky” and “hairy” entities challenge established narratives of dominance and purity (Latour).

Then, I will explore narratives about the Blue Crab, an alien invasive species of the North Adriatic Sea depicted as a monstrous threat to local biodiversity. Ethical considerations surface when questioning which lives are deemed worthy of protection and which are regarded as alien and hence “killable” (Haraway). These monstrous creatures challenge established dichotomies such as native/non-native and natural/unnatural.

By critically analyzing the narratives of fishermen in their engagement with monstrosity, I will delve into the complex and unpredictable entanglements between human and non-human entities in the Venice Lagoon. The monstrous figures within these tales disturb our assumptions, disrupt our hierarchies, and challenge us to reimagine our relationship with the non-human world.

Simon Prahl

Simon Prahl is a student assistant at the Institute for German Literature and its Didactics and at the Institute for Romance Languages and their Literatures at the chair of Prof. Dr. Christine Ott, Goethe University Frankfurt am Main. He is studying to become a teacher for the subjects French, German and Italian at the Goethe University Frankfurt am Main. He gives seminars in the context of tutorials within Modern German Literature. His research interests are mainly the reception of Arthur Rimbaud in German literature, cultural and literary animal studies and pop literature.

Abstract: Oceanic Dystopia in Laura Pugno's Sirene

Mermaids, climate catastrophes and posthumanism. These three thematic axes intertwine in an inner-textual conglomeration of an oceanic dystopia in Laura Pugno’s novel Sirene. In Sirene, the story is told of humanity who, since a new disease, have to live in under-ground cities to escape the deadly rays of the sun on the surface of the earth. In order to continue to feed themselves sufficiently, mermaids are bred to serve as slaughter animals and prostitutes. As a parallel strand, Laura Pugno's Sirene further thematises a love affair between a human and a mermaid that ends with the birth of a transhuman being between human and water creature. Obsessive metaphors and posthuman landscapes are ulti-mately used to caricature reality; nevertheless, to draw attention to the fact that the clima-tic situation of planet Earth must be taken seriously. This lecture is dedicated to two focal points: First, the general fascination with water creatures such as mermaids, sirens and nymphs will be illustrated as an introduction, and in the next step, using a dystopian rea-ding, the book Sirene by Laura Pugno will be placed in the context of human pollution and its environmentally harmful consequences. The aim of the lecture is to illustrate the posthumanist-dystopian approach of Sirene on the side of literary studies in order to ge-nerate a level extension to real references of the current climate crisis.

Ben Berman Ghan

Ben Berman Ghan is a writer and editor from Toronto, Canada, whose prose and poetry have been published in Clarkesworld Magazine, Strange Horizons, The Blasted Tree Publishing Co., The Temz Review and others, and he is the author of the novel The Years Shall Run Like Rabbits, coming spring 2024 with Wolsak & Wynn, as well as the collection What We See in the Smoke (Crowsnest books 2019). He now lives and writes in Calgary, Alberta, where he is a Ph.D. student in English literature at The University of Calgary. You can find him at


Abstract: Seeking Gentler Ends

Deep space finds a colossal jellyfish hybridized from a Moon Jelly and a Pacific Sea Nettle in a strange future, drifting in orbit around a pale star. On the back of this animal forms a colossal city, where humans and more than human companions seem to coexist peacefully as a single ecosystem. But when Zee, a pedicab driver in the inner city, gives a ride to a member of the government who has transformed themselves into a vast and monstrous crab, it sparks an obsession with change, and this seemingly harmonious system begins to unravel. Here, the bodies of oceanic life, with many different modes of thinking and being, become the focal of Donna Haraway’s idea of a Figure, that symbolic being “at the same time creatures of imagined possibility and creatures of fierce and ordinary reality” (When Species Meet 4), Allowing this narrative to focus on and celebrate the variance of and the intermingling between human and more-than-human lives. This research-creation aims to move from what might be considered a transhumanist future, where the spectres of capitalism speciesism are slowly but inevitably displaced by that dream of the motley crowd. This narrative of transformation must take place both within the culture of the city and within Zee’s own body as the city moves towards a state of cooperation. For the purposes of this conference, the project will be presented as a brief sample of both the opening pages as well as an exegesis.

Obasanjo Joseph Oyedele

Obasanjo Joseph Oyedele is a doctoral student in the Department of Sociology, Memorial University of Newfoundland. He had some years of experience as a lecturer and researcher in three universities in Nigeria before coming to Canada. His research interests are in environment, climate change, social movement, media, and international development. He also participated as a research assistant to two lead researchers in Nigeria and was commissioned as a researcher on the feasibility of climate change goals and pledges made by Nigeria during the 2021 climate change conference in Glasgow (COP26). He has some journal articles and chapters in books published by Sage, Taylor and Francis, Springer, and other notable publishers around the world.

Mark C.J. Stoddart

Mark C.J. Stoddart is a Professor in the Department of Sociology, Memorial University, with research interests in environmental sustainability, social movements, and communications and culture. Prof. Stoddart is an incoming member of the class of 2023 Royal Society of Canada College. He is co-author of the book, Industrial Development and Eco-Tourism: Can Oil Extraction and Nature Conservation Co-Exist? (Palgrave). Through a comparative analysis of Denmark, Iceland, Newfoundland and Labrador, Norway, and Scotland, this project offers valuable lessons for how coastal societies can better navigate relationships between resource extraction and nature-based tourism. His work appears in a range of international journals, including Energy Research & Social Science, Ecology & Society, Environmental Communication, and Society & Natural Resources. He is co-editor of the Handbook of Anti-Environmentalism (Elgar), and Associate Editor of the journal Environmental Sociology.

Abstract: A Socio-Cultural Perspective on Oceans and Oil in Nigeria's Niger Delta

Critical conversations on state-backed capitalist extractivism and its tensions with the cultural and economic survival of coastal communities – which depend on brackish and freshwater aquaculture and small-holder farming – have been persistent since the discovery of oil in Nigeria. However, recently there has been a new turn in Nigeria’s fraught relationship between oil extraction and the fisheries and farming cultures of coastal communities. The national government has been burning illegal oil vessels in the waters of the Niger Delta as a strategy for mitigating illegal oil theft and protecting national interest in ensuring a safe operating environment for the oil sector. We provide a discourse analysis of newspaper articles on illegal oil theft and the sinking and/or burning of oil vessels in the Niger Delta to showcase the neglect of marine ecosystems where national interests and cultural identities collide with regional/communal interests and national identities. In this presentation, we approach these controversies through Widener’s (2018) conceptual distinction between maritime zones of privilege – such as highly valued ocean environments or Marine Protected Areas – and maritme sacrifice zone that are subject to resource over-exploitation. This conceptual framework helps us better understand the history of environmental activism for the cultural, environmental, and economic survival of Nigerian coastal communities against state-led, capitalist extractivism that treat nearby oceanic environments as maritime sacrifice zones.

Orazio Gnerre

Orazio Gnerre graduated in Political Science and International Relations, and in European and International Politics at the Catholic University of the Sacred Heart of Milan. Author of various essays and articles. 

Abstract: Caging the Ocean: Talassocracy, SLOC and Environmental Pollution

The German jurist and political scientist Carl Schmitt, in two of his main works, dealt with the ocean from an elemental point of view. The aquatic nature of this large
expanse of space irrefutably conditions the relationship it can have with the human being, and the way in which it can be furrowed. The geometries of power that derive
from this geographical-political dimension allow, according to the author, only certain forms of use of this space by human beings. The sea would therefore have become for Schmitt the privileged space of the world economy of exploitation, to which various symbolic images full of evocativeness are connected (from pirates to Leviathan). This leads us to reflect on two contemporary phenomena, apparently distant, but held together by certain mechanics of economic subsumption, value extraction and organization of spaces and resources: the proliferation of sea lines of communication for commercial purposes, and marine pollution. We will evaluate the latter from an ecological-political perspective which finds the fundamental link with the other evaluations contained in this speech.

Abourahmane Diouf

Abourahmane Diouf is affiliated with Le Mans University, France. He teaches American literature, literary theory and the link between aesthetics, politics and ethics. His research, which draws on psychoanalysis, ethics, linguistics, and anthropology, is centered on the notions of political identity and otherness in modern and contemporary American literature, and the way in which modernism, political engagement and ecology play a paramount role in the present society. He has published numerous articles on these matters, both in French and in English, among which articles on Steinbeck’s novels: “La révolution comme forme de rêve et d’évolution dans la fiction de Steinbeck”, 7 au 9 Juin, 2018, Nanterre, 58ème Congrès de la SAES “Revelution”. His other publication: Materialism and Inhumanity in John Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath and The Pearl, Ucad, Dakar, MemoireOnline, 2008.

Abstract: Depicting the Complex Relationship Between Man and the Ocean in John Steinbeck's The Grapes of Wrath

This article offers an analysis of the environmental reflections present in the works of John Steinbeck, with a particular focus on his iconic novel, The Grapes of Wrath. In this novel, Steinbeck depicts the economic crisis of the 1930s and its impact on farmers deprived of their lands. We delve into how the author highlights the degradation of agriculture and the destruction of natural ecosystems, caused by overproduction and intensive farming practices. The emphasis on the issue of climate disasters resulting from resource extraction and colonial practices reflects Steinbeck's sensitivity to social inequalities and the consequences of human activity on the environment. His work, especially in The Grapes of Wrath, frequently sheds light on the devastating effects of exploiting natural resources on marginalized communities and the ensuing social consequences. He also underscores the social and economic implications of this crisis, including growing inequalities and the forced migration of families to the West. We also explore how Steinbeck underscores the concept of ecological responsibility in humans. Through his characters and their interactions with nature, the author calls for an awareness of the consequences of our actions on the environment and the necessity to preserve natural resources for future generations. This study highlights John Steinbeck's ecological commitment in his literary work, emphasizing his attention to environmental issues and his advocacy for a harmonious coexistence between humans and nature. His exploration of ecological problems remains relevant today, reminding us of the significance of sustainability and the protection of our environment.

Jen Doyle

Jen Doyle is an interdisciplinary educator, artist, and academic. She currently teaches at UPEI. Her research is primarily in Environmental Communication and Cultural Theory, exploring what we are as humans in and of the environment and the generative potential of criticism as a creative process for exploring artefacts/texts and co-creating modes of inquiry and meaning-making that contribute to solving wicked problems. Currently, Jen is interested in exploring issues related to climate and culture in island contexts.

Abstract: A Blue Lens on a Grey Ocean

A generative way to reframe human relations with the environment is via Element Focused Inquiry (EFI). EFI traces human-elemental becoming via elemental influence on thought, action, body, and narrative. I’ve developed this model for curatorial, cumulative inquiry and explored it in Cormac McCarthy’s The Road, tracing water as the central character in the novel and what contaminated water is in human-elemental entanglements. Everything is water-bound in The Road. The story follows a man and his son moving towards the ocean in a post-apocalyptic world, and their path is dictated throughout by water. The complex relationships between humans, water, and the weather are at the heart of this grey world. As Marita Sturken notes in Desiring the Weather, “Weather has long been understood as the primary symptom of nature, the way that nature speaks to its occupants” (163), and nature, in The Road, speaks in a way that is increasingly unclear and impossible to discern. What happens when this communication breaks down? When there is no longer a shared language? Centralizing contaminated water offers opportunities to engage with imagined disaster to highlight the edges of what we can foresee and water’s influence on everything from basic survival to utterance and social cohesion. The path forward in The Road is towards the ocean and a potential elsewhere, simultaneously complicating and reinforcing that there is nowhere else to be.

Katarzyna Trzeciak

Katarzyna Trzeciak is an Assistant Professor at the Chair of Contemporary Criticism, at Jagiellonian University in Krakow (Poland). Her interests include literary theory, literary criticism, and contemporary aesthetics. She specializes in modern literature and culture. Her current project focuses on discourses and narratives of plastic in local (Polish), and global contexts. 

Abstract: Flows of Toxic Content: Forms of Plastic Contaminations in Some Recent Poetic Practices
Craig Carson

Craig Carson Ph.D., is Honors College Associate Dean and author of the book, The Aesthetics of Democracy (Palgrave, 2017), as well as many other articles and translations.

Abstract: Oceanic Contagion: Grotius, Natural Law and the Specter of the East Indies

In Mare Liberum, Hugo Grotius claims the Dutch East India Company (VOC) had a legal right to access the Indian Ocean spice trade because oceans are inherently ᾰ̓όρῐστον (i.e. without limit), and therefore irreducible to political or technological control.  Influenced by the “New Thalassology,” my project foregrounds the conflict between the human law of territorial possession and the inhuman natural law of the ocean at the heart of Grotius’ work: it is a natural law theory at odds with itself, positing two irreconcilable notions of nature.


This natural law framework, consequently, situates two competing notions of sovereignty: the theory of sovereign possession in the indigenous, Islamic sultanates of Johor, Aceh, Banten, Ambon, among others, and the “contagion” of the limitless ocean which brings each sovereign into a state of war at the shoreline, a legal gray zone that the Grotius and the VOC will exploit to justify “private” warfare (i.e., corporate rather than national violence).  Consequently, Grotius’ natural law theory, written at the request of the VOC to justify its “privateering” against the Portuguese, both substantiates and undercuts the history of European violence against peoples and environments.  In this light, how might Grotius’ complex notion of nature be relevant for rethinking human-environmental relationships in the age of climate change? 

Damilare Ogunmekan

Damilare Ogunmekan is a PhD student at faculty of MAP, university of Regina, Canada. He holds a Master’s degree in Theatre Arts from the department of the creative arts, University of Lagos, Lagos state Nigeria and a B.A. (Hons) degree in Performing Arts from the University of Ilorin, Ilorin, Nigeria. Apart from being a Filmmaker, his areas of research include theatre directing, playwriting, dramatic criticism and eco-theatre.

Abstract: Depicting the Complex Relationship Between Man and the Ocean in John Steinbeck's The Grapes of Wrath

Ever since the industrial revolution in the 19th century, the earth has been battling and continued to suffer the effects of climate change. The wars and industrial activities coupled with other human actions and behaviours such as bush burning, deforestation, overgrazing, poaching, indiscriminate waste disposal among other contaminants of the ecosystem have all been proximate premises to ecological degradation. From automobile emissions to the mostly disregarded cigarette smoking, and other anthropogenic behaviours, greenhouse gasses have been continuously released into the atmosphere and has resulted into the depletion of the ozone layer which has further precipitated global warming. This has since become a global issue. Researchers in the field of ecology and other environmental scientists have proffered various panaceas to this ecological menace. However, cognizance has not been paid to indigenous methods of mitigating climate crisis. Indigenous methodologies may be more engaging and importantly, more involving and participatory. For example, African indigenous festivals are some of these indigenous methods of combating climate crisis. Africans are naturally biocentric and ecological consciousness is deeply rooted in their cultures and traditions, such as living with trees and venerating them, cohabiting with animals, totemism, etc. This explains the reason there are various traditional festivals which give ample room for eco-performativity. Although it has been found that, while Africa as a continent contribute insignificantly to greenhouse gasses, the continent bears the brunt the most. In the light of these shocking realities and need for urgent response, this paper brings to the fore the possibility of African indigenous festival models in tackling climate change. Hinged upon Stern et al.’s Value-Belief-Norm theory, this paper examines the indigenous festival pattern of Argungu festival of the Kebbi people of Nigeria as viable for resuscitating the ecosystem. While it is found that certain African indigenous festivals promote biocentric behaviours, this paper concludes that, internationalising the Argungu indigenous festival pattern will help in the development of eco-friendly behaviours and further engender pro-ecological agency.

Paul Snelgrove

Dr. Snelgrove is a Professor of Ocean Sciences and Biology at Memorial University of Newfoundland in Canada. From 2008-2021 he led the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) Canadian Healthy Oceans Network, a national research network that has developed new tools and approaches to support sustainable oceans. He also currently plays the role of Associate Scientific Director of The Ocean Frontier Institute, which gathers researchers in Atlantic Canada and beyond to advance safe and sustainable ocean objectives. From 2003-2013, Dr. Snelgrove held a Canada Research Chair in Boreal and Cold Ocean Systems, and prior to that an NSERC Industrial Chair in Fisheries Conservation. He led the synthesis of the International Census of Marine Life research program, where he was a member of the program’s Scientific Steering Committee. Over 350,000 people have viewed his TED Global talk on that program. He frequently participates in workshops and conferences around the world as an invited speaker. In 2013, he was awarded the Timothy Parsons Medal for Excellence in Marine Sciences in Canada, and in 2020 he was appointed Departmental Science Advisor to Fisheries and Oceans Canada.  He has published ~150 journal articles, 30 book chapters and 2 books on his research on sustainability of biodiversity and functioning of seafloor ecosystems in all three of Canada’s oceans.

Charlie Mather

Charlie Mather (he/him) is professor of geography at Memorial University. His recent research - funded by an Ocean Frontier Institute Large Research Project - has focused on the bio-politics of salmon aquaculture in Atlantic Canada and beyond. His contribution to this conference on the aesthetics of contamination draws on his and his students’ published and ongoing work on farmed salmon escapes from industrial aquaculture facilities, widely acknowledged as a serious environmental problem for wild fish and broader ocean ecosystems.

Barbara Neis
Abstract: Science, Technology and Art for a Changing Ocean

Barbara Neis (Ph.D., C.M., F.R.S.C.) is John Lewis Paton Distinguished University Professor and Honorary Research Professor in the Department of Sociology, Memorial University. Professor Neis' research explores interactions between work, environment, health and communities in marine and coastal contexts. Since the 1990s, she has engaged with collaborative research in the areas of fishermen’s knowledge, science and management; occupational health and safety; rebuilding collapsed fisheries; gender and fisheries and extended mobility for work. She is currently working in collaboration with artists within the Ocean Frontier Institute-funded Future Ocean and Coastal Infrastructures project to explore ways the arts can provide critical infrastructure for future ocean and coastal resilience.

The ways in which societies interact with the ocean have changed dramatically, as we increasingly recognize the diverse needs of stakeholders, the dual challenges of sustainable resource extraction and sustainable coastal communities. Simultaneously, we must grapple with the effects of anthropogenic global environmental change at multiple spatial, temporal, and organizational scales. This panel discussion will offer insights from transdisciplinary research from the Ocean Frontier Institute related to tools, insights, and infrastructure with the potential to help us address these challenges. Snelgrove will discuss emerging natural science tools used to address issues prioritized by coastal communities in wild fisheries. Mather will address the complex considerations of enclosure within salmon aquaculture and their broader implications for social license. Neis will explore how artists and the arts are critical infrastructure for past, present and future resilience of coastal communities. Collectively, this panel will highlight ways that scientific tools, insights from science and technology studies, and the creative artistry and experiences of Newfoundland’s coastal people can help make ocean change accessible and relatable, and inspire action in support of future generations.  

Sue Goyette
Abstract: The Ocean is in the Original Mood Ring: Poetry Reading Exploring Living with the Ocean

Sue Goyette lives in K'jipuktuk (Halifax) and has published nine books of poems and a novel. Her latest collection is Monoculture is published by Gaspereau Press. She is the editor of Resistance: Righteous Rage in the Age of #MeToo (University of Regina Press, 2021) and The Best Canadian Poetry in English 2013 (Tightrope Books, 2013). Sue teaches in the Creative Writing Program at Dalhousie University and co-facilitates Write Your Heart Out, an afterschool writing workshop for young writers. She is the current Poet Laureate for HRM.

The poems in Ocean (Gaspereau Press, 2013) explore the relational aspect of living in proximity with the Atlantic and how making sense of it as a source of wildness, wonder, and violence can be understood and articulated using an imaginative methodology that transforms research into creative engagement. This collection is situated on the ocean’s shore and is speaking in and with a community that shares the experience of living with its grand and intense unknowability. The work asks of its reader/listener to activate an imaginative way of being that harmonizes and colludes with the same intense (and wondrous) unknowability of the Atlantic.
The work is also situated now, in the ongoing loss of the ocean as we know it. While the poems explore this relationship using an imaginative sense of wonder and dread, they also reflect on the singular loss of the ocean in all of its splendour that the climate emergency is making clear. These poems are thinking along with the grief and the relational complexity that is becoming apparent as our planet endures this crisis by attempting to come as close as poems can to the deeply unspeakable aspects of grief this environmental crisis is manifesting.


Colleen Foster
Abstract: Ocean and Female Narrative in Our Wives Under The Sea and A Tale for the Time Being

Colleen Foster holds an MA in English Literature and a BA with Distinction in English Literature and Italian Studies, both from Western University, as well as a PGCert with Honours in Creative Book Publishing from Humber College. She recently presented papers at the Carleton University English Graduate Students Society Conference in Ottawa and the Popular Culture Association (PCA/ACA) National Conference in San Antonio, Texas. Colleen’s primary research interests are American Literature and the alternate realities of Emily Dickinson. 

Off the coast of British Columbia, Ruth (protagonist of Ruth Ozeki’s A Tale for the Time Being) discovers a freezer-bagged journal, assuming it is “a dying sea jelly” until she realizes it is “something plastic, a bag”—“[n]ot surprising” as “[t]he ocean [is] full of plastic” (8). Ruth attributes its arrival to the combined factors of the 2011 Tōhoku tsunami, ocean gyres, and a lucky escape from the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. Her temporary ownership of the journal elevates it from trash to treasure. 


Julia Armfield’s Our Wives Under the Sea also features a woman’s journal contending with the ocean’s unpredictability. Protagonist Leah arrives home before her written record of her time on a catastrophic deep-sea research expedition. Her attempts to cope with her experience unnerve her wife, Miri, as she runs the faucets in their home to the extent that their “quarterly water bill is in the region of twelve times above average” (115).


Both novels set women’s narratives adrift—sometimes literally—amid environmental issues of water waste, pollution, and contamination. Though inextricably involved in the fate of each woman’s story, the ocean is neither benevolent nor malevolent, escaping the duality of “wildest nature” and “place of salvation” Sidney Dobrin recognizes in Blue Ecocriticism and the Oceanic Imperative (1). Inspired by Jenny Odell’s statement that “there [is] nothing stable about this ‘body’ of water,” this paper will examine the ocean as the medium that surrounds, separates, and provokes possessive instincts that ultimately overflow boundaries between women and ocean (150).

Valentine Porcile

Valentine Porcile is a doctoral student at Nantes University in France. She completely a B.A. and M.A. in English Literature at Nantes University. She was also a student at Boston University, MA, where she received a Graduate Certificate in Arts Management. Her research, which falls within the scope of the environmental humanities, focuses on the relationship between literature and the environment, exploring the many critical, aesthetic and ecological issues that are raised in contemporary literary texts. Her doctoral thesis, which is conducted in the field of the blue humanities, seeks to pursue this line of thinking whilst revolving around oceanic literature and arguing for what Steve Mentz defines as “water-centric thinking.”

Abstract: Tentacular Thinking: Oceanic Contamination and Interconnectedness in Contemporary Anglophone Fiction

In Blue Ecocriticism and the Oceanic Imperative, Professor Sidney I. Dobrin advocates for oceanic awareness, delineating avenues to redress ecocriticism’s preeminently land-based focus by probing the representations of the ocean and its beings, humans’ knowledge of and interactions with the latter. Drawing on a blue ecocritical approach that foregrounds fluidity, inclusiveness, and porosity, as well as the agency of the many bodies of water we may encounter in literary works, this talk seeks to discuss fictional works that thoroughly engage with water. These contemporary works, though never wavering from addressing today’s multiplying and rampant ecological crises (oceanic pollution, biodiversity loss, water scarcity…) or capturing communities fractured by the exploitative logics of white-dominated capitalist society, nonetheless attempt to cast the notions of ‘pollution’ and ‘contamination’ in a more positive light, hinting at the possibility of abundance and restoration through the nurturance of a relational world predicated upon kinship and mutuality. In these works, for instance, nonhuman animals are key instigators of change and awaken human bodies and minds through transformative encounters. Such inferences resound with Eva Hayward’s concept of ‘fingeryeyes,’ which will inform this discussion, as well as the works of Astrida Neimanis and Stacy Alaimo.

Christine Lorre

Christine Lorre is a Senior Lecturer in English at Sorbonne Nouvelle University in Paris. Her research focuses on postcolonial literature, particularly Canadian and New Zealand; the genre of the short story; gender; and environmental humanities. Her most recent publication is “What’s in a Name? Gayatri Spivak’s Concept of “Worlding”: De-Scribing, Re-Inscribing, Re-Worlding,” in Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak: Politics of Reading and Writing / Vers de nouveaux imaginaires critiques, ed. Mireille Calle-Gruber and Sarah-Anaïs Crevier Goulet (Paris: Hermann, 2023).  She is the current President of the SEPC (French Society for Postcolonial Studies) and of EACLALS (European Association for Commonwealth Literature and Language Studies).

Abstract: The Contamination of Plastic Pollution: Art and Awareness

Although plastic pollution has been around for decades, awareness of its scale is relatively recent, with a gradual replacement of the notion of pollution, linked to the physical nuisance that plastic represents, by that of contamination, referring to the omnipresence of microplastics in the environment and in living beings. The scientific study and mediatisation of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, after the oceanographer Charles Moore first drew alert to it in 1997, marks a turning point in this process. While Roland Barthes’s statement that “More than a substance, plastic is the very idea of its own infinite transformation” sounded optimistic when published in his Mythologies in 1957, plastic is now seen as a threat, and a material hurtful to all living beings, including humans.

If science offers tangible elements to measure the scale and impact of plastic pollution and can help establishing policies, arts are an equally important field of human activity in this case: they are crucial to express feelings, to develop solidarities that contribute to change, to adjust our sensitivity to the risks that plastic represents and raise our awareness of why it is important to reduce its production. This paper will review a range of artistic works from three main cultural areas – India, Africa, and the Pacific – that feel particularly exposed to the consequences of the global issue of plastic use. It will underline the links between plastic contamination and regulation, or lack thereof, to shed light on the role art can play in implementing change in our relationship to plastic.

Rona Rangsch

Rona Rangsch (she/her) is a multidisciplinary artist and interdisciplinary researcher originally from Germany with a background in physics. Leaving familiar grounds intellectually and/or physically allows her to transcend cultural and contextual boundaries and view her surroundings with ever fresh eyes. This is why roaming foreign places and life-long learning are key elements of her practice.

Rona has been awarded numerous international project awards and residency grants. Besides exhibiting her own work internationally, she has co-curated the exhibition program at Künstlerhaus Dortmund for fifteen years. She is a member and international delegate of Deutscher Künstlerbund and joined the Canadian Artists' Representation in 2017. Rona is currently enrolled in the Interdisciplinary PhD Program at Memorial University with her project AMBIVALAND: Cultural Ambivalence in Newfoundland, which is located in the Humanities and Social Sciences.

Abstract: Aesthetics of Contamination - Four Visual Approaches

In her creative work, Rona traces and articulates previously invisible or unnoticed correlations between apparently unrelated contexts and phenomena. In some cases, she identifies those correlations through the tensions they evoke in the cultural fabric of a place. In others, she takes a purely aesthetic approach, and the tensions materialize in the process. In any case, tensions are both an inspiration and an element Rona aims to convey because the dialectical dynamics they evoke have a strong potential to engage the viewer/reader.


Aesthetics of contamination is a theme pregnant with tension, and upon reading the conference title, Rona thought of a series of her artworks from a variety of backgrounds immediately. In her presentation, she will show four moving image works that approach the subject from four different angles: jellyfire (3D animation, 2007), blackberg (Newfoundland 2007), transient (Austria 2009), and Fedje (Norway 2012). Fedje, jellyfire, and blackberg have a clear connection to oceanic environments. While transient is situated in a landlocked setting, it complements the creative canon.

Sarah Joy Stoker

Interdisciplinary artist Sarah Joy Stoker’s work is rooted in dance, performance, video, and installation and has always been art-for-action based. For two and a half decades her practice has been driven by the devastating lack of ecological care, health and justice on this planet. Always affected by what continues to happen to and in this world due to such a dramatic disconnect from nature fuelled by our colonial past and present, her work spans, They cut down trees so you can wipe your ass and blow your nose with the softest tissues ever (1999), to Rocks on (2005), Sapiens lay here (2007), When the birds fly happy (2011), The worth of (2014), Our heart breaks (2018), to film adaptation, Once we were trees (2019), to Fort/tress (2020) and film Woven Prayers on Melting Ice (2023). Sarah holds firm that art is an active force in life and should be used as a vehicle for action. Her most recent work comes from time spent in the Arctic Circle in April 2023, navigating the west coast of Svalbard aboard the tall ship Antigua as part of the Arctic Circle Residency.


Sarah acknowledges with the deepest respect and gratitude, those that were here first, the land, water, sky and animals of the unceded ancestral homeland of the Beothuk, Mi’kmaq, Innu, and Inuit territories on this, Ktaqmkuk (Newfoundland, and Labrador) where she lives and works.

Abstract: Walking the Retreat of a Glacier

A first-hand account from April 2023, as Sarah was a participant of The Arctic Circle – Residency for Art and Science, a self – directed residence sailing aboard the tall ship Antigua. The two-week journey led them to some of the most isolated areas in the high arctic, navigating around the west coast of Svalbard to reach beyond 80º north latitude, nearing the North Pole. Her intention was to put herself in this environment to, through her art practice, draw more attention to the climate crisis, continuing colonization, and the dire need for urgent action. It was an act of hope; an act of and call for extreme reverence, the most profound love, the deepest grief, and rejection of arrogance, entitlement, and violence. It was and is, an alert, a call for extreme caution and action, an alarm, a warning, a distress call, an EMERGENCY –


Sarah will share some of the images and videos she created during her time in the Arctic. She will also speak to and describe the day the group “walked the retreat of a glacier”, as narrated to them by Sarah Gerats, their main Arctic guide. Also an artist, she explains her long form story telling of the progress of warming at the poles, which she witnesses and experiences with her own eyes and physical body, both in The Arctic and Antarctica, multiple times a year, every year for over a decade.



Leon Chung

Chung is a Newfoundland-based early career professional cartoonist and illustrator, with a design background (hand-drawn 2D art and animation and traditional painting/drawing). He currently works as a freelance artist, designing logos, illustrations/artworks, and editorial pieces. His artworks have been recognized provincially and nationally, including the Historic Sites Association of Newfoundland & Labrador and Canada Council for the Arts, and are displayed at some of the Province's national landmarks, including the Cabot Tower of Signal Hill, Cape Spear Historic Site, and various Heritage Shoppe storefronts across Newfoundland. He has illustrated three children's books and a cookbook, and drawn for Riddle Fence Art Journal & Magazine and Newfoundland Quarterly, renowned as Canada's longest running arts and culture magazine. Leon is currently working on his first solo graphic novel, Furusato, an anthology of tales about the bittersweet cycle of love, grief, and coffee (

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Georgia Dawkin

Georgia Dawkin is an interdisciplinary artist who works with a wide range of media including printmaking, painting, photography, video, installation, and performance. Originally from British Columbia, her art practice began and developed in Newfoundland where she graduated from Grenfell Campus, Memorial University with her BFA in 2022. Along with her first solo exhibition at the Eastern Edge rOGUE Gallery (NL) in 2020, Dawkin has also previously shown in group exhibitions at the Art Museum University of Toronto (ON),  Art Mur (QC), the Grenfell Art Gallery (NL), and the Tina Dolter Gallery (NL). Dawkin currently resides and works in St. John’s, Newfoundland. 

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Learn more here:


Jamie Moran

Jamie Moran has been a performer and educator in various music circles since 2014. A student of the MUNL School of Music, he has performed with many ensembles including the Newfoundland Symphony Orchestra and Scruncheons Percussion Ensemble among others. Jamie is also the percussionist for Cabot Power, and performs with other local artists including The Celtic Fiddles. Besides percussion, Jamie plays many different instruments including guitar, bouzouki, mandolin, bodhran, banjo, drums, and he also sings. Jamie has traveled the province multiple times performing and leading workshops in various capacities. As an educator, Jamie is both a private and substitute music teacher. As an advocate for music, he is a board member with both the Newfoundland and Labrador Band Association and the CFM Local 820.

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Brad Jefford

Brad Jefford learned to play the guitar while in a dream. A village of gnomes residing in the belly of a rosewood dreadnought would use the frequencies of bronze strings to communicate to the vast world outside. These frequencies could explain theories of the night stars, meanings of the heart's feelings, and the rhythm and rhyme found between the lines. In this state of altered consciousness, Brad could understand and speak the language of the strings with ease like that of the mother tongue.  His time in this world left him with memories of hertz colliding with the wonderful ruckus of his little friends singing and dancing in their little red hats until the morning's alarm left them silent.  Awake, these beautiful sounds are something he can only dream to recreate, but that hasn't kept him from trying. Each day he opens his ears and heart, yearning to bring the sound of dreams to reality, hoping that one day we can hear and understand the beauty of communication.

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Learn more here:

Noah Sheppard

Noah Sheppard is a multi-medium artist and journalist from St. Bernard’s-Jacques Fontaine. He has experience as a theatre director for Shakespeare by the Sea, as well as an actor and voice actor on various theatrical and short film productions. He also works as a broadcast journalist for VOCM News, where he is the host of VOCM Encore. Prior to that, he attended Sheridan College where he received a Diploma of Journalism, and Memorial University, where he graduated from the Screen and Stage Technique diploma program.

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Jarod Farrell

Jarod Farrell (he/they) is a multimedia artist, writer, and stand-up comedian based in St John's, NL. As a comic, he has showcases for Just For Laughs, and was a finalist in Last Comic Standing 2023. He co-wrote and co-starred in The Queen of Hearts at the 2023 St John's Short Play Festival, and his original play It's Up To You: An Interactive Story will be premiering at the Barbara Barrett Theatre on October 26th, 2023.


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Sarah Joy Stoker

Interdisciplinary artist Sarah Joy Stoker’s work is rooted in dance, performance, video, and installation and has always been art-for-action based. For two and a half decades her practice has been driven by the devastating lack of ecological care, health and justice on this planet. Always affected by what continues to happen to and in this world due to such a dramatic disconnect from nature fuelled by our colonial past and present, her work spans, They cut down trees so you can wipe your ass and blow your nose with the softest tissues ever (1999), to Rocks on (2005), Sapiens lay here (2007), When the birds fly happy (2011), The worth of (2014), Our heart breaks (2018), to film adaptation, Once we were trees (2019), to Fort/tress (2020) and film Woven Prayers on Melting Ice (2023). Sarah holds firm that art is an active force in life and should be used as a vehicle for action. Her most recent work comes from time spent in the Arctic Circle in April 2023, navigating the west coast of Svalbard aboard the tall ship Antigua as part of the Arctic Circle Residency.

Sarah acknowledges with the deepest respect and gratitude, those that were here first, the land, water, sky and animals of the unceded ancestral homeland of the Beothuk, Mi’kmaq, Innu, and Inuit territories on this, Ktaqmkuk (Newfoundland, and Labrador) where she lives and works.


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Jennifer Lynn Dick

Jennifer Lynn Dick, she/her, is an independent dance artist and scholar, collaborator, and mother, living between Toronto/Tkaronto and St. John’s, NL/Ktaqamkuk. She holds an MA in dance studies with a focus on new methodologies considering the role of the dancer as an agent of archiving and the complexities of authorship in dance making. 

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Andrya Duff

As a multidisciplinary artist, some of Andrya’s performance projects include; Here nor There (St. John’s Short Play Festival, Festival of New Dance), The Baroness Von Sketch Show (Choreographer/Dancer), Pleasure Principle (Ryan McNamara - Harbourfront Centre), Blue Mouth Group (Dance Marathon - Harbourfront Centre), Circus Orange (Tricycle - World Pride, Hamilton SuperCrawl, Rochester Fringe), Theater Rusticle (Dinner at 7:30/The Stronger Variations - Buddies in Bad Times), Sore for Punching You (Exhale - Citadel, Dancemakers), The Proust Project (Canstage Festival), Double Sure Theatre Co-op (Her Closely- LSPU Hall), Untellable Movement Theatre (Eli and The Death Curse - LSPU Hall, Mayflies Performance Series). Andrya is one-third of Grand Trine Presents - a multi-discipline/media collaboration that creates through the lens of astrological archetypes (St. John’s Short Play Festival, Neighbourhood Dance Works - First Look, CB Nuit, CHMR).


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Robyn Noftall

Robyn is a multidisciplinary artist and spiritual leader currently based in Ktaqamkuk/St. John’s, Newfoundland. She aims to promote the empowerment of the subtle feminine body by integrating ancient meditative techniques into her artistic practices. Robyn believes in approaching her performances, collaborations, and teachings with softness, curiosity, and play. She has taught, studied and performed internationally in Jordan, Cuba and Berlin. Robyn lived in Tkaronto/Toronto for ten years where many of her artistic works took place with artists German Prieto, Raine Kearns, Michael Peter Olsen (Our Founders), Mateo Galindo Torres (Guetcha Guaritcha) and more. She is a graduate of Randolph Academy ('14), George Brown Dance ('12), Shawna Turner’s Yoga School (200hr YTT, Yin Yoga & Mindfulness ) and Barreworks TO (Certified By Barreworks). Currently, she is sharing her personal practice called 'Waves,' which aims to liberate mind, body, and voice by enhancing awareness and alignment with emotions and the body's energy flow.

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Nicola Hawkins

Nicola Hawkins began her professional career as a stage director and choreographer when she moved to Boston, USA, from her native England and founded the Nicola Hawkins Dance Company (1993-2005). The award winning critically acclaimed company was known for its visually striking productions, drawing large audiences in Boston, New England and New York City. The Boston Herald noted: “There isn’t anything that Nicola Hawkins does emurely...the work is the evidence of Hawkins’ staggering ability to generate fresh and atypical dances...all of them accompanied by live musicians”. The Boston Globe noted: “Over the years, she has amassed an impressive repertoire of works that are musically sophisticated and theatrically alluring.” 

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As the company's sole choreographer and costume/set designer, Nicola became known for her eclectic range of projects. She directed and choreographed a dance opera composed by Elena Ruehr for the Boston Modern Orchestra Project, choreographed for a Gamelan Orchestra at MIT led by Evan Ziporyn, and her company members were guest artists of Bobby McFerrin at Boston's Symphony Hall. Nicola was presented by many arts and educational institutions such as Bank of Boston Celebrity Series, Harvard University, MIT, and the Peabody Essex Museum. Nicola Hawkins Dance Company was granted many commissions and awards including those from the LEF Foundation, CrashARTS, and Dance Umbrella Boston.
In 2006, Nicola emigrated to Newfoundland, Canada, and immersed herself in her visual art practice. In 2011, she had a one woman show at the Provincial Gallery of Art and two others at the Provincial Craft Council Gallery. Most recently she returned to directing and choreographing for both stage and film. Since 2019 Nicola has focused her energies on creating screendances, short films in which feature choreography is designed specifically to be captured by the moving camera. In 2021/2 Nicola created a Circle of Truth a movement portrait of her husband building and tending his garden over the course of a year. It had its premiere in Seoul, Korea.
In 2022, she choreographed and directed Scored by Time (2022) a screendance featuring the legendary ballerina Evelyn Hart performing onscreen with Canada's preeminent classical music partnership Duo Concertante: Nancy Dahn, violin & Timothy Steeves, piano. This film had its world premiere and was a winner at Festival Internacional de Cine Silente México. Its Canadian Premier was at the Festival of International Films on Art (Le FIFA) in Montreal in March 2023. It is currently making the festival rounds and to date has screened at 12 film festivals across Canada. Most recently Nicola was invited to participate in the Atlantic International Film Festival Film Lab 2023.

Robyn Breen

Robyn Breen is a dance artist, movement educator and arts event coordinator. She was born and raised in St. John’s, NL, and spent over a dozen years living and working in Toronto, Ontario. Since 2020, she has been spending most of her time back home in Newfoundland reconnecting with the arts community. Robyn was a co-artistic director (aka LOVER) with the Toronto Dance Community Love-In from 2014-2021 where she worked with and learned from dozens of dance artists and movement educators from around the globe. Her work as a choreographer has been presented at SummerWorks Performance Festival and TO Love-In’s PS: We Are All Here in Toronto, The Festival of New Dance in St. John’s, and Coastal Currents in Halifax.


Photo Creds: LV Imagery


Schedule of Events

Thursday, October 26th
Location: DH 2002 & DH 2006, Gushue Hall, Memorial University

6 p.m. - 9 p.m.

Opening Reception & Registration


Friday, October 27th
Location: DH 2002 & DH 2006, Gushue Hall, Memorial University


8 a.m. - 9 a.m.

Registration & Welcome

9 a.m. - 10 a.m.

Keynote: Dr. Sourayan Mookerjea

10 a.m. - 10:30 a.m.


10:30 a.m. - 12 p.m.

Panel: Beyond The Human

Polack/Boothby; Martini; Prahl

12 p.m. - 1 p.m.


1 p.m. - 1:30 p.m.



1:30 p.m. - 1:45 p.m.


1:45 p.m. - 3:45 p.m.

Panel: Environmental and Human Empoverishments

Oyedele/Stoddart; Gnerre; Diouf

3:45 p.m. - 4 p.m.


4 p.m. - 5:30 p.m.

Panel: Aesthetic Contaminations

Doyle; Trzeciak


Saturday, October 28th
Location: DH 2002 & DH 2006, Gushue Hall, Memorial University


8:30 a.m. - 9 a.m.

Welcome & Coffee

9 a.m. - 10:30 a.m.

Panel: Indigenous Interventions

Carson; Ogunmekan

10:30 a.m. - 11 a.m.


11 a.m. - 12 p.m.

Keynote: Dr. Claire Omhovere

12 p.m. - 1 p.m.


1 p.m. - 2:30 p.m.

Roundtable: Science, Art, and Sustainability

Snelgrove; Mather; Neis

2:30 p.m. - 3 p.m.



3 p.m. - 3:15 p.m.


3:15 p.m. - 4 p.m.

Panel: Oceanic Unpredictabilities

Foster; Purcille

4 p.m. - 4:15 p.m.


4:15 p.m. - 5:45 p.m.

Panel: Art and Awareness

Lorre-Johnston; Rangsch; Stoker


Sunday, October 29th
Location: The Rooms, St. John's, NL


12 p.m. - 1:30 p.m.


1:30 p.m. - 2:30 p.m.

Guided Tour of The Rooms Provincial Art Gallery

2:30 p.m. - 4:30 p.m.

Keynote: Dr. Gretchen Schiller and Dance Choreography



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We acknowledge that the lands on which Memorial University’s campuses are situated are in the traditional territories of diverse Indigenous groups, and we acknowledge with respect the diverse histories and cultures of the Beothuk, Mi’kmaq, Innu, and Inuit of this province.

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