Literature and the Wadden Sea

Dynamism, change and loss

This unit reflects on the dynamic nature of the Wadden Sea area and the implications of preserving a dynamic system for nature conservation and human habitation. In the Wadden Sea, the ebb and flow of the sea and the transportation and deposition of silt change the area continuously on short and long-term time scales. The unit investigates what it means to live in, care about and care for, be attached to and work to conserve a dynamic system that by its very nature resists static conservation. It pays particular attention to physical and geographical landscape features, and may include topics such as the movement of the sea, the formation of mudflats, lost centres of human habitation such as Rungholt, and hidden features on land, like priel-courses and dyke lines. It may also productively explore these in a Field trip. This unit may productively be linked with the unit on Biodiversity, as the themes of dynamism, change and loss resonate with issues in biodiversity including changing migration patterns and species loss.

Suggested secondary readings:

Chakrabarty, Dipesh. “The Climate of History: Four Theses.” Critical Inquiry. 35.2 (2009): 197-222.

Frers, Lars. “The Matter of Absence.” Cultural Geographies. 20.4 (2013): 431-445.

Ingold, Tim. “The Temporality of the Landscape.” World Archaeology. 25.2 (1993); 152-174.

Jensen, Lotte. “Floods As Shapers of Dutch Cultural Identity: Media, Theories and Practices.” Water History. 13 (2021): 217-233.

NL (EN) Löffler, M.A.M. et al. “Introduction.” Back to Basics: Natural Dynamics and Resilience on the Dutch Wadden Sea Barrier Islands. Groningen: Het Grafisch Huis, 2008. 9-15.

Reise, Karsten. “On the Origin of the Wadden Sea,” “Invited to Drown,” “Beginning of a New Wadden Alliance?” “How Natural Is Wadden Nature?” and “What does the Future Hold for the Wadden Sea?” A Natural History of the Wadden Sea: Riddled by Contingencies. Leeuwarden and Wilhelmshaven: Waddenacademie and Common Wadden Sea Secretariat, 2013. 34-41, 42-49, 50-59, 60-69, 70-79.

Ritson, Katie. “Against the Tide: Living with the North Sea.” The Shifting Sands of the North Sea Lowlands: Literary and Historical Imaginaries. Abingdon: Routledge, 2019. 27-48.

Ritson, Katie. “Silt.” Environmental Humanities. 11.2 (2019): 461-464.

Searle, Adam. “Absence.” Environmental Humanities. 12.1 (2020): 167-172.

Wylie, John. “Landscape, Absence and the Geographies of Love.” Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers. 24 (2009): 275-289.

Suggested primary readings:

DK (DE, EN, NL) Andersen, Hans Christian. De to baronesser. London: Richard Bentley, 1848. 

DK, EN (DE, NL) Blixen, Karen. “The Deluge at Norderney.” Seven Gothic Tales. New York: Harrison Smith and Robert Haas, 1934. 

DE Christophersen, Jan. Schneetage. Hamburg: Mareverlag, 2009.

NL Deen, Mathijs. “Nur Sand: De stormvloeden van de twaalfde en dertiende eeuw.” De Wadden. Een Geschiedenis. Amsterdam: Rap, 2013. 57-79.

(DE) Köster-Lösche, Kari. Die letzten Tage von Rungholt. Berlin: List Taschenbuch: 2006.

NL (EN) Leeflang, Ed. “De drieteenstrandloper.” n.d. Poetry International Archives. Accessed 7 Feb. 2022.

Macfarlane, Robert. “Silt.” 10 May 2012. Granta. 119. Accessed 14 Feb. 2022.  

Silence of the Tides. Directed by Pieter-Rim de Kroon, Windmill Film, 2020. 

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