The Cruel Sea Death and the sea - historical perspectives

Joerg Voegele's picture
Call for Papers
June 30, 2019
Subject Fields: 
Cultural History / Studies, Maritime History / Studies, Social History / Studies, World History / Studies


Call for Papers

The Cruel Sea

Death and the sea - historical perspectives

Workshop, Heinrich-Heine-Universität Düsseldorf, 23.-25. April 2020

All life comes from the sea. At the same time, however, the sea has always been a dangerous place. Countless seafarers have lost their lives in the wild and indomitable ocean. Sea wars were waged with extreme brutality. The work aboard the ships has always been one of the most dangerous occupations. Accidents, mutinies and attacks were accompanied by malnutrition and lack of hygiene. Scurvy, diarrhea and fever were among the most common diseases at sea. But even on land one was not completely safe from the dangers of the sea. Storm surges and tsunamis threatened the population of the coastal regions. Diseases and epidemics were introduced via the shipping routes into the port cities and spread from there to the hinterland. Foreign plants and animals were introduced and often displaced native species. The ambiguity between fascination and horror, adventure and disaster in the relationship between man and the sea was also reflected in literature (Moby Dick, for example) and fine arts (numerous examples can be found in the Graphic Collection Mensch und Tod of the HHU). And today the maritime habitat itself is under threat: warming, pollution, plastic waste, overfishing, etc.

The international and interdisciplinary workshop will discuss selected aspects of this interrelationship in cultural, economic and medical historical perspective and will be accompanied by an exhibition of works from the graphic collection and from contemporary artists.

Please submit abstract and short CV until 30th June 2019 to



Jörg Vögele / Luisa Rittershaus / Kelly Gisela Waap / Anna Schiller / Carola Spies / Christa Reißmann

Institut für Geschichte, Theorie und Ethik der Medizin

Heinrich Heine Universität Düsseldorf

Postfach 10 10 07

40001 Düsseldorf