Title: Of Ice and Men. A New Materialist Reading of Maja Lunde’s The End of the Ocean
Abstract: The purpose of this presentation is to investigate Maja Lunde’s novel The End of the Ocean (2017) through the lens of the recent discourses of new materialist theories and that of the nonhuman turn in the humanities. However, apart from being a close reading of the novel, my research aims to be a meditation on the interdependencies of life and non-life, humans and nonhumans. Reading ice as a lively, fluid ontology, instead of inert, corpuscular matter, I argue that Blåfonna (the glacier in Lunde’s story) is never just a mass of ice, but an active presence that has shaped and continues to shape the life of the human characters in the novel. Signe, the main character in Lunde’s story, describes her glacier as a breathing, living organism, capable of feeling and suffering, transforming and (re)creating itself in numerous ways. Blåfonna never stops becoming. It grows when drops of water freeze on its surface, drops of water which will become the glacier itself. But the same drops, and of course many others, leave the glacier-source when parts of it are melting. Since ice is both liquid and solid, in the sense that it can swiftly mutate between these two states, one can talk about ice as in-betweenness. Ice is a breach, an exception, and anomaly which challenges well-established considerations about spatiality and borders, exactly because it is a fuzzy, fluid, both mobile and immobile body. While solid at first glance, ice is never passive or motionless, but in a perpetual process of re-formation, and the cracklings that occur when ice breaks are throbbing reminders of a solidity never entirely solid. The boundaries between human and nonhuman, alive and lifeless, organic and inorganic, solid and liquid seem to fade away when we discuss ice.
Bio: Călina-Maria Moldovan is a PhD student at the Faculty of Letters, Babeș-Bolyai University of Cluj-Napoca. She holds a Master’s degree in Comparative Literature and, as of 2022, she is a member of the Ecocritical Network for Scandinavian Studies. Her research interests include nonhuman studies, (blue) ecocriticism, new materialist theories, Scandinavian literature and film. She has published articles and book reviews in Studia Scandinavica, Studia Philologia, Metacritic Journal for Comparative Studies and Theory and Ekphrasis Journal.