Imagine Otherwise: Melody Jue on Thinking through Seawater

Imagine Otherwise: Melody Jue on Thinking through Seawater

October 10, 2019

On episode 97 of the Imagine Otherwise podcast I interview ocean humanities scholar and scuba diver Melody Jue about how she uses scuba diving as a humanities research methodology and method of interpretation, how scuba offers a less terrestrially biased model of feminist standpoint epistemology, and why Melody turns to kelp and other seaweeds for radical models of hope and climate justice.


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You can also read the transcript and show notes on the Ideas on Fire website, which have links to Melody’s work and all the concepts, people, and events we discuss on the show (great for teaching!).

Melody Jue wearing a grey patterned shirt in front of a stone building. Text reads: Melody Jue on Thinking through Seawater, Imagine Otherwise episode 97

Guest: Melody Jue

Melody Jue is an assistant professor of English at the University of California, Santa Barbara. She has published widely on the ocean humanities, American literature, media theory, science fiction, and science and technology studies.

Drawing on her experience of becoming a scuba diver, her book Wild Blue Media: Thinking Through Seawater (Duke University Press, 2020) destabilizes terrestrial-based ways of knowing and reorients our perception of the world by considering the ocean as a media environment. She brings this new understanding to bear on questions of cultural preservation and environmental justice.

Melody is also a co-editor of Saturation: An Elemental Politics (Duke University Press, 2021) with Rafico Ruiz and has published articles in Grey Room, Women’s Studies Quarterly, Animations, Humanities Circle, Scale in Literature & Culture, and Green Planets: Ecology and Science Fiction. 

Melody completed her PhD in literature at Duke University. Prior to that, she worked as a Fulbright English teaching assistant at the Open University of Hong Kong.

She is currently working on a new monograph about seaweeds.

Key quote

“I began to look for different ways that terrestrial bias, which is something I develop in my book, forms many of the ways that we think about and orient to the world. Going underwater, for me, became this sort of science fictional method of trying to estrange what I was comfortable with as an embodied observer. In my book, Wild Blue Media, I use scuba diving and often start with experiences from scuba diving to think about literary interpretation in a different way as well as to think about terms in media studies in a different way by submerging them in the ocean. “

– Melody Jue on episode 97 of the Imagine Otherwise podcast


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