Friday, March 10, 2017

International Conference 
on Mermaids,Maritime Folklore, and Modernity

24-27 October 2017, Copenhagen, Denmark

This interdisciplinary conference addresses mermaid and related creatures from folklore, myth, legend, and the imagination in 19th-21st Century culture.

The past decades have seen an explosion of mermaid imagery in global popular culture, across cinema, television, literature, music, design, performance, cosplay, and web-based forms. Mermen, selkies, sirens, and newer figures such as caecelia and merlions have also come to prominence. From Hans Christian Andersen’s story ‘The Little Mermaid’ to Jennifer Donnely’s WaterFire Saga, from Curtis Harrington’s Night Tide to Stephen Chow’s The Mermaid (美人鱼), from Edvard Eriksen’s iconic ‘The Little Mermaid’ statue to Banksy’s Dismaland distortion, from the Weeki Wachi Springs mermaid show to the digital mermaids at Macau’s City of Dreams, mermaids have served as figures of romance, horror, comedy, mystery, lust, and adventure across countless media and cultural practices.

Cultural globalisation has granted mermaid associations to numerous non-western creatures and deities. Representations of aquatic spirits from around the world (West Africa’s Mami Wata, Thailand’s Suvannamaccha, Indonesia’s Nyai Loro Kidul, Russia’s rusalka, Brazil’s Iara, etc.) increasingly influence and are influenced by western mermaid culture. This process historically occurred in the West itself, as figures from Mesopotamia and Classical antiquity influenced Medieval and Early Modern European perceptions and interpretations of encounters with aquatic beings.

About the conference.

On 24-25 October, delegates will visit mermaid-related sites and engage in Copenhagen’s local culture. On the evening of 25 October, delegates will visit the enchanting Tivoli Gardens amusement park. Conference presentations will take place at VerdensKulturCentret on 26-27 October.

Keynote speakers.

Philip Hayward (University of Technology, Sydney & Southern Cross University, Lismore, Australia), author of Making a Splash! Mermaids (and Mermen) in 20th and 21st Century Audiovisual Media (forthcoming, JLP/University of Indiana Press).

Jenny Kokai (Weber State University, Ogden, USA), author of Swim Pretty: Aquatic Spectacles and the Performance of Race, Gender, and Nature (forthcoming, Southern Illinois University Press).

How to make a presentation.
Papers and panels are invited on all aspects of mermaids and related entities in 19th-21st Century culture. Presentations will address such issues as:
• Representations in popular culture and fine art
• Aficionado cultures and/or cosplay
• Contemporary folk belief
• Cultural Theory and interpretation
• Sexualities and identification
• Roles as objects of horror, comedy, sex, etc.
• International comparisons.

The deadline for abstracts is 31 March 2017. We recommend that you submit your abstract early. Artists working in various media are also invited to approach the organisers about presenting their work at the conference.

Participants will be invited to submit expanded versions of their papers to a special issue of the journal Shima ( on theme of ‘Mermaids, Maritime Folklore & Modernity’ to be published in 2018.

TECHNICAL PROBLEMS ARE PREVENTING SOME PEOPLE FROM SUBMITTING ABSTRACTS: If you are unable to submit your information using the form to the right, please e-mail all of the requested information to Adam Grydehøj (

This interdisciplinary conference addresses mermaids and related creatures from folklore, myth, legend, and the imagination in 19th-21st Century culture.

Proposing a presentation.
To propose a presentation, fill in all sections of the form to the right.

Submission Type: Select a submission type:
Standard Presentations last a maximum of 20 minutes, followed by around 10 minutes’ audience discussion. These talks may be accompanied by PowerPoint presentations.

Organised Sessions are groups of 3-4 Standard Presentations concerning a single theme and organised by the presenters (rather than the conference’s scientific committee). To propose an organised session, the corresponding author must submit a title and abstract for the session as a whole, including the names of the authors. Each participating presenter must then submit the abstracts that form part of the Organised Session.

Abstract: The abstract of your talk must be between 150-200 words total, including title. Shorter or longer submissions may be ignored. Make sure to include a title for your abstract. Do not format the text using italics, bold, or underlined words, and avoid discipline-specific jargon and citations to other works.

Biographical Note: Your biographical note (maximum 100 words) should be written in complete sentences and include your research areas, academic degree, and affiliation as applicable. If the presentation has more than one author, the corresponding author should provide biographical notes for the other authors as well.

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