The Beach in the Long Twentieth Century


PD Dr Ursula Kluwick (Senior Researcher)

Ursula Kluwick loves swimming, and her first aquatic love will always be fresh water, especially the lakes of her home country, Austria, and the Alpine rivers of her adopted country, Switzerland. But she is also happy to succumb to the pull of the oceanic beach and is an avid collector of shells. This dual interest is reflected in her work on water, in which she has been engaged since 2006.
Haunting Ecologies: Victorian Conceptions of Water (forthcoming at the University of Virginia Press 2024), her book on Victorian engagements with fresh water, sets out to supplement the current focus on saltwater in the Blue Humanities. For this work, she was awarded a postdoctoral Marie Heim-Vögtlin scholarship by the SNSF (
But she also shares a longstanding interest in cultural representations of the beach with Virginia Richter, which over the years has led to a close and productive collaboration on all things littoral. Together, they organised a conference and several panels on littoral studies, gave conference presentations, published a book chapter, and co-edited the volume The Beach in Anglophone Literatures and Cultures (Ashgate 2015). Most recently, this partnership has resulted in the project The Beach in the Long Twentieth Century.

Ursula is also the author of Exploring Magic Realism in Salman Rushdie’s Fiction (Routledge, 2011) and, somewhat bizarrely, her interest in the beach was, originally, sparked by Rushdie’s descriptions of Aurora Zogoiby’s fictional paintings of the beach in The Moor’s Last Sigh. The clash between pain and pleasure, violence and leisure that characterises these descriptions, however, is still at the forefront of Ursula’s interest in the beach as a conflicted site that exposes cultures in crisis.

Ursula’s research concentrates on the fields of Victorian and postcolonial studies and the Environmental, specifically the Blue, Humanities, with a specific focus on prose writing of the nineteenth, twentieth, and twenty-first centuries. She is particularly interested in new materialism, all things aquatic and littoral, and in non-realist forms of writing.  From 2013-2015, she was a member of the DFG-Netzwerk Ethics und Aesthetics in Literary Representations of Ecological Transformations. Her current project deals with the representation of the Mediterranean, c. 1950 to the present.

Bodies on the Beach. The Mediterranean as Fugitive Space

This project takes its impetus from the current refugee crisis and examines the manner in which the view of the beach is changing in its wake. Specifically, the focus is on the beach as a contact zone that exposes cultures in crisis, as shown particularly in clashes between vacationscape and thanatoscape, and on how different texts and genres of Anglophone literature register and represent the conflicts and shifts between these two functions. In literary texts, this clash is often represented by different sensory engagements with the materiality of the sea and the beach: the currents and breakers which denote pleasure for bathing tourists are acutely threatening to refugees. The project breaks new ground through its inclusion of children and young adult fiction, as well as picture books and graphic novels, literary forms that have been among the first to react to the migration crisis. With their ethically motivated attempt to link the situation of refugees to the world of young readers, these genres merit special attention, specifically with regard to the tourist beach, which forms a cosmopolitan contact zone for young readers in particular.

Publications in the Field of the Environmental and Blue Humanities



Kluwick, Ursula. Haunting Ecologies: Victorian Conceptions of Water. Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, forthcoming


Edited Volumes

Kluwick, Ursula and Virginia Richter, eds. Handbook of Littoral Studies. Handbooks of English and American Studies. De Gruyter, 2025 (under contract).

De Waal, Ariane and Ursula Kluwick, eds. 2022. Victorian Materialisms. Special issue of European Journal of English Studies 26.1.

Gurr, Jens Martin and Ursula Kluwick, eds. 2021. Literature and …: Interdisciplinary Explorations. Anglistik 32.3.

Kluwick, Ursula and Evi Zemanek, eds. Nachhaltigkeit – interdisziplinär. Konzepte, Diskurse, Praktiken. Weimar: Böhlau/UTB, 2019.

Kluwick, Ursula and Virginia Richter, eds. 2015. The Beach in Anglophone Literatures and Cultures: Reading Littoral Space. Farnham and Burlington, VT: Ashgate, 2015. (peer-reviewed; reviewed in SEL Studies in English Literature 1500-1900 56.4 [autumn 2016] and Victorian Poetry 53.3 [autumn 2015]).


Recent Articles and Book Chapters

Kluwick, Ursula. 2023. “The Mobility of Water: Aquatic Transformation and Disease in Victorian Literature.” Medicine and Mobility in Nineteenth-Century British Literature, History, and Culture. Ed. Sandra Dinter and Sarah Schäfer-Althaus. Basingstoke: Palgrave, pp. 145-164.

Kluwick, Ursula. 2023. “A Sanitary Sense of Smell: Olfaction and Bodily Boundaries in Victorian Writing.” Literature and the Senses. Oxford Twenty-First Century Approaches to Literature. Ed. Annette Kern-Stähler and Elizabeth Robertson. Oxford: Oxford University Press. pp. 236-252.

De Waal, Ariane and Ursula Kluwick. 2022. “Victorian Materialisms: Approaching Nineteenth-Century Matter.” European Journal of English Studies 26.1 (March 2022), pp. 1-13. DOI:

Gurr, Jens Martin and Ursula Kluwick. 2021. “Literature and …? Perspectives on Interdisciplinarity: Introduction.” Literature and …: Interdisciplinary ExplorationsAnglistik 32.3 (Winter 2021), pp. 5-18. DOI:

Kluwick, Ursula. 2020. “The Global Deluge: Floods, Diluvian Imagery, and Aquatic Language in Amitav Ghosh’s The Hungry Tide and Gun Island.” Green Letters 24:1 (2020), 64- 78. DOI: (peer-reviewed)

Kluwick, Ursula and Virginia Richter. 2020. “Of Tourists and Refugees: The Global Beach in the Twenty-First Century.” Heterotopia and Globalisation in the Twenty-First Century. Ed. Simon Ferdinand, Irina Souch, and Daan Wesselman. London: Routledge, pp. 116-130.

Kluwick, Ursula. 2020. “The Aesthetics of Bodies in Translation: From The Water-Babies to Real Humans.Medial Bodies. Ed. Denisa Butnaru. Bielefeld: Transcript, pp. 85-103.

Kluwick, Ursula and Evi Zemanek. 2019. “Einleitung.” Nachhaltigkeit interdisziplinär: Konzepte, Diskurse, Praktiken. Ed. Ursula Kluwick and Evi Zemanek. UTB Böhlau, pp. 11-26.

Kluwick, Ursula. 2019. “Aquatic Matter in Victorian Fiction.” Open Cultural Studies vol. 3, no. 1 (2019), 245-255. DOI: (peer-reviewed)

Kluwick, Ursula. 2018. “Victorian Cultural Sustainability.” Cultural Sustainability:
Perspectives from the Humanities and Social Sciences
. Ed. Gabriele Rippl and Torsten Meireis. London: Routledge. 184-193.

Kluwick, Ursula. 2017. “Die unheimliche Natur: Schauer- und Sensationsroman als Spielarten einer ökologischen Ästhetik.” Ökologische Genres und Schreibmodi. Ed. Evi Zemanek. Umwelt und Gesellschaft (Rachel Carson Center, Munich). Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht. 181-194.

Kluwick, Ursula. 2016. “Dickens in America – America in Dickens.” Handbook of Transatlantic North American Studies. Ed. Julia Straub. Berlin: De Gruyter. 448-469.

Kluwick, Ursula. 2016. “Tod(es-)Maschine Hai.” PhiN-Beiheft 10/2016: 61-76.

Kluwick, Ursula. 2015. “Climate Change, the Novel, and the Bildungsroman: The Relation of Things in an Emergent World.” Anglistentag 2014 Hannover: Proceedings. Ed. Rainer Emig and Jana Gohrisch. Trier: WVT. 329-340.

Richter, Virginia and Ursula Kluwick. 2015. “Introduction. ’Twixt Land and Sea: Approaches to Littoral Studies.” The Beach in Anglophone Literatures and Cultures: Reading Littoral Space. Ed. Ursula Kluwick and Virginia Richter. Farnham and Burlington, VT: Ashgate. 1-20. (peer-reviewed)

Kluwick, Ursula. 2015. “Food for Sharks: Abjection on the Beach.” The Beach in Anglophone Literatures and Cultures: Reading Littoral Space. Ed. Ursula Kluwick and Virginia Richter. Farnham and Burlington, VT: Ashgate, 2015. 139-154. (peer-reviewed)

Kluwick, Ursula. 2014. “The Coast as a Site of Ecological Haunting in Iris Murdoch’s The Sea, The Sea and Daphne du Maurier’s Rebecca.” Navigating Cultural Spaces: Maritime Places. Ed. Anna Horatschek, Yvonne Rosenberg and Daniel Schäbler. Spatial Practices 18. Amsterdam: Rodopi. 237-255.

Kluwick, Ursula. 2014. “Talking About Climate Change: The Ecological Crisis and Narrative Form.” The Oxford Handbook of Ecocriticism. Ed. Greg Garrad. Oxford: Oxford UP. 502-516.

Kluwick, Ursula. 2012. “The Tempest Re-Envisioned: Encounters with the Sea in Iris Murdoch and Derek Jarman.” Shakespeare’s (Un)fortunate Travellers: Maritime Adventures across the Genres. Shakespeare Seminar 9 (2011). Ed. Christina Wald and Felix C. H. Sprang: 53-65.

Kluwick, Ursula. 2011. “Waters of Paradise: The English Patient.” Projections of Paradise: Ideal Elsewheres in Postcolonial Migrant Literature. Ed. Helga Ramsey-Kurz with Geetha Ganapathy-Doré. Cross/Cultures 132. Amsterdam: Rodopi. 179-193.


Invited and Plenary Lectures

“Nebel, Wolken und Phasenübergänge: Die Agenz des Wassers in der englischen Literatur.” Invited Lecture. University of Erlangen, Germany. 30 November 2023. 

“The Beach as a Space of Contradiction: Encounters in the Littoral Contact Zone.” Invited Lecture. University of Bremen, Germany. 29 November 2023. 

“The Blue Humanities: Literature as an Agent of Change.” Invited Lecture. EurOCEAN 2023, Vigo, Spain. 11 October 2023. 

Participation in roundtable on how the arts can serve as agents of change. Invited Speaker. EurOCEAN 2023, Vigo, Spain. 11 October 2023. 

“Transmedia Afterlives: Representing Migrant Deaths.” Invited Lecture. University of Graz, Austria. 4 October 2023.

“Climate Change and Form: 21st-Century Anthropocene Water Fictions.” Invited Lecture, University of Fribourg, Switzerland. 16 March 2023.

“Victorian Liquid Ecologies: Water and the Victorian Novel”. Keynote DACH Workshop. 9 December 2022 (Zoom).

“The Blue Humanities: Aquatic Materialisations Beyond the Sea.” EASLCE Webinar. 3 November 2022 (Zoom).

“Swimming with Shakespeare: A Blue Reading of The Tempestand Twelfth Night.” Invited Lecture. University of Innsbruck. 27 April 2022.

“Victorian Blue Humanities.” Invited Paper. DACH Victorianists Workshop. 3 December 2021 (Zoom).

“The Beach in the Long Twentieth Century.” Invited Paper, with Virginia Richter. The Ecological Imperative. University of Bern 27 November 2020 (Zoom)

“Climate Change, Realism, and the Novel.” Invited Lecture. University of Innsbruck. 21 October 2020.

“Paradiesische Gewässer.” Invited Paper. Sprache Prep Paradies. University of Köln 7 November 2019.

“Water in the Anthropocene.” Invited Paper. Anthropocene (Post)Humanities. Bayrische Akademie. 10 September 2019.

“Moving Matter: Drinking Disease in Victorian Literature.” Invited Paper. Locating Intersections of Medicine and Mobility in 19th-Century Britain. University of Nürnberg-Erlangen. September 2019.

“Mediterranean Arrivals.” Invited Lecture. Albert-Ludwigs University of Freiburg. 6 June 2018.

“Interdiscursive Relations: Infiltration as a Case Study.” Invited Lecture. English Department, University of Vienna. 16 October 2015.

“Victorian London – Water, Hygiene, and Charles Dickens.” Invited Paper. Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg. 24 May 2012.

The Tempest Re-Envisioned: Encounters with the Sea in Iris Murdoch and Derek Jarman.” Plenary Lecture. Shakespeare’s Shipwrecks: Theatres of Maritime Adventure. Shakespeare-Tage 2011. Deutsche Shakespeare-Gesellschaft. 29 April 2011. PDF Link

“Climate Change & Narration: The Environmental Role of Stories.” Invited Lecture. University of Exeter at Falmouth, 21 March 2011.


Conferences and Outreach

Literature and …? Perspectives on Interdisciplinarity, section for the Anglistentag 2019, University of Leipzig, 22-25 September 2019 (with Prof. Dr Jens Martin Gurr, University of Duisburg-Essen).

‘Of Dark Waters: Strange Science, Forms and Genres in Literary Wetscapes’, panel for the British Society for Literature and Science Fourteenth Annual Conference, Royal Holloway, University of London, 4-6 April 2019 (with Dr Jolene Mathieson, University of Hamburg).

Rhetorik der Nachhaltigkeit: Konzepte und Diskurse nachhaltiger Zukunftsgestaltung in Medien, Politik und diversen Fachdisziplinen. International conference, FRIAS, University of Freiburg, 15-17 June 2016 (with Prof. Dr Evi Zemanek, Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg).

‘Species Encounters on the Beach’, panel for ASLE 2011 (Association for the Study of Literature and EnvironmentConference 2011), Indiana University, Bloomington, Indiana, 21-26 June 2011 (with Prof. Dr Virginia Richter).

’Twixt Land and Sea: The Beach in Literature, Film and Cultural Theory. International Conference, University of Bern 2009, with Prof. Dr Virginia Richter (University of Bern) and Prof. Dr Julika Griem (TU Darmstadt, now KWI Essen).