“What then is the essential nature of cloudiness?”
– Ludwig Wittgenstein,
Remarks on Colour
Poster image adapted from Cory Arcangel, Super Mario Clouds (2002)
Esther Leslie Professor in Political Aesthetics and Co-Director of Birkbeck Institute for the Humanities
Joanna Walsh Author and Critic whose recent books include Break.up (2018) and World's from the Word's End (2017)
Call for Papers
Clouds have excited thinkers for millennia, from Anaximenes’ 6th century BC Theory of Air to Peter Sloterdijk’s early-twenty-first century philosophy of Bubbles, Globes, and Foams (1998-2004).
We invite participants across the humanities to consider the interstitial nature of the cloud in culture, both as natural object and artificial media ecology.
How do the clean lonely clouds pootling through Wordsworth’s Romantic poetry relate to the “asbestos-y texture” of Tan Lin’s millennial urban skyscapes? Do the toxic textures of the Anthropocene influence contemporary ecocritical ideas like “solastalgia”? Might “cyberspace”, which, as Joanna Walsh puts it, “is an old-fashioned word for the Net, which has evaporated into the Cloud”, relate to Virginia Woolf’s view that in modernity even “the air seemed to become fibrous”?
Topics might include, but are not limited to:
Information flow in the digital age, cloud technologies and media ecologies
Clouds in the visual arts
Cloud imagery in early modern and religious texts
Ecocritcal takes on clouds and weather
Word Clouds: the utility or limitations of corpus stylistics
Cloud as metaphor
Unstructured feelings and/or affect
Abstracts of 250 words should be emailed to by 5pm, Friday 28th of February. Please include a brief biographical note.
Venue & Contact
We hope you're able to attend. If you have questions about the registration process, our schedule or general information, don’t hesitate to email us at
The symposium will take place in the Gustave Tuck Lecture Theatre, UCL.