Salvage Watery Memory: Water and Memory in Jesmyn Ward’s Salvage the Bones


  • Hanna Masslich Leibniz University Hannover



Hurricane Katrina, Water, Memory, Materiality, the Anthropocene, the Middle Passage


In this article, I will investigate the entanglement of water and memory in Jesmyn Ward’s novel Salvage the Bones (2011). To analyze the multiplicity of literal and figurative references to water, I will refer to posthumanist and new materialist water scholarship as well as Black Studies. I argue that the narrated water scales up the time and space of the story and thereby situates Hurricane Katrina in the history of transatlantic slavery and the Middle Passage. By functioning as a keeper of memory and archive in the novel, water evolves as a substance that enables the concurrent examination of racialized histories and contemporary environmental disasters.

Author Biography

Hanna Masslich, Leibniz University Hannover

Hanna Masslich is a PhD student and research assistant at the Leibniz University Hannover. She completed her Master’s degrees in Advanced Anglophone Studies (M.A.) and English and Political Science (M.Ed.) in Hannover in 2021. In her final thesis, she investigated the flood motif in three contemporary novels. She is currently expanding on her previous work on flood fictions and is particularly interested in the ways in which the material environment and the literary imagination are intertwined. Hanna Masslich is a founding editor of the new graduate journal In Progress. Her research interests include Contemporary Literature, Environmental Humanities, the Anthropocene and Climate Change, New Materialism, as well as Postcolonial and Indigenous Studies.




How to Cite

Masslich, Hanna. “Salvage Watery Memory: Water and Memory in Jesmyn Ward’s Salvage the Bones”. Current Objectives of Postgraduate American Studies, vol. 24, no. 1, Aug. 2023, pp. 58-72, doi:10.5283/copas.382.