Herman Melville’s towering “Moby Dick” crosses oceans, spans centuries, imagines new forms of life and still has readers captivated. On the eve of the author’s bicentennial, a day-long symposium hosted by the Department of English considers why Melville has become a writer for our time — a time dominated by catastrophic climate change, political instability, new material forms and a renewed interest in the possibilities of the aesthetic. Room 305, Pembroke Hall, 172 Meeting Street.