Tag Archives: Sea Narratives

Keynote: “Wonders of the deep”; Sea treasures in nineteenth-century literature

I’m delighted to be giving a keynote talk on ‘“Wonders of the deep”; Sea treasures in nineteenth-century literature’, at  Becoming treasures of the sea: Epistemological constructions and marine resource regulation, an interdisciplinary conference  organised by 3ROcean on human-marine interactions, taking place at the University of the Azores next week (12th-14th September).

I will be contributing a paper on the perspectives on ocean ecologies afforded by 19th century literature, examining the literary and cultural “becomings” of the sea in the nineteenth century by way of setting up discussion of the contemporary situation. Building on my work in  Sea Narratives: cultural responses to the sea, 1600-present, in which I argued for a co-productive relationship between the sea and cultural production, I’m interested in not just what was known, but how that knowledge was brought into being through the cultural sphere; that is to say, less with the details of scientific exploration and study of the oceans in the 19th century, and more with the ways in which that knowledge was mediated, constructed, and relayed through the cultural sphere to the common reader. Moreover, I’m interested in the broader conceptual frameworks within which understandings of the sea as a valuable resource, or “treasure”, are situated; a variety of discursive approaches and understandings of the sea, which inform upon, contextualise, and contour this central theme.

My enquiry thus centres upon understanding what was known about the sea, how it was being made known, and crucially, tracing the co-productive relationship between the sea and cultural production/narrative form, as it impacts upon and resonates through the formation of knowledge about the sea. This paper aims not only to historicise human-marine interactions, but also to think about broader discursive frameworks within which marine resources are situated historically and to the present.

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Book review – Port Towns and Urban Cultures, in The Mariner’s Mirror

My review of Port Towns and Urban Cultures: International histories of the waterfront, c. 1700–2000, ed. Brad Beaven, Karl Bell and Robert James (Palgrave Macmillan, 2016) has been published in The Mariner’s Mirror (103.3); if you don’t have access to the journal, 50 free eprints are available here. I very much enjoyed this collection of essays on the history of ports and their cultural interactions, especially the way in which the book moved across a diverse variety of port cultures, while developing a core conceptual idea of “the port” throughout. There were also interesting intersections (including a shared contributor, Isaac Land) with issues raised in Sea Narratives.

More coastal connections await my reading, as Coastal Works: Cultures of the Atlantic Edge, ed. Nicholas Allen, Nick Groom and Jos Smith (OUP, 2017) has just landed in my in-tray and I’ll have a review of this out later in the year. 

Interview about Sea Narratives on New Books in Critical Theory

I was recently interviewed by Dave O’Brien of Goldsmiths University about Sea Narratives: Cultural Responses to the Sea, 1600-present for New Books in Critical Theory. The podcast is available here and can be downloaded or streamed.

What is the relationship between the sea and culture? In Sea Narratives: Cultural Responses to the Sea, 1600-Present (Palgrave, 2016) , Charlotte Mathieson, a lecturer in English Literature at the University of Surrey, assembles a new collection of essays to explore this question. The book develops the concept of a “sea narrative,” thinking through the connection between this and a variety of forms of cultural production. The essays are eclectic, but unified, reflecting the emerging interest in both the subject and the approach the book uses. The book travels across the globe as well as across the centuries since 1600, taking in French accounts of the Atlantic crossing; prisoners of war; newspaper articles; Soviet technology and propaganda; Irishness and Ireland’s sense of itself; Du Maurier’s understanding of the coast; A S Byatt’s work; the idea of the Anthropocene; and “coastal exceptionalism.” Each essay is fascinating in its own right, but the collection builds to reorientate the study of the sea for historians and literary scholars, as well as any academic interested in how we narrate and culturally produce the sea.

Many thanks to Dave for the opportunity to speak about the book.

Now published – Sea Narratives: Cultural Responses to the Sea, 1600–Present

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I am delighted to say that Sea Narratives: Cultural Responses to the Sea, 1600–Present has now been published with Palgrave Macmillan and can be purchased from the Palgrave website for £66.99 or as an ebook for £49.99; chapters can also be purchased individually. My thanks go to the contributors for their hard work on the fascinating chapters; it really was a pleasure to work on this book from start to finish.

I have written more here about the premise and contents of the book.

50% off Mobility in the Victorian Novel & Sea Narratives

My book Mobility in the Victorian Novel: Placing the Nation is currently on sale – Palgrave Macmillan have 50% off their humanities series until 18th May 2016, which means my book is available for £29.

A generous first review of the book is now up at the FWSA blog, describing it as providing “consistently excellent readings of the works in question” – thanks to Lena Wånggren for her detailed and thorough review. I will be blogging a bit more about the chapter contents soon.

Also included in the Palgrave sale is Sea Narratives: Cultural Responses to the Sea, 1600-present which is now off to print and due out soon. Reviewed by Catherine Armstrong (Loughborough University, UK) who kindly writes:

“This is an ambitious volume which, throughout the nine essays, breaks new ground by undertaking exciting cross-disciplinary theorizing, summarising the state of the study of sea narratives thus far. A strong guiding editorial hand shapes and frames the chapters, which each offer the reader a glimpse of innovative original research.” 

Sea Narratives – call for essays

Call for Papers: Edited Collection on ‘Sea Narratives’

Set in the wider context of a turn towards space and mobility, studies of the sea have come to take increasing prominence in the humanities and social sciences. This volume seeks to establish an interdisciplinary exchange on the theme of ‘sea narratives’, looking at how the sea has figured as an important site in different cultural and geographical contexts from a variety of disciplinary perspectives.

The collection will explore how humans have interacted with the sea through trade, labour, migration, leisure and exploration; how the sea has figured in national contexts as a site of geopolitical control; and how it has featured in the cultural imagination as a space of danger and the unknown, but also as a source of inspiration. Historically the sea has been a space of possibility, representing the potential of travel, exploration and trade; it has also been a site of conflict and contest, where warfare and geopolitical disputes play out. From poets such as Derek Walcott, who links the sea powerfully with colonial history, to artists such as Paul Morstad who uses old maps as canvases for fantastic creatures, the sea has inspired a range of creative responses that generate new questions about its power and possibilities.

This collection seeks to investigate these varied, contested and provocative ways in which the sea has been chronicled. Contributions are invited from disciplines including (but not limited to) geography, history, literary studies, media studies, and art history, that focus on the theme of “sea narratives” from the 1600s to the present day. The collection will span geographical locations, taking as its premise the idea that sea narratives benefit from trans-national study. The concept of ‘narratives’ is interpreted broadly, to encompass fiction, travel writing, poetry, film, documentaries, oral stories, and other historical sources.

Final essays will be 6000-8000 words in length, and first drafts will be due in November 2014. Abstracts of 300 words should be submitted by Sunday 4th May 2014. Enquiries and expressions of interest are welcome before this deadline: please contact me at c.e.mathieson@warwick.ac.uk

Coastal Cultures of the Long Nineteenth Century, University of Oxford 14th March 2014

Back in January I posted about the Sea Narratives symposium held at Warwick as part of the Travel and Mobility Studies Network, and since then I seem to have been coming across sea research in all sorts of places – one being that we have Christine Riding from the National Maritime Museum talking about Turner and the Sea at BookFest in May. I’ve also started putting together an edited collection based on the sea narratives symposium, and have begun developing some of my own work along this theme. Coastal Cultures of the Long Nineteenth Century was a welcome opportunity to hone in on the resonances of the sea in this particular period, and especially to think about the cultures and communities that forge at the meeting of land and sea.

Continue reading Coastal Cultures of the Long Nineteenth Century, University of Oxford 14th March 2014