CFP Reminder: Coastal Cultures of the Long Nineteenth Century

CFP: Coastal Cultures of the Long Nineteenth Century
14 and 15 March 2014
English Faculty, University of Oxford

Speakers secured include Kate Flint, Margaret Cohen, Rosemary Ashton, Valentine Cunningham, Fiona Stafford, Christiana Payne, Roger Ebbatson, Mina Gorji, and Nick Freeman.

We would like to alert you to our conference, which will explore the diversity of experiences dependent on the coasts in in the long nineteenth century. The years between the naval blockade of 1775, which began the American War, and the start of the First World War in 1914 witnessed a dramatic expansion of uses for and understandings of the coast, on both sides of the Atlantic and elsewhere. Prior to the second half of the eighteenth century, coasts tended to be thought of as unhealthy, dangerous places. Developments in both medicine and aesthetics changed this. Over the course of the nineteenth century, the coast increasingly developed a multiplicity of meaning that makes it a particularly interesting object of study, related to but also different from spaces such as the sea or the ship. The coast could seem to be at once a space of clarity and misty distance, a terminus or breaking-off point, and a place of embarkation—a place of solitude and exhilaration, of uselessness and instrumentality. Coasts offered opportunities for convalescence, but also for sublime abandon, for the eking out of a fixed income in old age, but also for reckless gambling, for showing off and also retiring from public view. ‘Coastal Cultures’ will address how coasts were figured and experienced during the long nineteenth century, and explore the ways in which the period was importantly shaped and defined by coastal encounters. We invite papers that fit into every conceivable part of this complex web of coastal stories, and welcome proposals from PhD and early career applicants, as well as more established academics. Topics might include:

  • Aesthetics of the coast: the sublime; the everyday
  • Convalescence and medicine: the coastal health resort
  • Science and the coast: geology, microscopy, the aquarium
  • Technology and the coast: the steam-boat; telegraphy; diving suits
  • Coastal musicology: from Fingal’s Cave to A Sea Symphony
  • The coast and the visual arts: ‘coastscape’; artistic colonies
  • Coastal mythologies: Fingal, Jesus in Penzance
  • Sunken cities: Lyonesse: Dunwich; Savannah-la-Mar; Cantre’r Gwaelod; Ys
  • Island nation and its limits: migration; transnationality; spies
  • Working coasts: fishing; mining; quarrying; smuggling; wrecking

To complement the conference there will be a specially curated maritime-themed song recital, with professional singers from the Guildhall School for Music, introduced by musicologist and concert pianist Ceri Owen. The programme will draw together settings of poems about the sea and the coasts by poets such as Whitman, Barrett Browning, and Newbolt, by composers such as Elgar, Stanford and Vaughan Williams.

Please send 200 word abstracts for a 20 minute paper by December 20th 2013, along with a brief biography, to Dr. Matthew Ingleby (UCL) and Dr. Matthew Kerr (Oxford) at


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