Before the eighteenth century, the ocean was regarded as a repulsive and chaotic deep. Despite reinvention as a zone of wonder and pleasure, it continued to be viewed in the West and elsewhere as ’uninhabited’, empty space. This collection, spanning the eighteenth century to the present, recasts the ocean as ’social space’, with particular reference to visual representations. Part I focuses on mappings and crossings, showing how the ocean may function as a liminal space between places and cultures but also connects and imbricates them. Part II considers ships as microcosmic societies, shaped for example by the purpose of the voyage, the mores of shipboard life, and cross-cultural encounters. Part III analyses narratives accreted to wrecks and rafts, what has sunk or floats perilously, and discusses attempts to recuperate plastic flotsam. Part IV plumbs ocean depths to consider how underwater creatures have been depicted in relation to emergent disciplines of natural history and museology, how mermaids have been reimagined as a metaphor of feminist transformation, and how the symbolism of coral is deployed by contemporary artists. This engaging and erudite volume will interest a range of scholars in humanities and social sciences, including art and cultural historians, cultural geographers, and historians of empire, travel, and tourism.
'Tricia Cusack’s edited volume, Framing the Ocean is a thoughtful, richly detailed, and engagingly organized series of essays on the unique confluences between oceanic studies and the history of the visual arts. The range of subjects is exemplary: Romantic oceanscapes, shipwrecks, and travel narratives, yes, but also Indian Ocean dhows and mutineer typologies. Literature, painting, and sculpture link together iconographic studies of ocean liners and plastic pollution, natural histories, and coral collections, all rendered with ingenious scholarly imagination.' Matt K. Matsuda, Rutgers University, author of Pacific Worlds
'This is an important collection of essays, from an impressive international array of scholars and artists. It embodies the latest thinking on the recent cultural history of the ocean, a subject of growing academic and general interest. The essays are lucid, accessible and imaginative, and the volume as a whole is well-balanced and clearly organized.' Christiana Payne, Professor of History of Art, Oxford Brookes University
'… a stellar contribution from a galaxy of well-placed international scholars to a developing literature about the oceans as an historical, cultural and social phenomenon.' John Mack, Chairman, The Sainsbury Institute for Art; Professor, School of Art History and World Art Studies, University of East Anglia
'This engaging and erudite volume will interest a range of scholars in humanities and social sciences, including art and cultural historians, cultural geographers, and historians of empire, travel, and tourism.' Irish Arts Review
'The essays in Cusack's collection Framing the Ocean, 1700 to the Present are commendable for advancing the reclamation of social history and human culture from the narrower dominions of both marine biologists and antiquarian pirate enthusiasts. Ocean culture is at once varied and pervasive, and we have been shaped by, and now shape, the ocean realm.' Bulletin of the Pacific Circle