The Aesthetics of the Undersea: 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

The Aesthetics of the Undersea

1st Edition

Edited by Margaret Cohen, Killian Quigley


236 pages

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pub: 2019-01-14
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Among global environments, the undersea is unique in the challenges it poses – and the opportunities it affords – for sensation, perception, inquiry, and fantasy. The Aesthetics of the Undersea draws case studies in such potencies from the subaqueous imaginings of Western culture, and from the undersea realities that have inspired them. The chapters explore aesthetic engagements with underwater worlds, and sustain a concern with submarine "sense," in several meanings of that word: when submerged, faculties and fantasies transform, confronting human subjects with their limitations while enlarging the apparent scope of possibility and invention. Terrestrially-established categories and contours shift, metamorphose, or fail altogether to apply. As ocean health acquires an increasing share of the global environmental imaginary, the histories of submarine sense manifest ever-greater importance, and offer resources for documentation as well as creativity.

The chapters deal with the sensory, material, and formal provocations of the underwater environment, and consider the consequences of such provocations for aesthetic and epistemological paradigms. Contributors, who hail from the United States, United Kingdom and Australia, include scholars of literature, art, new media, music and history. Cases studies range from baroque and rococo fantasies to the gothic, surrealism, modernism, and contemporary installation art. By juxtaposing early modern and Enlightenment contexts with matters of more recent – and indeed contemporary – importance, The Aesthetics of the Undersea establishes crucial relations among temporally remote entities, which will resonate across the environmental humanities.

Table of Contents

Introduction: Submarine Aesthetics

Margaret Cohen and Killian Quigley

  1. The Aesthetics of the Early Modern Grotto and the Advent of an Empirical Nature
  2. Luis Rodríguez Rincón

  3. The Porcellaneous Ocean: Matter and Meaning in the Rococo Undersea
  4. Killian Quigley

  5. The Logic of the Invisible: Perceiving the Submarine World in French Enlightenment Geography

  6. Hanna Roman

  7. Understanding the Loss of Colour
  8. Jonathan Lamb

  9. Hydromania: The Social History and Literary Significance of Romantic Swimming
  10. Robin Jarvis

  11. The Great Melancholy Mother: Michelet’s Evolutionary Ocean in The Sea

  12. Natalie Deam

  13. "The Forsaken Merman," "The Little Mermaid," and Early Modernism: Undersea Imagery for the Dissociation and Dissolution of Culture
  14. Samuel Baker

  15. Encountering Living Corals: A Nineteenth-Century Scientist and Artist Reveals the Underwater Realm
  16. Iain McCalman

  17. Frank Hurley and the Symbolic Underwater
  18. Ann Elias

  19. The Shipwreck of Reason: The Surrealist Diver and Modern Maritime Salvage
  20. Sean Theodora O’Hanlan

  21. The Shipwreck as Undersea Gothic
  22. Margaret Cohen

  23. Deep Time & Myriad Ecosystems: Urban Biotic Imaginaries and Unstable Planetary Aesthetics
  24. Linda Williams

  25. Siren and Silent Song: Evolution and Extinction in the Submarine

  26. Josh Wodak

  27. The Ocean Hospital – a Walk around the Ward

Janet Laurence & Prudence Gibson

About the Editors

Margaret Cohen is Andrew B. Hammond Professor of French Language, Literature, and Civilization at Stanford University, where she teaches in the Departments of Comparative Literature and English.

Killian Quigley is Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the Sydney Environment Institute at the University of Sydney

About the Series

Routledge Environmental Humanities

From microplastics in the sea to hyper-trends such as global climate change, mega-extinction, and widening social disparities and displacement, we live on a planet undergoing tremendous flux and uncertainty. At the center of this transformation is human culture, both contributing to the state of the world and responding to planetary change. The Routledge Environmental Humanities Series seeks to engage with contemporary environmental challenges through the various lenses of the humanities and to explore foundational issues in environmental justice, multicultural environmentalism, ecofeminism, environmental psychology, environmental materialities and textualities, Traditional Ecological Knowledge, environmental communication and information management, multispecies relationships, and related topics. The series is premised on the notion that the arts, humanities, and social sciences, integrated with the natural sciences, are essential to comprehensive environmental studies.

The environmental humanities are a multidimensional discipline encompassing such fields as anthropology, history, literary and media studies, philosophy, psychology, religion, sociology, and women’s and gender studies; however, the Routledge Environmental Humanities is particularly eager to receive book proposals that explicitly cross traditional disciplinary boundaries, bringing the full force of multiple perspectives to illuminate vexing and profound environmental topics. We favor manuscripts aimed at an international readership and written in a lively and accessible style. Our readers include scholars and students from across the span of environmental studies disciplines and thoughtful citizens and policy makers interested in the human dimensions of environmental change.

Please contact the Editor, Rebecca Brennan ([email protected]), to submit proposals.

Praise for A Cultural History of Climate Change (2016):

A Cultural History of Climate Change shows that the humanities are not simply a late-arriving appendage to Earth System science, to help in the work of translation. These essays offer distinctive insights into how and why humans reason and imagine their ‘weather-worlds’ (Ingold, 2010). We learn about the interpenetration of climate and culture and are prompted to think creatively about different ways in which the idea of climate change can be conceptualised and acted upon beyond merely ‘saving the planet’.

Professor Mike Hulme, King's College London, in Green Letters

Series Editors:

Professor Scott Slovic, University of Idaho, USA

Professor Joni Adamson, Arizona State University, USA

Professor YUKI Masami, Kanazawa University, Japan

Previous editors:

Professor Iain McCalman, University of Sydney Research Fellow in History; Director, Sydney University Environment Institute.

Professor Libby Robin, Fenner School of Environment and Society, Australian National University, Canberra; Guest Professor of Environmental History, Division of History of Science, Technology and Environment, Royal Institute of Technology, Stockholm Sweden.

Dr Paul Warde, Reader in Environmental History, University of Cambridge, UK

Editorial Board

Christina Alt, St Andrews University, UK, Alison Bashford, University of New South Wales, Australia, Peter Coates, University of Bristol, UK, Thom van Dooren, University of New South Wales, Australia, Georgina Endfield, Liverpool UK, Jodi Frawley, University of Western Australia, Andrea Gaynor, The University of Western Australia, Australia, Christina Gerhardt, University of Hawai'i at Mānoa, USA,□Tom Lynch, University of Nebraska, Lincoln, USA, Jennifer Newell, Australian Museum, Sydney, Australia , Simon Pooley, Imperial College London, UK, Sandra Swart, Stellenbosch University, South Africa, Ann Waltner, University of Minnesota, US, Jessica Weir, University of Western Sydney, Australia

International Advisory Board

William Beinart,University of Oxford, UK, Jane Carruthers, University of South Africa, Pretoria, South Africa, Dipesh Chakrabarty, University of Chicago, USA, Paul Holm, Trinity College, Dublin, Republic of Ireland, Shen Hou, Renmin University of China, Beijing, Rob Nixon, Princeton University, USA, Pauline Phemister, Institute of Advanced Studies in the Humanities, University of Edinburgh, UK, Sverker Sörlin, KTH Environmental Humanities Laboratory, Royal Institute of Technology, Stockholm, Sweden, Helmuth Trischler, Deutsches Museum, Munich and Co-Director, Rachel Carson Centre, LMU Munich University, Germany, Mary Evelyn Tucker, Yale University, USA, Kirsten Wehner, University of London, UK

Learn more…

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
NATURE / Ecology