The Aesthetics of the Undersea  book cover
1st Edition

The Aesthetics of the Undersea

ISBN 9780367001582
Published January 14, 2019 by Routledge
236 Pages

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Book Description

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

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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