CFP: Beasts of the Deep: Sea Creatures and Popular Culture

Printable version Thursday 04 February 2016 Last updated at 17:52


Proposals are invited for an interdisciplinary symposium at St Mary’s University, Twickenham, which will explore representations of the sea and sea creatures within popular culture. The one-day conference on Saturday 4 June 2016 will feature keynotes from Professor Ian Hunter (De Montfort University) and Dr Brigid Cherry.

Taking place in the drawing room of Horace Walpole’s Gothic mansion in Strawberry Hill, this symposium will discuss the sea as context, nautical horrors and sea creatures. Crossing national and social boundaries, the sea offers an ultimate, primordial realm. Whether it be the archaic roots of our evolution, the bread bowl of civilisation or the den of the unknown, the deep sea exerts a powerful influence on our conscious and unconscious lives. Into this abyss we project our fears and anxieties, which return to us as monstrous and uncanny figures that populate the films, songs and mythologies that utilise the sea as subject and context. At its most particular, a focus on the sea in popular culture invites us to consider medium specificity: how the formal aspects of media are utilised to represent the liquid realm. At its most general, the sea is a repository of myths, fantasies and archetypes on which popular culture might draw.

Submissions from perspectives on gender studies, horror auteurs and national horror cinemas, fandom and audiences will be particularly encouraged. The symposium organisers will compile selected papers with a view to publishing an edited collection, following interest from an academic publisher.

We are casting our net wide; topics might address, but are not limited to:

  • ·Representations of the sea as monstrous entity
  • ·Transnational waters and the mediation of refugees 
  • ·Nautical horror film
  • ·Creature features
  • ·Documentary and ethnographic film: sea creatures from Jacques Cousteau to Leviathan(Lucien Castaing-Taylor & Véréna Paravel, 2012)
  • ·Experimental film and the aquatic
  • ·The sea in popular music
  • ·Aquatic monsters in Doctor Who
  • ·Sea creatures in Disney
  • ·Anime sea beasts and tentacles
  • ·Sea creatures in PSB: BBC natural history as emblem of cultural value
  • ·Cultural theory and Cthulhu: from Gothic to Speculative Realism
  • ·Nautical Deleuze: between liquid perception and the impulse-image
  • ·The sea in new media – in digital and other games
  • ·Mermaid cultures: fan and online cultures, cosplay
  • ·Ecocriticism, ecocatastrophe and the sea

Submit a maximum 500-word abstract by Thursday 14 April 2016 to:

Dr Jon Hackett:

Dr Sean Harrington:

School of Arts and Humanities

St Mary's University

Twickenham, London

Waldegrave Road, Twickenham, London TW1 4SX



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