The Perspective from the Sea

While much recent research across the academy has focused on how the sea is viewed from the land, the shared aim of the 'Perspective from the Sea' cluster, founded in 2013, is to ask what things look like from an ‘on board’ perspective. The cluster currently includes members from Historical Studies, Archaeology and Anthropology, and English Literature, and we are keen to combine our disciplinary expertise to ask new questions about the sea and its role in shaping history and culture. Given Bristol’s strong maritime heritage, we also aim to bring our research into the local community: since 2014 we have staged a public-facing workshop at the ss Great Britain entitled 'Crossing the Line: Ritual and Superstition at Sea' and given a series of public talks on 'Being at Sea' as part of the Being Human Festival. Cluster members have also given talks at the 'British Waters and Beyond' conference at the Royal West of England Academy and participated in a two-day workshop at a local school focusing on Bristol's maritime history.

Recent activities include a project on voyage diaries ('Writing on Water'), supported by Bristol's International Strategic Fund, which has resulted in a collaboration with the 'Floating Spaces' research group at the Karl Jaspers Centre for Advanced Transcultural Studies at the University of Heidelberg. From this collaboration emerged a two-day conference, 'Maritime Literary Cultures: Reading and Writing at Sea', held at Heidelberg University in 2016. Heidelberg provided the funding for six colleagues from Bristol's Department of English and Department of Historical Studies to participate, and this workshop is likely to lead to a publication edited by Dr Laurence Publicover (Bristol) and Dr Susann Liebich (Heidelberg). Publicover has also recently organised a pair of workshops, 'The Sea, Ethics, and Conservation', sponsored by Bristol's Cabot Institute; these are bringing together scholars from the Faculty of Arts, the School of Geographical Sciences, the Faculty of Social Sciences and Law, and the School of Earth Sciences to discuss the history and the future of maritime conservation. The workshops are designed to build towards a larger project examining the role of technology in shaping our view of the sea: specifically, whether technology makes the sea more or less visible to us. 

Coordinators: Dr Tamsin Badcoe and Dr Laurence Publicover.