Table Topic: “Animals at Sea and Underwater Worlds”
At the table “Animals at Sea and Underwater Worlds”, Laurence Publicover and Felix Lüttge will discuss with you about submarines, fishing lines and maybe even “The Meg” – read their table statement here:
The deep sea is frequently regarded as a radically alien space – as a site that is less well understood and mapped than the surface of the moon, or even Venus. It is frequently figured in terms of its ‘timelessness’, or even imagined – as in the recent blockbuster “The Meg” – as a portal to the past. And yet, the deep sea is not a site divorced from human action. Albeit often by proxy, humans have a long history there: fathom lines have long penetrated the sea’s depths, as have fishing lines, submarines and other submersibles, and deep-sea cables. We have drilled into the seabed for oil, and over the next few decades are likely to mine the seabed for gold and copper, in the process endangering the complex ecosystems around which such materials gather. Scientists and amateurs have found ways to study and recreate inaccessible underwater worlds and habitats with aquariums, maps, and data collection long before the age of submarines and underwater filming. This table examines the history of human interactions with and interpretations of the deep sea, while also considering our future relationship to it. It is especially concerned with human/animal encounters in the deep sea and at sea more generally: the ways in which humans exploit and interact with marine creatures, how terrestrial creatures are transported in ships across the oceans, and how the ocean is brought to land.
Felix Lüttge is a postdoctoral research associate (Wissenschaftlicher Assistent) in the Department of Media Studies at the University of Basel. His research focusses on the media history of knowledge and science and on the history and theory of the milieu and the environment. He is currently preparing a book about the history of whales as epistemic objects in nineteenth century biology and oceanography.
Dr Laurence Publicover is Senior Lecturer in English at the University of Bristol, UK. He is the author of Dramatic Geography (Oxford University Press, 2017) and of several articles on English Renaissance drama, maritime culture, and their intersection. His current research explores human encounters with the deep sea both literal and imaginative.