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CFP: Special issue of “Gothic Studies” on the topic of Nautical Gothic (5/30/2016; 11/30/2016)


Proposals are sought for a special issue of Gothic Studies on the topic of Nautical Gothic.

From the earliest sea journeys, the challenges of coastal and ocean travel have rendered the sea liminal. Vessels at sea existed between landmasses, nations, and political systems, while limits of communication, high incidence of shipwreck, and vagaries of weather and navigation meant that to be at sea was, figuratively, to exist between life and death, especially from the point of view of those on land. The sea was, and is, a realm of mystery; its inaccessible depths and the workings of its global systems resist human mastery. As a means of travel, exploration, warfare, trade and imperial expansion, the sea’s historical and cultural importance for maritime nations has long been reflected in their literature and art.

From ghost ship legends to "The Rime of the Ancient Mariner," from The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket and Moby Dick to "Jaws" and "The Abyss," Gothic tropes permeate texts engaging with the distinct symbolic and narrative possibilities of the sea. Nevertheless, rarely in criticism are the two put together; Gothic works that do are usually studied from perspectives that deemphasize the role of the sea in the text’s construction and effects. This special issue seeks to redress this imbalance by proposing a ‘Nautical Gothic’ lens through which to re-examine familiar Gothic texts and explore the Gothic potentials of sea fictions, films, and other cultural artefacts.

Focusing on texts deriving from different latitudes and times globally, this special issue aims to explore questions such as the following: is there a kind of writing one can call Nautical Gothic, and if so what characterizes it? How does Nautical Gothic relate to the spread of Gothic through the world? How do these maritime narratives contribute to the migration of the Gothic to other contexts? What might a theory of Nautical Gothic criticism bring to the study of the Gothic in general?

As a result, this special issue encourages new academic research and discussion of Nautical Gothic through studying its presence globally in literature, film, and other narrative and cultural phenomena connected to the Gothic world.

Possible topics might include, but are not limited to:

  • Haunted seas; ghost ships and ghost sailors
  • Shipwrecks and castaways; carceral waters, ships and islands
  • Sea monsters; monstrous seas
  • Oceans of the mind; psychological seas
  • Gothic weather: violent storms and oppressive calms
  • The sea as liminal space; the sea as (an)other world
  • The sea or its coasts as sublime
  • Masculinity, femininity, and the sea
  • The ocean and travel, trade, diaspora, transportation, or exploration
  • Empire, postcolonialism, globalisation
  • Ecogothic; marine ecology
  • Gothic technologies of sailing
  • Naval warfare and piracy
  • The sea in myth, legend and folklore
  • Please send a proposal of about 500 words, for articles of 3000-7000 words, and a short biography, to em.alder@napier.ac.uk and antonio.alcala@itesm.mx, by 30 May 2016. Contributors can expect to be selected and notified by Friday 17th June 2016. The deadline for submission of completed articles is 30 November 2016.

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