Professor Josiah Blackmore, Harvard University
Alumni Hall, Old Vic, 73 Queen’s Park Crescent East
The sea has surrounded people, countries, and civilizations throughout time. It has provided food, threatened destruction, and carried daring travelers into other worlds of languages, climates, and wonders. The sea invades the senses of beachcombers, mariners, and of those who live by or travel on it. This lecture takes a journey through literary evocations of and engagements with the sea and seascapes, and ponders how individuals and cultures listen to the sea. In this voyage, we will hear oceanic voices that sometimes become indistinguishable from the authors who record them. Using the writings of the seaside and seaborne nation of Portugal from the early Middle Ages to later centuries, this listener’s odyssey will gather together human artists, gods of mythology, and monsters of the deep.
Josiah Blackmore is the Nancy Clark Smith Professor of the Language and Literature of Portugal at Harvard University. From 1992 to 2013 he taught in the Dept. of Spanish and Portuguese at the University of Toronto, and has been visiting professor at Harvard and the Univ. of Chicago and visiting scholar at the University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa. His research focuses on all aspects of medieval and early modern Portugal, especially the writings and culture of maritime expansion, medieval poetry, and the dramatic semantics of shipwreck and oceanic peril. Among his books are Manifest Perdition: Shipwreck Narrative and the Disruption of Empire (2002), Moorings: Portuguese Expansion and the Writing of Africa (2009), and the forthcoming The Inner Ship.