Saturday, May 06, 2006


Shipwreck in the Long 18th Century


National Maritime Museum
May 2006

The Wreck of the East Indiaman 'Dutton'
at Plymouth Sound, 26 January 1796
Repro ID BHC3298© NMM London

In the long 18th century, and especially in the Romantic period, shipwrecks were all too frequent events that simultaneously fascinated, excited and appalled the British population, at all levels of society. With some 5000 Britons a year dying at sea, according to one estimate in 1812, they were tragedies that touched a great many families, and that also impinged significantly on economic and strategic well-being of the nation, and of the emergent empire.

This in turn gave shipwrecks, and representations of shipwreck, considerable ideological significance. If Britannia ruled the waves, as James Thomson proclaimed in 1740, and if British maritime prowess was a mark of Providential favour, what did the shipwreck signify? And how were such traumatic events to be negotiated culturally and ideologically?

This one-day, interdisciplinary conference will address the social and personal impact of shipwreck paying particular attention to the many cultural representations that such maritime disasters gave rise to – the various written accounts of wrecks, both literary and non-literary; the visual images, in paintings, engravings and the like; the dramas and theatrical spectacles.

This one-day conference is jointly organized by the National Maritime Museum and Nottingham Trent University.

Programme details
09.00 Registration and coffee

Session 1 - Shipwrecks in high and low literary culture

09.30 'Savages, fishermen, wreckers, countrymen, show folks, mob, & c & c': shipwrecks in Georgian drama
Professor David Worrall, Nottingham Trent University

10.00 William Falconer and the literary shipwreck
Professor Bill Jones, National Institute of Continuing Education

10.30 Labouring-class poets and shipwreck
Dr Bridget Keegan, Creighton University, USA


11.00 Coffee

Session 2 - Shipwrecks in visual art

11.30 'The beautiful is horrible, the horrible is beautiful': shipwreck and romantic art
Christine Riding, Tate Britain

12.00 Shipwreck and the Black Atlantic
Dr Geoff Quilley, National Maritime Museum


12.30 Lunch in West Street, National Maritime Museum

Session 3 - Shipwreck, domesticity, gender

14.00 The female Crusoe phenomenon: women and shipwreck
Dr Carl Thompson, Nottingham Trent University

14.30 Shipwreck and naval wives, 1745–1815
Dr Margarette Lincoln, National Maritime Museum


15.00 Tea

Session 4 - Shipwreck: historical perspectives

15.30 '…the grim hell-hounds prowling round the shore…': Cornwall and the communal practice of wrecking in the long 18th century
Cathryn Pearce, University of Alaska Anchorage and Greenwich Maritime Institute

16.00 James Rennell and the cartography of shipwreck
Dr Michael Bravo, Scott Polar Institute, Cambridge University

16.30 Discussion

17.00 Reception in West Street, National Maritime Museum

19.00 Close

Booking details
To book your place on the conference, download the registration form (PDF, 18KB) Complete and return it to the address on the top of the form.

You can view and print the form using Acrobat Reader, which is free to download.
Conference dates and location
Saturday 20 May, 09.00–19.00

The conference is being held in the The Leopold Muller Lecture Theatre at the National Maritime Museum,Greenwich, London SE10 9NF.
Useful links
How to get to the Museum

Floor plan showing the location of the lecture theatre
Fees, payment and cancellation
Early registration is advised. The conference fee covers registration, refreshments, an evening wine reception, lunch and conference materials. VAT at 17.5% is included in the fee.
- Full fee: £35.00
Payment must be received in pounds sterling. Cheques should be made payable to National Maritime Museum/CONF. Payment may be made by Mastercard or Visa.

A refund of fees (less 20% administration charge) will be given, provided that notice of cancellation is received in writing on or before Monday 8 May 2006. After this date no refunds will be given. Substitutions may be made at any time, but please advise conference staff as soon as possible.

Find out more information about where details of where you can stay in Greenwich.

The University of London website has information about accommodation in central London.

For more information about the conference, please contact the Research Administrator:
Tel: 020 8312 6716
Fax: 020 8312 6592


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