The Maritime Self on the American Whaleship

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (peer-reviewed)peer-review


Colleges, School and Institutes


The logbooks and diaries written and kept aboard American whaleships in the nineteenth century offer glimpses into the particular successes and frustrations of individual voyages; the vast networks these ships moved through; the way communities with other humans and with nonhuman creatures developed; and the manner in which particular individuals comprehended their own nautical existence. Situating the discussion within the recent developments in oceanic studies and working with two distinctive case studies—a diary written by a whaler of 33-years’ experience between 1865 and 1867, and another written by a six-year-old girl on her father’s whaleship between 1868 and 1871—this chapter explores the work and significance of maritime life writing. It argues that as individuals imaginatively attempted to capture and inscribe their maritime experience, they sought also to locate and articulate, or stabilise, their sense of self amidst the violence, instability, and tedium of whaling life.


Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationShipboard Literary Cultures: Reading, Writing, and Performing at Sea
EditorsSusann Liebich, Laurence Publicover
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2021