This blog looks at maritime history from a different perspective. A ship is not just a ship. The sea is not just the sea.
Using a cultural studies approach, this blog explores the impact of women, LGBT people, working-class people and people from a range of ethnic backgrounds, on the sea and shipping.
And it questions the ways that the sea and ships in turn affect such people's lives and mobility.
And there's lots of ambiguity about cabin boys in such songs, which may have been away to talk aceptably about gay sex with young men. (See pic left).
Women are never usually the robust singers of shanties, which were devised to assist manual labour such as heaving heavy sails up high masts. Shanties are not about what you might call 'feminine' subjects, more about ships, far-off ports, muses and whores.
But I'll be exploring how modern female landlubbers appropriate worksongs and images of the sea in a workshop at the Raise Your Banners festival, Bradford, on Sunday Nov 8. 'Taking the shanties off the sailorboys' will include discussions of such songs as Sisters Unlimited's 'Childbirth's no bed of roses.'