Wednesday 19 October 2016

Book now for the Maritime Masculinities conference, December

It's now possible to register for the Maritime Masculinities, 1815-1940 conference at Oxford Brookes, Dec 18-20, 2016. (price £70.)
Above - the conference's official icon and my subverted version of it. (Photoshopped version courtesy of John Blakeborough)

Key speakers are:

Dr Mary Conley, College of the Holy Cross, USA

Prof. Joanne Begiato, Oxford Brookes University. See her blog item:

Dr Isaac Land, Indiana State University, USA

What's the conference about?

"Whilst much has been written about masculinity in the maritime sphere in the eighteenth century, rather less work has been carried out on this domain of research in the nineteenth and the first half of the twentieth century; a period that saw significant changes in both areas.

The period from 1815 – 1940 saw the demise of the sail ship, and the rise of the machine-driven steam, and then oil-powered ships. It began as a period of both naval and maritime supremacy for Britain, which was subsequently eroded during two world wars. After a century of frequent naval warfare, there was the advent of the Pax Britannica, and the phenomenon of navies which barely fought. Moreover, popular navalism emerged in advertising, pageantry, and popular literature, and was the subject of photography and then film.

Cultural ideals of masculinities also underwent considerable shifts in a period that in civilian life advocated differing styles of manliness including Christian manliness, muscular Christianity, and the domestic man ...

The armed forces deployed tropes of masculinity such as bravery, stoicism, and endurance to the extent that military and maritime models of manliness were held up as aspirational models for all men.

Such an immense array of changes shaped perceptions and representations of masculinity within maritime spheres and beyond. This conference seeks to analyse how such changes influenced change and continuity in popular understandings of masculine identity, manliness, and the seafarer."
( Icon of rugged maritime masculinity: the front page image used in the National Union of Seamen's journal from the 1910s to 1930s.)

(Passenger ships as sites of decadent and fun campery, not the required muscular stoicism of warships: image from Frizons exhibition, Stockholm Maritime Museum)

Conference themes include

~ The effect of technological change, eliminating the skill of sailing, but necessitating the engineer
~ The end of a century of war, the transition to civilian life and the phenomenon of the non-combative sailor
~ The growth of maritime empires, and cultural contact with indigenous peoples
~ The maritime man in material culture, fashion, advertising and the press
~ Exploration and heroism
~ Photography, art, and film
~ Fiction, theatre, and music
~ Sailors in port and at home
~ Dockyards and shipbuilding
~ Heritage, memory, and museums

Who's organising it?
The Department of History, Philosophy & Religion, Oxford Brookes University, and the Port Towns and Urban Cultures group, University of Portsmouth

And my own involvement? I will be there as an attendee, not a speaker. But people interested in my take on the subject may like to know
~ You can read more on maritime femininity/masculinity on this blog, including my discussion of last night's opening performance of Billy Budd, starring the half-Jamaican Roderick Williams as the beloved, vocally inarticulate, sailor who's wrongly punished. (See pic, courtesy of Opera North)
~ To understand the Merchant Navy (as opposed to Royal Navy) including camp subversions of masculinity and M-to-F seafarers transitioning, try the book I wrote with Paul Baker, Hello Sailor. Or see the Liverpool exhibition Hello Sailor (main publicity image pictured):
~ I have an historic postcard collection of sailors, representing the archetypal Jack Tar as heterosexual lover/consumer of sex, etc (1900-1950). Such images can still be found on ebay using the search term 'sailor, love' and 'navy, girl'. Proudly being unfaithful is seemingly part of being a heroic naval man: see below.
"We've but to make love to the lips we are near."
It reminds me of the song 'if you can't be with the one you love, love the one you are with'. I hope you like his erect oar and the two colours of her roses.

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