Sea Monsters Talks
On the occasion of our summer exhibition Sea Monsters! the Scottish Maritime Museum brings together two researchers to deliver an afternoon of talks on maritime folklore, myths and monsters from Scotland and beyond.
Shelby Judge and Adam Flynn will deliver a talk each looking at the weird and eerie sea monsters of Scotland, Denmark, Greece and Japan.
Shelby Judge will deliver a talk titled “Here be monsters!” Sea Monsters of Scottish Folklore and Beyond. She will present some of the most interesting myths and legends of sea monsters. The talk will focus particularly on Scottish Folklore, including selkies, kelpies and, as a matter of course, the Loch Ness Monster. The presentation will also look beyond Scottish myths and legends, highlighting interesting sea monsters in other myth systems, such as the Sirens, Scylla and Charybdis of Greek myth, and the Umibōzu of Japanese myth. Shelby will also draw out the symbolism necessary to understanding these myths. What did they symbolise? What do they tell us about the cultures and anxieties of the people who told these myths?
Adam Flynn will deliver a talk titled Picturing the Wonders of the Deep: Sea Monsters in Early Modern Europe. The discussion will revolve around a single, supremely odd creature: the so-called Sea Monk, purportedly sighted off the coast of Denmark in 1546, bearing a humanoid head, a scaled body in the shape of a monastic habit, and a large pair of tentacles in place of arms. It was first described in a 1553 text by the French naturalist Pierre Belon, and thereafter figured prominently in a number of early modern printed works, including prodigy and wonder books, medical treatises, and popular broadsides. The focus of the talk will therefore be on tracing the complex textual and visual history of the Sea Monk, and considering the material in relation to different audiences and other contemporary accounts of monstrous sea creatures, wondrous animals, and unusual human births. Finally, it will venture some tentative answers to the complex question of what reality – if indeed any – lay behind this strange, half-human, half-fish, being.
Shelby Judge has completed her PhD in English Literature at the University of Glasgow. Her thesis topic is “Contemporary Feminist Adaptations of Greek Myth”. In this thesis, Shelby researched the current trend of women writers retelling Greek myths and what this illuminates about current concerns within feminism. Shelby’s overarching research interests are in feminist and queer theory and contemporary British and North American women’s fiction. She has published articles on the literature of Ali Smith, Jennifer Saint, and Carol Ann Duffy. She has publications forthcoming on the instapoetry of Nikita Gill, #MeToo and the Trojan War, and Margaret Atwood’s anthology ‘Dearly’. She also runs a research-related blog: TheShelbiad.blogspot.com. You can find Shelby on Twitter @judgeyxo and Instagram @shelbyjudge
Adam Flynn recently received a PhD in History of Art from the University of Glasgow. His doctoral thesis addressed the paradoxical realism of monsters in early modern printed images. He has delivered a public talk on the concept of monstrosity in sixteenth- and seventeenth-century Europe at the Hunterian Museum, Glasgow, and held research positions at Summerlee Museum of Scottish Industrial Life and Glasgow University Special Collections.
Image credit: James Gillray, Britannia between Scylla and Charybdis, 1793
This event was re-scheduled from the 20th August due to the train strike