Round Table Discussion: Sea Journeys

Myth Reading Group

Round Table

Thursday 23 February

12.00-1.30pm in Room NTC.2.06


J. M. W. Turner, A Disaster at Sea (c. 1833-35), Tate, London

Our next session will be a round table discussion on the topic of sea journeys. Sharing links with last term’s theme of Mythscapes, our focus on sea journeys or sea crossings is aimed at exploring the mythical dimension of the sea. In Greek culture, for instance, the sea can be interpreted as a liminal space, located between real or imagined landscapes “the earth, the Underworld, and Olympus”, and negotiating “between the worlds of the living, the dead, and the gods” (Marie-Claire Beaulieu, The Sea in the Greek Imagination, University of Pennsylvania Press, 2016).

The liminality of the sea is also reflected in its many attributes, and rendered in the subtle tension between a sense of hope, abundance, and beauty, and a glimpse of horror and fear of the unknown.

We would like to invite you to send suggestions for extracts to be discussed at the round table. Please email texts or images to

We may consider the following questions:

  • In what ways is the sea mythic?
  • How is the sea presented as mythic in literary texts and art?
  • How are sea journeys interpreted and ‘translated’ across cultures and media?
  • What is the significance of the sea-shore in mythical landscapes?

As a way of starting our discussion, please read an extract from Moby Dick, provided by Dr Leon Burnett, further selections  from Julian Barnes’s A History of the World in 10 1/2 Chapters, from The Bible, and from D.H.Lawrence’s ‘The Ship of Death‘. I will upload new extracts from now until Wednesday evening (22 February), so we can have a good range of texts or images to discuss at our session.


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