Just a couple of broad points for us to think about on Tues when we discuss “blue humanities” or the “new thalassology” or whatever we’d like to call it.
1. Natural Disorder and Literary Form: In both the oceanic and non-oceanic elements of my work on nature, I’m interested in contrasting the disorder of the natural world (and the environment-human culture relationship) with the kind of order — provisional, of course — that literary form provides.
Prospero’s “revels now are ended” speech might be relevant here.
2. Historicism and Anachronism: In early modern studies (and, I believe, other areas of literary studies as well), much research in recent decades has been historicist in a comprehensive and horizontal sense: scholars immerse themselves in the culture & habits of thought of one particular age. Part of what At the Bottom of Shakespeare’s Ocean and the Shakespeare Now! series of which it’s part tries to do is open up this closed historicist circle & ask Shakespeare to speak directly to 21c questions and concerns. There are lots of risks involved in this sort of thing; sometimes it doesn’t work; and I think that a deep historicism is part of this project. But I also want to talk on Tues night about the blindfolds that history puts on us.
The passage in The Tempest that might be relevant here is Miranda’s recollection of her mother, in the “dark backward and abysm of time” in 1.2.