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St Mary's Symposium Explores the Sea in Popular Culture

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On Saturday 4th June, the School of Arts and Humanities at St Mary’s University, Twickenham hosted a one-day research symposium with a nautical theme, entitled Beasts of the Deep: Sea Creatures and Popular Culture. The symposium considered representations of the sea and its inhabitants from interdisciplinary perspectives across numerous disciplines and various media and practices. The conference included presentations from researchers from numerous UK and International universities, as well as staff members from the BA Film and Screen Media, BA Media Arts and BA Philosophy programmes at St Mary’s. The symposium was opened with a keynote lecture from Dr Brigid Cherry on Mythical Sea Creatures and the Personification of Fear in Science Fiction and Horror. Covering film, television, literature and even handicrafts, the talk was a perfect introduction to the varied presentations that were to follow. Conference panels followed on Aquatic Spaces and Practices, Folklore and Weird Tales, Aquatic Desire and Screening Sea Creatures, which presented a remarkable diversity of research approaches. The conference closed with the second keynote lecture from Prof Ian Hunter of De Montfort University, entitled Nessie Has Risen from the Grave, discussing a film on the Loch Ness monster scripted for Hammer Films but never reaching the production stage. The day ended with the book launch of a young adult novel written by Senior Lecturer in Film and Screen Media at St Mary’s Dr Maria Mellins, entitled Returning Eden. Delegates were treated to a reception in the grounds of the University, with an invited ‘mermaid’ ensconced in a shell as part of the proceedings. Programme Director for Film and Screen Media Dr Jon Hackett said, “Dr Seán Harrington and I, who organised the conference, are delighted by the consistently high quality of the presentations as well as by the interest generated by the symposium.” Following an expression of interest from an academic publisher, it is hoped that the papers presented will form the basis of an edited collection on the topic in 2017. The presentations covered phenomena as disparate as film and television, Romantic and popular literature, popular music, cultural geography, subcultures, analytic philosophy and Lacanian psychoanalysis. Image courtesy of JP London
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