A Bibliography to the Study of Sea Literature

Explanatory note: The sources provided below are meant to assist in introductory research on North American Anglophone literature of the sea, yet this is far from comprehensive. The sources represent important and incisive foundations of the fields that I view as a jumping off point into the wide waters of the study of oceans which, thanks to such contributions, has blossomed in the last decades. Many of these sources could easily fall under numerous headings, since scholars in the study of oceans often share a collective investment in questions of environment, race, gender, class, and much more. A sampling of single-author critical essays and books are in “Further Reading” with each biographical entry.
–Alison Maas (2021)

PDF version: Feel free to download this bibliography as a .pdf.

Additional Sources and our Zotero: Searchable Sea Literature also curates the “Blue Humanities Zotero” (linked here) which includes nearly all the sources below, as well as additional scholarly books and articles. We are eager for new contributions to this Zotero collection, and/or any other input, such as if you’d like to see a particular source in the “Further Studies” of a particular author. Please contact us at rk2 [@] williams.edu.

Keywords for further research: oceanic studies; blue humanities; maritime studies; maritime literature; maritime history; environmental humanities; hydro-(power, criticism)


Oceanic Studies & Blue Humanities (field-defining texts)

Blum, Hester. “The Prospect of Oceanic Studies. PMLA, vol. 125, no. 3, May 2010, pp. 670–77. 

Blum, Hester. “Introduction: Oceanic Studies.” Atlantic Studies, vol. 10, no. 2, June 2013, pp. 151–55. 

Cohen, Margaret. “The Chronotopes of the Sea.” In The Novel, Volume 2: Forms and Themes. Edited by Franco Moretti. Princeton Univ. Press, 2006. 647–66.

Cohen, Margaret. The Novel and the Sea. Princeton Univ. Press, 2010.

Connery, Christopher. “There Was No More Sea: The Supersession of the Ocean, from the Bible to Cyberspace.” Journal of Historical Geography, vol. 32, no. 3, July 2006, pp. 494–511.

Gillis, John R. “The Blue Humanities.” HUMANITIES, vol. 34, no. 3, May/June 2013.

Mentz, Steve. “Toward a Blue Cultural Studies: The Sea, Maritime Culture, and Early Modern English Literature.” Literature Compass, vol. 6, no. 5, Sept. 2009, pp. 997–1013. 

Mentz, Steve. Ocean. Bloomsbury Academic, 2020.

Shewry, Teresa. Hope at Sea: Possible Ecologies in Oceanic Literature, Univ. Minnesota Press, 2016. 

Steinberg, Philip E. The Social Construction of the Ocean. Cambridge Univ. Press, 2001.

Steinberg, Philip, and Kimberley Peters. “Wet Ontologies, Fluid Spaces: Giving Depth to Volume through Oceanic Thinking.” Environment and Planning D: Society and Space, vol. 33, no. 2, Apr. 2015, pp. 247–64.


Special Issues & Edited Collections

Alaimo, Stacy. “Introduction: Science Studies and the Blue Humanities.” Configurations (special issue), vol. 27, no. 4, 2019, pp. 429–32. 

Allen, Nicholas, et al., editors. Coastal Works: Cultures of the Atlantic Edge. Oxford Univ. Press, 2017.

Blum, H., Eyring, M., Liang, I., & Roberts, B. R. “Introduction: Archipelagoes/Oceans/American Visuality.” Journal of Transnational American Studies, vol. 10, no. 1, 2019, pp. 5-21. 

Bystrom, Kerry, and Isabel Hofmeyr. “Oceanic Routes: (Post-It) Notes on Hydro-Colonialism.” Comparative Literature, vol. 69, no. 1, Mar. 2017, pp. 1–6.

Campbell, Alexandra, and Michael Paye editors. “World Literature and the Blue Humanities” (special issue) Humanities, vol. 9, no. 3, Sept. 2020, p. 106.

Cohen, Margaret, editor. A Cultural History of the Sea, 6 vols, Bloomsbury, 2021.

Cohen, Margaret, and Killian Quigley, editors. The Aesthetics of the Undersea. Routledge Taylor & Francis Group, 2020.

Chen, Cecilia, Janine MacLeod, and Astrida Neimanis, editors. Thinking with Water. McGill-Queens Univ. Press, 2013. 

Di Leo, Jeffrey R., editor. “Blue Humanities,” symploke, vol. 27 no. 1, 2019, pp. 7-10. 

Hessler, Stefanie, and Thyssen-Bornemisza Art Contemporary (Foundation), editors. Tidalectics: Imagining an Oceanic Worldview through Art and Science. TBA21-Academy; The MIT Press, 2018.

Jowitt, Claire, et al. The Routledge Companion to Marine and Maritime Worlds 1400-1800. Taylor & Francis Group, 2020. 

Klein, Bernhard. Fictions of the Sea: Critical Perspectives on the Ocean in British Literature and Culture. 2016.

Winkiel, Laura, editor. “Hydro-criticism.” ELN special issue, vol. 57, no. 1, 2019, pp. 1-159.

Probyn, Elspeth, Kate Johnston and Nancy Lee, editors. Sustaining Seas: Oceanic Space and the Politics of Care. Rowman & Littlefield Publishing Group, 2020.

Yaeger, Patricia, editor. PMLA, (“Oceanic Studies” special issue), vol. 125, no. 3 (May 2010).


Maritime Literary Studies (primarily North Atlantic)

Beck, Horace Palmer. Folklore and the Sea. Castle Books, 1999.

Bender, Bert. Sea-Brothers: The Tradition of American Sea Fiction from Moby-Dick to the Present. Univ. of Pennsylvania Press, 2015.

Blum, Hester. The News at the Ends of the Earth: The Print Culture of Polar Exploration. Duke Univ. Press, 2019. 

Blum, Hester. The View from the Masthead: Maritime Imagination and Antebellum American Sea Narratives. Univ. of North Carolina Press, 2008.

Foulke, Robert. The Sea Voyage Narrative. Routledge, 2017.

Peck, John. Maritime Fiction: Sailors and the Sea in British and American Novels, 1719-1917. Palgrave, 2001.

Philbrick, Thomas. James Fenimore Cooper and the Development of American Sea Fiction. Harvard Univ. Press, 2014. 

Springer, Haskell S., editor. America and the Sea: A Literary History. Univ. of Georgia Press, 1995.

Woertendyke, Gretchen J. Hemispheric Regionalism: Romance and the Geography of Genre. Oxford Univ. Press, 2016. 


The Black Atlantic & Black Studies (including Caribbean)

Benítez Rojo, Antonio. The Repeating Island: The Caribbean and the Postmodern Perspective. Translated by James Maraniss, Duke Univ. Press, 1996. 

Bennett, Joshua. “Beyond the Vomiting Dark: Toward a Black Hydropoetics.” Ecopoetics: Essays in the Field. Edited by Angela Hume and Gillian Osborn, Univ. of Iowa Press, 2018. 

Brand, Dionne. A Map to the Door of No Return: Notes to Belonging. Vintage Canada, 2001. 

Brathwaite, Kamau, and Nathaniel Mackey. ConVERSations with Nathaniel Mackey: An Evening with Nate Mackey & Kamau Brathwaite. 18 Nov. 1993. We Press: Cross-Cultural Poetics, 1999. 

Dawson, Kevin. Undercurrents of Power: Aquatic Culture in the African Diaspora. Univ. of Pennsylvania Press, 2018. 

Gilroy, Paul. The Black Atlantic: Modernity and Double Consciousness. Harvard Univ. Press, 2000.

Glissant, Édouard. Caribbean Discourse: Selected Essays. Translated by Michael Dash, Univ. Press of Virginia, 1999. 

Glissant, Édouard. Poetics of Relation. Translated by Betsy Wing. Univ. of Michigan Press, 1997.

Gumbs, Alexis Pauline. Undrowned: Black Feminist Lessons from Marine Mammals. AK Press, 2020. 

King, Tiffany Lethabo. The Black Shoals: Offshore Formations of Black and Native Studies. Duke Univ. Press, 2019.

Sharpe, Christina Elizabeth. In the Wake: On Blackness and Being. Duke Univ. Press, 2016.

Smallwood, Stephanie E. Saltwater Slavery: A Middle Passage from Africa to American Diaspora. Harvard Univ. Press, 2007.

Spillers, Hortense J. “Mama’s Baby, Papa’s Maybe: An American Grammar Book.” Diacritics, vol. 17, no. 2, 1987, pp. 64-81.

Walcott, Derek. “The Antilles: Fragments of Epic Memory” in What the Twilight Says: Essays. New York. Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 1998, pp. 65-84. 

Wardi, Janine Wardi. Water and African American Memory: An Ecocritical Perspective. Univ. Press of Florida, 2011.

Indigenous Studies

Arista, Noelani. Kingdom and the Republic: Sovereign Hawai’i and the Early United States. Univ. Pennsylvania Press, 2021.

Graham, Wade. Braided Waters: Environment and Society in Molokai, Hawaiʿi. Univ. of California Press, 2018.

Hau‘ofa, Epeli. “Our Sea of Islands.” A New Oceania: Rediscovering Our Sea of Islands. Edited by Eric Waddell, Vijay Naidu, and Epeli Hau‘ofa. Univ. of the South Pacific, BeakeHouse, 1993, pp. 2–16.

Hobart, Hiʻilei Julia. “When We Dance the Ocean, Does It Hear Us?” Special Issue of Journal of Transnational American Studies, vol. 10, no. 1, 2019, pp. 187-192.

Ingersoll, Karin E. Waves of Knowing: A Seascape Epistemology. Duke Univ. Press, 2016.

Lipman, Andrew. The Saltwater Frontier: Indians and the Contest for the American Coast. Yale Univ. Press, 2015.

Reid, Joshua L. The Sea Is My Country: The Maritime World of the Makahs, an Indigenous Borderlands People. Yale Univ. Press, 2015.

Te Punga Somerville, Alice. Once Were Pacific: Māori Connections to Oceania. Univ. of Minnesota Press, 2012.

Thrush, Coll-Peter, and William Cronon. Native Seattle: Histories from the Crossing-over Place. Second edition, Univ. of Washington Press, 2017.

Weaver, Jace. Red Atlantic: American Indigenes and the Making of the Modern World 1000-1927. Univ. of North Carolina Press, 2017. 

Whyte, Kyle Powys. “Way Beyond the Lifeboat: An Indigenous Allegory for Climate Justice.” Climate Futures: Re-Imagining Global Climate Justice. Edited by Bhavnani, Kum-Kum, et al. Zed Books, 2019.


Feminist Theory & Queer Theory

Boon, Sonja, Leslie Butler, and Daze Jeffries. Autoethnography and Feminist Theory at the Water’s Edge: Unsettled Islands. Palgrave, 2018.

Eva Hayward. “More Lessons from a Starfish: Prefixial Flesh and Transspeciated Selves.” WSQ: Women’s Studies Quarterly, vol. 36, no. 3–4, 2008, pp. 64–85.

Helmreich, Stefan. “The Genders of Waves.” WSQ: Women’s Studies Quarterly, vol. 45, no. 1–2, 2017, pp. 29–51.

Irigaray, Luce. Marine Lover of Friedrich Nietzche. Translated by Gillian C. Gill. Columbia Univ. Press, 1991.

Keller, Catherine. Face of the Deep: A Theology of Becoming. Routledge, 2003.

Neimanis, Astrida. Bodies of Water Posthuman Feminist Phenomenology. Bloomsbury Academic, 2019.

Probyn, Elspeth. Eating the Ocean. Duke Univ. Press, 2016.

Ransley, Jesse. “Boats Are for Boys: Queering Maritime Archaeology.” World Archaeology, vol. 37, no. 4, Dec. 2005, pp. 621–29.

Santana, Dora Silva. “Transitionings and Returnings: Experiments with the Poetics of Transatlantic Water.” TSQ: Transgender Studies Quarterly, vol. 4, no. 2, May 2017, pp. 181–90.

Tinsley, O. N. “Black Atlantic, Queer Atlantic: Queer Imaginings of the Middle Passage.” GLQ: A Journal of Lesbian and Gay Studies, vol. 14, no. 2–3, Jan. 2008, pp. 191–215.


Science, Technology, & Media Studies

Adler, Antony. Neptune’s Laboratory: Fantasy, Fear, and Science at Sea. Harvard Univ. Press, 2019.

Cohen, Margaret. “Underwater Optics as Symbolic Form.” French Politics, Culture & Society, vol. 32, no. 3, Dec. 2014, pp. 1–23. 

Helmreich, Stefan. Alien Ocean: Anthropological Voyages in Microbial Seas. Univ. of California Press, 2009.

Helmreich, Stefan. “Nature/Culture/Seawater.” American Anthropologist, vol. 113, no. 1, Mar. 2011, pp. 132–44.

Jue, Melody. Wild Blue Media: Thinking through Seawater. Duke Univ. Press, 2020.

Kroll, Gary. America’s Ocean Wilderness: A Cultural History of Twentieth-Century ExplorationUniv. Press of Kansas, 2008.

Pratt, Susanne, et al. “Fathom.” Environmental Humanities, vol. 12, no. 1, May 2020, pp. 173–78.

Starosielski, Nicole. The Undersea Network. Duke Univ. Press, 2015.


Ecocriticism & Environmental Humanities

Alaimo, Stacy. “States of Suspension: Trans-Corporeality at Sea.” Interdisciplinary Studies in Literature and Environment, vol. 19, no. 3, Dec. 2012, pp. 476–93. 

Alaimo, Stacy. “Oceanic Origins, Plastic Activism, and New Materialism at Sea.” Material Ecocriticism. Edited by Serenella Iovino and Serpil Oppermann. Indiana Univ. Press, 2014, pp.186–203.

Alaimo, Stacy. “The Anthropocene at Sea: Temporality, paradox, compression.” The Routledge Companion to the Environmental Humanities. Edited by Ursula K. Heise, Jon Christensen, and Michelle Niemann, Routledge, 2017, pp. 153-161.

Bakker, Justine M. “Offshore: Descending into the Blue Humanities,Counterpoint Navigating Knowledge, 6 November 2019. 

Brayton, Daniel. Shakespeare’s Ocean: An Ecocritical Exploration. Univ. of Virginia Press, 2012.

DeLoughrey, Elizabeth. “Submarine Futures of the Anthropocene.” Comparative Literature, vol. 69, no. 1, Mar. 2017, pp. 32–44. 

DeLoughrey, Elizabeth. “Toward a Critical Ocean Studies for the Anthropocene.” English Language Notes, vol. 57, no. 1, Apr. 2019, pp. 21–36.

DeLoughrey, Elizabeth M. Allegories of the Anthropocene. Duke Univ. Press, 2019.

Dobrin, Sidney I. Blue Ecocriticism and the Oceanic Imperative. Routledge, 2021.

Mentz, Steve. “After Sustainability.” PMLA, vol. 127, no. 3, May 2012, pp. 586–92.

Mentz, Steve. Shipwreck Modernity: Ecologies of Globalization, 1550-1719. Univ. of Minnesota Press, 2016.

Patton, Kimberley C. The Sea Can Wash Away All Evils: Modern Marine Pollution and the Ancient Cathartic Ocean. Columbia Univ. Press, 2007.

Somerville, Alice Te Punga. “The Great Pacific Garbage Patch as Metaphor: The (American) Pacific You Can’t See.” Archipelagic American Studies. Edited by B. R. Roberts and M. A. Stephens. Duke Univ. Press, 2017, pp. 320-40. 


Maritime and Environmental Histories

Armitage, David, Alison Bashford, Sujit Sivasundaram, editors. Oceanic Histories. Cambridge Univ. Press, 2018. 

Bolster, Jeffrey. The Mortal Sea. Harvard Univ. Press, 2014.

Creighton, Margaret S., and Lisa Norling, editors. Iron Men, Wooden Women: Gender and Seafaring in the Atlantic World, 1700-1920. Johns Hopkins Univ. Press, 1996. 

Gillis, John R., and Franziska Torma, editors. Fluid Frontiers: New Currents in Marine Environmental History. The White Horse Press, 2015.

Gillis, John R. The Human Shore: Seacoasts in History. Univ. of Chicago Press, 2012.

Huler, Scott. Defining the Wind: The Beaufort Scale, and How a Nineteenth-Century Admiral Turned Science into Poetry. Three Rivers Press, 2004.

Mowat, Farley. Sea of Slaughter. Douglas & McIntyre, 2012. 

Pastore, Christopher L. Between Land and Sea: The Atlantic Coast and the Transformation of New England. Harvard Univ. Press, 2014.

Roberts, Callum. The Unnatural History of the Sea: The Past and Future of Man and Fishing. Gaia, 2007.

Rozwadowski, Helen M. Fathoming the Ocean: The Discovery and Exploration of the Deep Sea. Harvard Univ. Press, 2008. 

Rozwadowski, Helen M. Vast Expanses: A History of the Oceans. Reaktion, 2019.

Stilgoe, John. Alongshore. Yale Univ. Press, 1994. 

Vickers, Daniel, and Vince Walsh. Young Men and the Sea: Yankee Seafarers in the Age of Sail. Yale Univ. Press, 2007.


Capitalism & Labor at Sea

Baucom, Ian. Specters of the Atlantic: Finance Capital, Slavery, and the Philosophy of History. Duke University Press, 2005. 

Campling, Liam, and Alejandro Colas. Capitalism and The Sea: The Maritime Factor in the Making of the Modern World. Verso Books, 2021.

James, C. L. R. Mariners, Renegades, and Castaways: The Story of Herman Melville and the World We Live In. Univ. Press of New England, 2001. 

Rediker, Marcus. Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea: Merchant Seamen, Pirates, and the Anglo-American Maritime World, 1700-1750. Cambridge Univ. Press, 1987.

Schell, Jennifer. “A Bold and Hardy Race of Men”: The Lives and Literature of American Whalemen. Univ. of Massachusetts Press, 2013. 



Jack, Ian, editor. “The Sea (special issue).” Granta: The Magazine of New Writing, vol. 61, Spring 1998.

Jay, Peter, and National Maritime Museum (Great Britain), editors. The Sea! The Sea! An Anthology of Poems. Anvil Press Poetry, 2005.

Lapham, Lewis H., editor. “The Sea (special issue).” Lapham’s Quarterly, vol. 6, no. 3, Summer 2013.

McClatchy, J. D., editor. Poems of the Sea. Knopf, 2001. 

Neill, Peter, editor. American Sea Writing: A Literary Anthology. Library of America, 2000.

Raban, Jonathan, editor. The Oxford Book of the Sea. Oxford Univ. Press, 1993.

Roorda, Eric. The Ocean Reader: History, Culture, PoliticsDuke Univ. Press, 2020. 

Solley, George C., and Eric Steinbaugh, editors. Moods of the Sea: Masterworks of Sea Poetry. Naval Institute Press, 1981.

Spectorsky, A.C., editors. The Book of the Sea. Grosset and Dunlap, 1954.  

Tesdell, Diana Secker. Stories of the Sea. Alfred A. Knopf: Distributed by Random House, 2010.

[end bibliography]



This bibliography greatly benefitted from the input of two peer reviewers, Steve Mentz and Alison Glassie. 

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