Floating About Maritime History

Floating About Maritime History

By Michael Bender

This important collection of papers examines the state of maritime history and maritime history research. Such an examination is timely, as maritime history is becoming increasingly marginal in the teaching and research of university history departments.

Dr Bender is a leading yachting historian, whose A New History of Yachting, the product of twelve years study and writing, was published by Boydell and Brewer in 2017. He is a Honorary Research Fellow in the Department of History at the University of Exeter and has published extensively on maritime history, especially concerning  its literature.

The book starts with a critique of maritime history research, arguing that much of its downfall has been self-inflicted, as it became overly  focussed on the de-contextualised glorification of naval battles of long ago. Rather, maritime history should be concerned with all forms of use of the sea, from paddling on the beach to nuclear submarines, and with a time frame that moves back to the pre-literate and includes marine archaeology and forward to studying the present.

It then focusses on the re-writing of the boundaries and the content of maritime history, making it a much more relevant and exciting field of study for the prospective student.

For this to be achieved, there needs to be a community of scholars sharing their work and ideas. The last paper is an examination of how the university system is inducing fear and poverty among those seeking an academic career. By encouraging individual achievement at the expense of the sharing of knowledge, the system is gradually killing creative research. Given the rational fear of academics at speaking out, this is a particularly important contribution to the debate.

Even before publication of this collection, the publication of the first paper was part of the inspiration for  the Society of Nautical Research to call a conference on the future of Maritime History Research. These papers, put together for the first time, define a paradigm shift for maritime history. In order to expedite as wide a readership as possible, Bee’s Wing has deliberately kept the price low.

ISBN 978-0-9576087-3-3

Price £6.50 plus £1.50 for P&P

E-book: ISBN 978-0-9576087-4-0

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