Beasts of the Deep

Beasts of the Deep

Sea Creatures and Popular Culture
Edited by Jon Hackett and Seán Harrington
Distribution: Global
Publication date: 01/10/2018
Format: Paperback 17 b&w illus.
ISBN: 978-0-861-96733-9
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Beasts of the Deep: Sea Creatures and Popular Culture offers its readers an in-depth and interdisciplinary engagement with the sea and its monstrous inhabitants; through critical readings of folklore, weird fiction, film, music, radio and digital games.

Within the text there are a multitude of convergent critical perspectives used to engage and explore fictional and real monsters of the sea in media and folklore. The collection features chapters from a variety of academic perspectives; post- modernism, psychoanalysis, industrial-organisational analysis, fandom studies, sociology and philosophy are featured. Under examination are a wide range of narratives and media forms that represent, reimagine and create the Kraken, mermaids, giant sharks, sea draugrs and even the weird creatures of H.P. Lovecraft.

Beasts of the Deep offers an expansive study of our sea-born fears and anxieties, that are crystallised in a variety of monstrous forms. Repeatedly the chapters in the collection encounter the contemporary relevance of our fears of the sea and its inhabitants – through the dehumanising media depictions of refugees in the Mediterranean to the encroaching ecological disasters of global warming, pollution and the threat of mass marine extinction.

Author Bio

Dr Jon Hackett is a senior lecturer in film and screen media at St Mary’s University. His research interests include film and cultural theory, film history and popular music. He is currently working on a monograph with Dr Mark Duffett of Chester University on popular music and monstrosity, to be entitled, inevitably, Scary Monsters.
Dr Seán J. Harrington is a lecturer in film and screen media at St Mary’s University. His research interests include Lacanian psychoanalysis, animation and popular culture. He has previously published work on animation and psychoanalytic theory and is the author of The Disney Fetish.


“As a compilation of fourteen conference papers turned into a tastefully illustrated tome, this deep sea probe is for anyone fascinated with maritime lore—a lore that reflects anxieties about life on land and what lies beneath the water’s surface as well as our own.”
 — Western Folklore

“Overall, this book is a fascinating and well-curated overview of the different ways in which to examine and understand the monstrosity of the sea and its creatures. Through very engaging research and its use of illustrations, the book is very approachable and enjoyable. But perhaps its most salient aspect, beyond the quality of its content, is the volume’s ability to be multidisciplinary from a reader’s and author’s perspective.”
 — Journal of Folklore Research

Beasts of the Deep offers entertaining and enlightening reading on a fascinating topic.”
 — Journal of American Culture

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Table of Contents

Part 1: Folklore and Weird Tales
"From Beneath the Waves": Sea-Draugr and the Popular Conscience – Alexander Hay
The Depths of our Experience: Thalassophobia and the Lovecraftian Horror – Seán J. Harrington
From Depths of Terror to Depths of Wonder: The Sublime in Lovecraft’s Call of Cthulhu and Cameron’s The Abyss – Vivan Joseph
"Is there sound in the deep?": Representation and resonance in radio dramatisations of The Kraken Wakes – Farokh Soltani
Part 2: Depths of Desire
Beauty and the Octopus: Cephalopods as Sexualized Monsters – Marco Carbone
The Octopussy: Exploring Representations of Female Sexuality and Animality in Victor Hugo’s The Toilers of the Sea (1866) and The Laughing Man (1868) – Laura Ettenfield
Transformations of Desire in The Life Aquatic (2004) – Pete Fossey
Psychedelic Deep Blues: Jimi Hendrix’s, 1983 (A Merman I Should Turn to be) (1968), Tim Buckley’s, Song of the Siren (1968) and Captain Beefheart’s, Grow Fins (1972) – Richard Mills
Part 3: Aquatic Spaces and Practices
Fan Totems: Affective Investments in the Sea Creatures of Horror and Science Fiction – Brigid Cherry
Mermaid Spotting: the rise of mermaiding in popular culture – Maria Mellins
Journeys in Liquid Space: Representations of the Sea in Disney Theme Parks– Lee Brooks
Rivers of blood, Sea of bodies: An analysis of recent media coverage of migration and trafficking on the High Seas – Carole Murphy
Part 4: Screening Sea Creatures
Becoming the Shark and/vs. Controlling the Shark: Jaws Unleashed, the Animal Avatar, and Human-Animal Relationships – Michael Fuchs
Songs of the Sea: Sea Beasts and Maritime Folklore in Global Animation – Mark Fryers
Jurassic World’s Mosasaurus as the saviour of the classic cinema blockbuster – Damian O’Byrne
Nessie Has Risen from the Grave – Ian Hunter