February 27, 2024
Annapolis, US 58 F

WEDNESDAY: Profs and Pints–Sea Shanties

Sailing in and out of Annapolis can be such a pleasure that it’s easy to forget it was once hard work. The sailors aboard the tall ships that once plied local waters could be at sea for months at a time, and their work was often difficult and dangerous. To lift their spirits while coordinating the pulling, pushing, and lifting that came with their jobs, they often broke into sea shanties, which were work songs associated with specific sailing tasks.  

Prepare for an evening of salty humor and high-seas adventure as Profs and Pints bring Annapolis a lesson on the history of sea shanties, their meaning, and what they reveal about the lives of those who sang them. Jessica M. Floyd, a scholar of sea shanties during the Great Age of Sail, is coming to the Graduate Annapolis Hotel’s Trophy Room bar and restaurant on June 28th with a talk on sea shanties that is sure to both inform and entertain. Sailors at port could only hope to have as much fun.

Your captain on this scholarly voyage will be Jessica Floyd, an associate professor of English at the Community College of Baltimore County who has extensively researched and analyzed sea shanties, especially those sung during the period from 1500 to 1860. She’ll discuss their history, what they tell us about relations aboard ships and the culture of the time when they were sung, and how they’re fascinating cultural objects through which we can encounter sensations of frustration, longing, and desire.

She’ll describe how authentic shanties were a genre unique to the merchant sailing man during the Great Age of Sail, and she’ll teach us how to differentiate shanties from drinking songs and pirate tunes. Shanties were sung as work songs of the sea in connection with specific tasks. They were complex and often provocative.

To help us better understand what shanties communicate, Professor Floyd will analyze the narratives of popular shanty tunes, looking at what they say about the sailors’ identity. You’ll hear the lyrics of “Barnacle Bill” or the phrase “Yo, ho, ho and a bottle of rum” in an entirely new light.

Finally, she’ll examine why shanties experienced such a revival during the pandemic. You’ll gain an appreciation of not only their enduring quality but how they attach to specific human experiences.

DETAILS: Wednesday, June 28, 2023 at 5:30 pm. Advance tickets: $13.50 plus sales tax and processing fees. Doors: $17 or $15 with a student ID. The listed time is for doors. The talk starts 30 minutes later. Please allow yourself time to place any orders and get seated and settled in.

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