Advance ticket sales have ended but plenty of additional tickets remain available at the door.
Profs and Pints Northern Virginia presents: “The Tale of Sea Shanties,” with Jessica M. Floyd, scholar of sea shanties during the Great Age of Sail.
Climb aboard with Profs and Pints and spend a Sunday afternoon enjoying a rollicking look at the songs that sailors sang while working at sea. You’ll gain a newfound understanding of the rich history of songs sung by working sailors and of the lives those sailors led.
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. Being work songs of the sea, shanties were sung in connection with specific tasks. They were complex and, often, provocative.
To help us get a better understanding of 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. (Advance tickets: $13.50 plus sales tax and processing fees. Doors: $17, or $15 with a student ID. Listed time is for doors. Talk starts 30 minutes later.)
Image: The crew of the Parma uses a capstan to weigh anchor. (Photo by Alan Villiers / National Maritime Museum of Britain / Wikimedia Commons.)