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Join us for another Library After Hours event and meet Dr. Jessica M. Floyd, scholar of sea shanties during the Great Age of Sail, as she presents “The Tale of Sea Shanties”!

We’ll explore 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.

We’ll learn 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, we’ll  examine why shanties are experiencing such a resurgence now, against the backdrop that is the COVID-19 pandemic. You’ll gain an appreciation of not only their enduring quality, but how they attach to specific human experiences

This live virtual event will be on Friday, December 3, 2021, at 7 p.m EST

Register now or watch the playback of the program here.

Want to know more about sea shanties and the Great Age of Sail?

Check out some of these resources:

Watch the Library of Congress’s videos on sea shanties!