In Conversation with Kevin M. Scott | The Dark Sea Gothic: Melville, the Amistad, and the Mystery of Identity

Date / Time

  • October 23, 2019
    6:00 pm - 7:00 pm


2008-2010 Delancey Place, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 19103, United States

Herman Melville’s lesser known masterpiece, the novella Benito Cereno, was published in 1855, as the nation stumbled toward civil war. Like the two sides of the coming war, Melville saw in the nation incommensurable ideals, completely in opposition but equally a part of the American body politic. To tell this parable of divided consciousness, the author drew upon his own revelatory experiences at sea, as well as maritime history, the capture and trial of the Amistad Africans, blackface minstrelsy, and the identity-forming authority of the law. This talk will explore these themes and consider the implications Melville may have seen on this dark sea’s horizons.

About the Speaker

Kevin Michael Scott is professor and chair of the Department of English at the University of West Florida, where he teaches courses in American literature, maritime literature, and popular culture. He has published extensively about 19th-century literature and visual culture, focusing on figures Like Herman Melville, the genre painter, William Sidney Mount, and the satirist, Mark Twain. He also writes and speaks about contemporary popular culture, most recently publishing a collection about Marvel comics and its response to 9/11 and the subsequent challenges to civil liberties. He is currently at work on an anthology of antebellum American women’s works of speculative fiction and a collection charting the political and social implications horror films of the 1980s.

Join the Conversation

A series of informal, intimate talks given by literary and cultural luminaries, In Conversation With The Rosenbach delves into fascinating histories, intellectual curiosities, and inspiring ideas. Each program offers audience members a chance to join the conversation after the talk and share their own thoughts and questions.

Seating is limited; advance registration is strongly recommended.