The Voyage of Life

Stephen Curley

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The sea voyage is one of the earliest metaphors about the meaning of life. This lecture looks at how that metaphor works. First, we examine a short poem by Walt Whitman that seems to be about a merchant vessel. Next, we examine the story told in four nineteenth-century oil paintings by Thomas Cole, the Dean of the so-called Hudson River School of artists. And finally, we listen to and appreciate a complex tale of self-interest and self-sacrifice in a traditional British ballad.

Stephen Curley

Stephen Curley is a Regents Professor and an award-winning teacher of literature, writing, and film at Texas A&M University at Galveston. He received his B.A. from Fordham University and his Ph.D. from Rice University. He has published books about coastal Texas; American war movies; women and minorities in Texas culture; the history of Texas A&M University at Galveston; and a Second-World-War attack transport that became an ocean liner, a maritime training ship, and is now a diving reef. He has released a recording of sea chanteys and makes community presentations on topics related to popular culture and the sea.

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