Join us for our monthly reading group looking at all things spooky & salty 🌊 👻

Since 2021 the Haunted Shores Reading Group has been exploring texts centred around oceanic and aquatic spaces. We invite interdisciplinary approaches and explore different textual forms. See more details below and please get in touch at if you would like to suggest any readings and/or chair a session.

blue and white ocean

November 2023


Our next reading group session will be devoted to the works of Edgar Allan Poe!

Our meeting is scheduled for 30th November 2023, at 5 pm UK Time.

Before the meeting, we invite you to take a look at the following texts:

  • “MS Found in a Bottle” a short story by Edgar Allan Poe
  • “Annabel Lee” a poem by Edgar Allan Poe
  • “The City in the Sea” a poem by Edgar Allan Poe
  • “Oceanic Studies and the Gothic Deep” an article by Jimmy Packham and David Punter

(Image sourced from Pexels Free Photos)

bunch of small pieces of white and red stones

September 2023


Chaired by Dr Giulia Champion and Roslyn Irving

We warmly welcome you back after the summer break with information on our next reading group session. Our meeting is scheduled for 29th September 2023, at 5 pm UK Time.
For access to the session and documents please join our mailing list or send a note to

Before the meeting, we invite you to take a look at the following texts through which the histories of the oceanic space, specifically the triangular trade route, open a discussion on enslavement, racism, identity, and accountability.  

  • salt. (2018, Faber and Faber) by Selina Thompson, inspired by the playwright’s journey retracing the Atlantic Slave Trade Route. The play offers a deeply personal engagement with the legacies of enslavement and the violence of European history. Thompson asks her audience “to make a commitment to live, a commitment to the radical space of not moving on, and all that it can open” by fully acknowledging the weight of this history, the ways it continues to be experienced, symbolically carried in salt.  
  • For those with a UK institutional login, a recording of salt. can be accessed here:
  • In the Wake: On Blackness and Being (2016, DUP), by Christina Sharpe. To accompany Thompson’s play, we invite you to read the first chapter of In the Wake. We are interested in how Sharpe’s concept of ‘the wake’ and ‘wake work’ open new conversations around Thompson’s play.

We welcome suggestions on themes and texts for future sessions, and if you would like to chair a meeting, please reach out!

Roslyn is taking over from Giulia as the administrator for the HS reading group from September, if you would like to discuss your ideas feel free to get in touch! We would like to thank Giulia for her dedication and coordination over the last two years, and she remains a very important part of the team!

JUNE 2023


Chaired by Emma Devlin and Roslyn Irving

“Communication & The Ocean Space”

This month’s theme is communication within, through and around the oceanic space. We will draw upon various textual mediums, emphasising interdisciplinarity and unified by their engagement with communication, acoustics and whales. We would like you to think about the sea as a body which allows vibration, transmits messages, and connects individuals and communities.

  • “The King of Seatown” by Emma Devlin is a short story in which the sea is a dynamic and responsive character, filled with knowledge, capable of feeling and deciding things beyond human comprehension.
  • “A Voice Above Nature” by Annie Moir, is a short documentary exploring the calls of humpback whales and the consequences of noise pollution. The film invites an encounter with sound to visualise space and the dangers of man-made noise:
  • “On Water, Salt, Whales, and the Black Atlantics” by Christina Sharpe and Alexis Pauline Gumbs is a series of letters between two black female scholars in which the Atlantic serves as a space to meditate on community, intergenerational exchange, voice, and sensation:
  • “Acoustic crypsis in southern right whale mother–calf pairs: infrequent, low-output calls to avoid predation?” by Nielsen et al.: A scientific paper exploring the acoustics of whales, in which the sea transmits the calls of whale mothers, guiding and reuniting with their calves:

Additional readings – not compulsory for the session, but shared by Emma as sources of inspiration for her work and which open the discussion to other topics:

MAY 2023


Chaired by Dr Giulia Champion and with Dr Sara Rich as a guest.

We will be discussing Sara’s brilliant work Shipwreck Hauntography: Underwater Ruins and the Uncanny (2021).

This time around our reading group will take a slightly different format, we invite participants to read the book’s (1) Preface, (2) Postface and (3) One additional chapter of your choice.

Additionally, you’re welcome to watch Sara’s presentation to our 2023 Haunted Shores Conference which focuses on Chapter 3 of her monograph, available via this Youtube link:

In our Haunted Shores Conference 2022 on Seaweed, Sara shared an introduction to her work and her teaching in relation to it along with incredible projects by her students, if you’d like to find out more about this excellent case of research-led pedagogy, see the conference presentation on our Youtube channel below:

Additionally, people may want to dwell on another recent work of Sara, which is open access, the brilliant co-edited with Peter B. Campbell: Contemporary Philosophy for Maritime Archaeology: Flat Ontologies, Oceanic Thought, and the Anthropocene (2023).

APRIL 2023


Chaired by Armin Egger

“Ghost Ships”

This session aims to explore the phenomenon of ghost ships from three different angles: 1) The variety of ghost ships that have been the focus of reported sightings over the course of history, including connections to folklore and possible non-supernatural explanations. 2) The different meanings of the term “ghost ship” and the various possible literary interpretations of the theme. Ghost ships can be ships that are found abandoned and aimlessly drifting on the ocean, ghostly apparitions that are (briefly) glimpsed amidst heavy mist and fog, ships with a crew of ghosts, and much more. 3) One specific and particularly influential example of a ghost ship (captain) and its doomed eternal voyage – The Flying Dutchman, a cultural figure of continuing relevance that has received widely divergent interpretations over time and allows the exploration of many – often Gothic – themes.

Optional Readings:

  • Julia Mix Barrington “Phantom Bark”.
  • Frank Schuster “In Search Of The Origin of an Antarctic Ghost Ship”.
  • Lecture on Arthur Conan Doyle’s adaptation of the Mary Celeste story (

MARCH 2023


Chaired by Dr Prema Arasu

“Oceanic Humanities and the Deep Sea”

This session considers the construction of the deep sea in the cultural, historical, and scientific imaginations. Significant advances in deep-sea technology have led to advances in deep-sea biology, ecology, and oceanography. We know that the deepest trenches of the ocean are inhabited by diverse communities of amphipods and snailfish, and are accumulating cables and plastic bags. However, the deep sea continues to be described in terms of its impenetrable mystery. We will discuss how the cultural construction of the deep sea in the popular imagination facilitates or restricts meaningful entanglement with the Other.

  • Jamieson et al., “Fear and loathing of the deep sea: why don’t people care about the deep ocean?”, see here.
  • Alaimo, “Feminist Science Studies and Ecocriticism: Aesthetics and Entanglement in the Deep Sea”, see here.

Optional Readings:

  • Jamieson & Onda, “Lebensspuren and müllspuren: Drifting plastic bags alter microtopography of seafloor at full ocean depth (10,000 m, Philippine Trench)”, here.
  • Alan Jamieson – “Meet the Mysterious ‘monsters’ of the deep”:
  • The Deep-Sea Podcast:



Chaired by Nancy Schumann and Roslyn Irving

“Gothic Waterways of the Thames”

This session explores the deadly potential of the river Thames. Like many waterways, the Thames has its fair share of urban legends and real life tragedy, and we invite you to think about the ways this can be encountered through historical events and fiction. From treacherous tides to lethal turns, the river itself presents all manner of dangers. It becomes a gothic presence for those living, working or traveling along the waterway. In this session, we will have a closer look at the sinking of the Princess Alice in 1878, a real life disaster that stirred people’s imaginations due the size of the catastrophe, that has been all but forgotten since. We will also discuss Neil Gaiman’s short story “Down to a Sunless Sea”, and the haunting memories associated with the Thames. Of course you are also invited to bring any of your own encounters with the Thames, literary or literal, perhaps in fictions such as The Picture of Dorian Gray or Sherlock Holmes, or perhaps having walked its banks!

Optional Readings:



Chaired by H Frances Hallam

“Tentacular Feminism in the Ocean”

This session considers emerging critical work in feminist science studies and its contact zones within the blue humanities to consider ways in which oceanic space, materiality and nonhuman bodies facilitate different kinds of thinking. While we will examine critical texts, this reading group hopes to use these feminist encounters as a starting point to promote alternative ways of approaching ocean space in speculative fictions. We will consider how the ocean and its inhabitants can promote thinking “tentacularly” by destabilising knowledge or prompt nonhuman epistemologies, in ways that facilitate Gothic or Science Fictional encounters and estrangements. 

  • Haraway, D. “Tentacular Thinking: Anthropocene, Capitalocene, Chthulucene” in Staying with the Trouble: Making Kin in the Chthulucene, Duke University Press, 2016.
  • Stacy Alaimo “States of Suspension: Trans-corporeality at Sea” ISLE: Interdisciplinary Studies in Literature and the Environment 19.3 (2012): 476-493.
  • Astrida Neimanis “Introduction: Figuring Bodies of Water” in Bodies of Water: Posthuman Feminist Phenomenology, Bloomsbury, 2017.

Optional Readings:

  • Melody Jue “Introduction: Thinking through Seawater” in Wild Blue Media: Thinking through Seawater, Duke University Press, 2020.
  • Eva Hayward “Lessons From a Starfish” in Queering the Non/Human, Noreen Giffney and Myra J. Hird, eds, Ashgate Publishing, Ltd., 2008.
  • Heather Swanson, Anna Tsing, Nils Bubandt and Elaine Gan “Introduction: Bodies Tumbled into Bodies” in Arts of Living on a Damaged Planet: Ghosts and Monsters of the Anthropocene, University of Minnesota Press, 2017.



Chaired by Fredrik Blanc

“The Entangled Ocean: Tentacularity, Horror, and ‘The Promise of Monsters’”

This session of the Haunted Shores Reading Group explores how concepts of tentacularity, trans-corporeality, and entanglement can inform different ways of thinking oceanic horror. In putting into dialogue current ecofeminist theory and blue humanities with the Weird and phenomenologies of horror, this session explores the darker sides of oceanic entanglement and the richness of tentacularity for thinking monstrosity alongside the posthuman, and the thalassophobic within ‘wet ontologies’. 

  • Sperling, A. “H.P. Lovecraft’s Weird Body”, Rhizomes: Cultural Studies in Emerging Knowledge, (31), available at
  • Thacker, E. “Naturhorror and the Weird” in Spaces and Fictions of The Weird and The Fantastic: Ecologies, Geographies, Oddities, Julius Greve and Florian Zappe, eds. Palgrave Macmillan, 2019.
  • Luckhurst, R. “The Weird: A Dis/orientation” Textual Practice, 31(6) 1041–1061.
  • Haraway, D. “Tentacular Thinking: Anthropocene, Capitalocene, Chthulucene” in Staying with the Trouble: Making Kin in the Chthulucene, Duke University Press, 2016.

Optional Readings:

  • Mathieson, J. “The Oceanic Weird, Wet Ontologies and Hydro-Criticism in China Miéville’s The Scar” in Spaces and Fictions of The Weird and The Fantastic: Ecologies, Geographies, Oddities, Julius Greve and Florian Zappe, eds. Palgrave Macmillan, 2019.
  • Trigg, D. The Thing: A Phenomenology of Horror, Zero Books, 2014, available at
  • Tuana, N. ‘Viscous Porosity: Witnessing Katrina’ (2008) in Material feminisms, available at
  • DeLoughrey, E. “Kinship in the Abyss: Submerging with The Deep” Atlantic Studies, 1–13.
  • Deckard, S. and Oloff, K. “‘The One Who Comes from the Sea’: Marine Crisis and the New Oceanic Weird in Rita Indiana’s La Mucama de Omicunlé (2015)”, Humanities, 9(3) 86.




The run up to Halloween offers the perfect moment to consider Sea “Monsters”, the ways monstrosity is imagined, and fears of aquatic depths and what the sea might conceal. 

Trigger warning: some of the texts and videos below may contain gory details, blood, death, frightening scenes.



Chaired by Drs Allison Craven & Diana Sandars

Three scholarly essays include two on Australian beach/coast horror/gothic, one by Mark Ryan & Liz Ellison, and the other by Lynda Hawryluk, and one on “Coastal Form” by Meg Samuelson, and a piece from The Conversation (“Literature Sheds Light…”) by Charne Lavery and Samuelson about their coinage of the term the “oceanic south”. In addition, there are some very short clips from films discussed by Ryan and Ellison. We’ll explain in the session that the film content is generally aligned with what’s known as “Australian Gothic” but the overall perspective of our anthology goes wider to the “oceanic south”. The term “oceanic south”, as mentioned, is the coinage of Charne Lavery and Meg Samuelson and their piece below explains the derivation as well as containing a link to their journal article for optional further reading. Meg Samuel’s “Coastal Form” (which also informs our project) describes the porosity of littoral/coast and develops the idea of “amphibian positions” with reference to South African fictions.

There’s an optional extra essay attached (Hawryluk’s “Exploring Australian Coastal Gothic”) for background to “Surfing with Shivers”. “Exploring Australian Coastal Gothic” appeared in the same book as Ryan and Ellison’s “Beaches in Australian Horror Films” and covers similar material, although Hawryluk discusses literature and film and attends more to the way Australian coastal gothic poetics align with traditional gothic motifs. We’ve set her “Surfing with Shivers” this time for its focus on the (as it were ‘real’) shark menace in New South Wales, and its resonance with gothic tropes about hostile nature in Australian films and literature.

  • Ryan, Mark David and Elizabeth Ellison. 2020. “Beaches in Australian Horror Films: Sites of Fear and Retreat.” In Writing the Australian Beach: Local Site, Global Idea. Springer International, pp. 125-141.
  • Hawryluk, Lynda. 2021. “Surfing with Shivers: The Gothic Far North Coast in Poetry.” In Nigel Krauth, Sally Breen, Tim Baker and Jake Sandtner (Eds.) Creative writing and surfing. TEXT Special Issue 65.
  • Lavery, Charne and Samuelson, Meg. 2019. “Literature sheds light on the history and mystery of the Southern Ocean.” The Conversation. 6 October, 2019. (This article in The Conversation outlines Lavery and Samuelson’s idea of the “oceanic south” and includes a link to their extended refereed journal article about it, optional for those who wish to read more).
  • Samuelson, Meg. 2017. “Coastal Form: Amphibian Positions, Wider Worlds, and Planetary Horizons on the African IndianOcean Littoral.” Comparative Literature, vol. 69, no. 1, pp. 16-24.

Optional Reading:

  • Hawryluk, Lynda. 2020. “Exploring Australian Coastal Gothic: Poetry and Place.” In Writing the Australian Beach: Local Site, Global Idea. Springer International, pp. 91-107. (This essay is referenced in Hawryluk’s “Surfing with Shivers”)

Optional related short film clips re Ryan and Ellison, and Hawryluk essays:



Chaired by Dr Madeline Potter

Optional Reading:

JUNE 2022

The Aquatic Hybrid

Chaired by Fredrik Blanc

Optional Readings:

MAY 2022


Chaired by Dr Giulia Champion

In May, we focus on the theme of Seaweed in relation to the Haunted Shores Network 2022 Conference on the same theme, consider joining us on Friday 20th May for the online conference, which promises to be extremely exciting. See more details about the conference here:, everyone is welcome and registration is free but mandatory.

  • Please read Melody Jue’s chapter “The Media of Seaweed: Between Kelp Forest and Archive” in Saturation: An Elemental Politics (ed by Melody Jue and Rafico Ruiz, De Gruyter, 2021).
  • Please read Anthony Trollope’s short story “Malachi’s Cove” (1864), available online here: 
  • If possible and available to you, please watch the first episode of the 2019 TV adaptation of the DC Comic Graphic Novel The Swamp Thing, available on Amazon Prime UK or on Youtube. (This may be available on different streaming services depending on your location).

Optional reading:

If you can please read the introduction (10 pages) of Elizabeth Parker’s book The Forest and the EcoGothic: The Deep Dark Woods in the Popular Imagination (Palgrave Macmillan, 2020) thinking about how issues of EcoGothic and the depiction of the Wood can be translated to “underwater forests” such as Kelp Forest or bodies of seaweed including the sargassum weed in the Caribbean sea for instance.

APRIL 2022


Chaired by Dr Dorka Tamás

In April, we continue our journey focusing on the theme of “Crime and the Nautical Gothic”, considering cultural productions engaging with Pirates and Maritime Criminality.

Optional Reading:

If you have more time, please consider reading “John Howison’s New Gothic Nationalism and Transatlantic Exchange” (2008) by Gretchen Woertendyke.

MARCH 2022


Chaired by Roslyn Irving

In March, we will continue our coastal exploration with a session on “The Sea as a Healing Space”. This will draw on Ann Radcliffe’s The Romance of the Forest, a 19th-century archival text, an interdisciplinary publication on how nature is ‘prescribed’, and reflections on the exchange between the health of the oceans and medicines. Our aim is to consider why the coast becomes a remedial space, and how this connection between the sea, health, life, and death is inherently gothic.   

  • Extracts from the third volume of Ann Radcliffe’s The Romance of the Forest.
  • A short extract from Charteris’ Guide to Health and the Coast.
  • Bell, S.L., Leyshon, C., Foley, R., and Kearns, R.A. article entitled “The “healthy dose” of nature: A cautionary tale.” Geography Compass. 2019; 13:e12415. This can be downloaded here:
  • Please also watch this short video if you have the time:



Chaired by Alannah Hernandez

In February, we begin our journey focusing on the theme of “Global Coastal Gothic”, considering cultural productions from Ireland and the Caribbean and Emily Alder’s “Through Oceans Darkly: Sea Literature and the Nautical Gothic” (2017). Our aim is to consider transatlantic hauntings and labour as well as shared colonial histories. 



Following the October meeting on Dracula, we will continue our discussion on shipwrecks and coastal gothic, but move south for a session on Cornish Coastal Gothic. In this session, we will read an excerpt from Dr Joan Passey’s doctoral chapter to be published in her forthcoming monograph Cornish Gothic, 1840-1913 with University of Wales Press, a tale she curated and edited for the Cornish Horrors: Tales from the Land’s End collection with the British Library’s “Tales of the Weird” series, and a song. All these texts intersect around themes of the coastal gothic, shipwrecks, sailors and fishermen, as well as the tourism industry in Cornwall.

  • Please read the excerpt from Dr Joan Passey’s Chapter: ‘“Let us catch the sea-wolves falling on their prey”: Folklore, National Identity, and the Gothic in Cornish Shipwreck Narratives.
  • Please read the introduction and E. M. Bray’s tale “A Ghostly Visitation: A True Incident” from the Cornish Horrors: Tales from the Land’s End collection.
  • Finally, please listen to the group “Fisherman’s Friends” song “Widow Woman” on youtube: 

The video provides some background on the song and you can find more details in this article: and the lyrics here:  

October 2021

Dracula Shipwreck

Chaired by Dr Madeline Potter

In October we will continue our coastal adventure with a discussion on Dracula Shipwreck. When Dracula arrives in Whitby, he does so on board the Demeter. In a haunting scene, the ship drifts into Whitby Harbour: an apparent ghost ship, with a dead captain, fastened to the wheel, with a look of horror eternally struck on his face. Why have we chosen this iconic scene? We think it’s shaped our Gothic imagination, setting the paths for many explorations of the relationship between the sea as an uncanny space and the vampire as an uncanny creature. We also believe it is so jarring because it taps into some very fundamental human fears, which we will explore during our group. Finally, it is one of the scenes which has made Gothic tourism in Whitby so popular, showing us how literature has the potential to impact the world we live in.

  • Chapter VII of Bram Stoker’s Dracula: the novel is accessible for free on Project Gutenberg:
  • Watch the Nosferatu death ship scene:
  • If people have access to the 1931 Bela Lugosi adaptation of Dracula, watch the section between 18:14 and 21:23 (I think timings might vary slightly, but it’s basically from when ‘Aboard the Vesta — bound for England’ comes on screen, up to the newspaper clipping ‘Late London Edition’); This can be shown during the reading group if people struggled to access it.
  • If you have Netflix, it would be interesting to watch the beginning of Dracula (BBC, 2020), Season 1, Ep. 3, from 2:04 to 9:31.
  • Read Emily Alder’s essay ‘Dracula’s Ghost Ship’, available here:
  • While this is yet to be released, take a look at this adaptation which is currently in production:
  • See also the illustration by John Coulthart of Dracula portraying the Demeter as it approaches Whitby Harbour to consider alongside the readings.