English Professor John Bryant is one of 79 scholars invited to sail on the commemorative 38th voyage of the Charles W. Morgan, an 1841 whaleship (photo above ©Mystic Seaport, Dennis Murphy). After having sailed 37 voyages, the Morgan became the centerpiece exhibit at the Mystic Seaport Museum for more than 80 years. It was recently re-fitted for sailing and staffed with a professional crew and noted artists, historians, scientists, journalists, teachers, musicians, scholars, and whaling descendants along for the ride. Dr. Bryant is one of the world’s foremost experts on Herman Melville, and the Morgan is a “sister” ship of Melville’s first whaling vessel, the Acushnet.
The 38th Voyagers program was made possible in part by a major grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities. The 79 guests have been divided into small groups to sail with the ship’s crew for a night and a day on different legs of the journey.
Because the guests come from so many different disciplines, they each have a unique perspective of the voyage to share. They are chronicling their travels, and these records will be available online, in print and through future exhibits at the Mystic Seaport. Dr. Bryant is sailing on the final leg of the ship’s journey, from Provincetown to Boston, MA, from July 14-15, 2014. Dr. Bryant’s experience aboard the Morgan is part of the research he is doing for a Melville biography and for his blog.
Dr. Bryant has served on the Hofstra English faculty since 1986. He was recently awarded a Fulbright grant that gave him the opportunity to teach courses on the American Renaissance and Early American Literature at the University of Rome (Sapienza) during the spring 2014 semester. He also received a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities that is providing funding for his continued work on the Melville Electronic Library (MEL.hofstra.edu), a searchable collection of interlinked versions of Herman Melville’s manuscripts, print texts, sources, art work and other research and secondary materials that will make up a virtual literary “playground” for scholars, critics, students, and general readers.
Dr. Bryant is the author of Melville and Repose (Oxford), The Fluid Text (Michigan), Melville Unfolding (Michigan), and the Longman Critical Edition of Moby-Dick, which he co-edited with Haskell Springer. He is also founding editor of Leviathan: A Journal of Melville Studies, the official publication of the International Melville Society.