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Rare Books Virtual Lecture — A Drop in the Ocean

No swellings tell that winds
may be upon some far-off happier sea-
No heavings hint that winds
have been on seas less hideously serene.”

— Edgar Allan Poe, “The City in the Sea”

Rare Books invites you to view its most recent virtual lecture, “A Drop in the Ocean.” Learn about the literature of oceanic exploration – from books about maritime laws, scientific observations, and harrowing narratives of adventures, to pirates, polar expeditions and privateers. These books have traveled by hand, and across the seven seas!

from Philosophical and Miscellaneous Papers, Benjamin Franklin, 1787

The books in this collection are evidence of the fact that globalization is not a new concept. Through literature, networks among societies have brought together different languages, religions, and knowledge across time and space. Like literature, our oceans and seas act as bridges connecting new and different worlds.

from An Authentic Narrative of the Loss of the American Brig Commerce, James Riley, 1817

For better or for worse, lone travelers, pilgrims, merchants, and explorers have set out across the waters in search of something new. Likewise, mass migrations have changed the landscapes and the cultures they’ve encountered. Those encounters, each and every one of them, have shaped our history and the world we know and understand today.

from The History of Pirates, 1825

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