Dissertations, Theses, and Capstone Projects

Date of Degree


Document Type


Degree Name





Joan Richardson

Committee Members

Ammiel Alcalay

Wayne Koestenbaum

Subject Categories

American Art and Architecture | American Studies | Arabic Language and Literature | Comparative Literature | History of Science, Technology, and Medicine | Literature in English, British Isles | Literature in English, North America | Medieval Studies | Modern Art and Architecture | Nonfiction | United States History


Bermuda, Nonsuch, maritime history, marine exploration, submersibles, William Beebe, Else Bostelmann, Gloria Hollister, apophasis


Between 1930 and 1934, aboard a ship floating near the Atlantic island of Nonsuch, marine biologist Gloria Hollister took notes while listening to her colleague William Beebe, suspended below in a steel ball called the bathysphere, as he gazed out its quartz windows at the undersea world and spoke to her through a simple telephone. Hollister’s logbooks record new species, bioluminescent phenomena, and unfamiliar effects of light and color. With Beebe reporting from a half mile underwater, they represent the first eyewitness account of the deep ocean. Like the iconic photograph of earth taken from space, they are a turning point in our conception of the planetary. Based on original archival work, this dissertation explores the bathysphere logbooks and related materials as objects of major historical and scientific importance, while also viewing them within the literature of visionary experience and as foundational texts of today’s ecological and oceanic imagination.

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