Settlers even before getting there: Fariha Shaikh, ‘Spatial synchronicities: Settler emigration, the voyage out, and shipboard literary production’, in Sarah Comyn, Porscha Fermanis (eds), Worlding the south: Nineteenth-century literary culture and the southern settler colonies, Manchester University Press, 2021


Excerpt: This chapter explores the spatialising methodologies of shipboard periodicals produced on three ships as they voyaged between Britain and Australia across the oceanic expanses of the southern hemisphere in the mid-nineteenth century: the Sobraon, the Somersetshire, and the True Briton. By the 1860s, newspapers produced on board the ship by passengers between Britain and the Antipodes were a regular affair: fair copies of newspapers were produced by hand and distributed around the ship, or, if the ship carried a printing press, newspapers were produced at sea. A critical body of work within the fields of settler colonial studies and the blue humanities has slowly begun to develop around this genre, with attention being drawn to the pivotal role that they played in shaping settler colonial aspirations and the broader contours of maritime literary culture. Shipboard periodicals are an ephemeral and marginal genre, in that they were an almost ubiquitous presence on voyages and held an important function and value at the time of their production, but are often characterised as being without ‘enduring literary value’. In contradistinction to this view, this chapter embeds maritime literary culture and the production of shipboard periodicals firmly within some of the key ideological frameworks of settler colonial discourse. It argues that if the production of shipboard periodicals produced sociability at sea, then this sociability was also embedded in settler discourses of race and power.

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