Cormac McCarthy.

Cormac McCarthy’s Unforgiving Parables of American Empire

He demonstrated how the frontier wasn’t an incubator of democratic equality but a place of unrelenting pain, cruelty, and suffering.

The Literal (and Figurative) Whiteness of Moby Dick

For Herman Melville, the color white could be horrifyingly bleak.

Herman Melville at Home

The novelist drew on far-flung voyages to create his masterpiece. But he could finish it only at his beloved Berkshire farm.
Section of "A Whaling Voyage 'Round The World," depicting three ships, with whales and sailors in rowboats in the water

Did North America's Longest Painting Inspire Moby-Dick?

Herman Melville likely saw the panorama “Whaling Voyage,” which records the sinking of the whaler Essex, while staying in Boston in 1849.
Illustrated sperm whale with blue stripes of water.

The Original 1851 Reviews of Moby Dick

There was little indication 166 years ago that the book would enter the canon of great American fiction.

Freedom By the Sea

On the trail of whales, Melville, and Douglass in New Bedford.

Pieces of the Past

Dispatches from a spine-tingling day of visits to the places where James Fenimore Cooper, Herman Melville, and Thomas Cole created their most famous works.

What Herman Melville Can Teach Us About the Trump Era

He would point out that what plagues us are America's sins coming home to roost.
A bowl of old-fashioned chowder with a spoon on the side

Chowder Once Had No Milk, No Potatoes—and No Clams

The earliest-known version of the dish was a winey, briny, bready casserole.
Roger Payne and Scott McVay's aural spectrograph rendering the whale sequences

Minor Listening, Major Influence: Revisiting Songs of the Humpback

Recorded accidentally by the Navy during the Cold War, "Songs of the Humpback Whale" became a hit album that changed perceptions about the natural world.

Sea Shanties and the Whale Oil Myth

Oil companies like to point to the demise of the whaling industry as an example of market-based energy solutions. The reality is much more complicated.
Whale illustrations.

The Art of Whaling: Illustrations from the Logbooks of Nantucket Whaleships

The 19th-century whale hunt was a brutal business. But between the frantic calls of “there she blows!”, there was plenty of time for creation too.

Buffalo’s Vanished Maritime Past

The city was once a bustling and infamous Great Lakes port. How should it be remembered?

‘A Doubtful Freedom’

Andrew Delbanco's new book positions the debate over fugitive slaves as a central factor in the nation's slide toward disunion.

Whitman, Melville, & Julia Ward Howe: A Tale of Three Bicentennials

The difference between the careers and reputations of the three famous authors is about gender as well as genius.

The Short, Sad Story of Stanwix Melville

Piecing back together the forgotten history of Herman Melville's second son.
A photograph of the New Bedford whaleship Plantina.

The American Whaling Industry

A primary source set and teaching guide created by educators.
Prince Wichaichan, also known as Prince George Washington

George Washington at the Siamese Court

Ross Bullen explores the curious case of Prince George Washington, a 19th-century Siamese prince.