History, Mystery, Leisure, Pleasure: Evelyn Waugh, Bruno Latour, and the Ocean Liner
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The ocean linerdefined here as a transatlantic express passenger steamship in circulation from the 1840s as a mail carrier to its near-extinction in the 1960s in favor of airplanes and container shipsmatured both as a physical object and as a cultural construction during the period of literary modernism. These ships attracted a great deal of attention from journalists, architects, artists, designers, and writers, whose bevy of verbal and visual texts constituted a recognizable discourse around crossing and cruising. The resulting archive has been examined by historians, famously by maritime historians Walter Lord and John Maxtone-Graham, but, more recently, by social and architectural historians.1 Yet the ocean liner has not been thoroughly investigated as a discursive phenomenon. Lara Feigel and Alexandra Harriss interdisciplinary collection, Modernism on Sea (2009), focuses on seaside style, while Cesare Casarinos Modernity at Sea (2002) addresses sailing vessels.2 And at present, the burgeoning field of oceanic studies focuses on periods well before modernism.3 Yet humanists would be amply rewarded by considering the incredible cultural currency enjoyed by liners and cruise ships. Liners popularized avant-garde aesthetics, including Art Nouveau (the France), minimalism (the le de France), and Art Deco (the Normandie), while the Aquitania crucially influenced Le Corbusier.