One of the foci of nineteenth-century transatlantic studies is the Atlantic telegraph of 1858, in many ways the predecessor of modern global telecommunications. Much antebellum public discourse concerning the laying of telegraphic cable across the Atlantic Ocean between North America and the British archipelago focused on the epistemological ramifications of the technology (its potential to loosen constraints of time and space, for instance) or its political and cultural ramifications for Britain and the United States (in hastening communication between the two countries’ governments, for instance, the cable was often imagined to lessen the probability of geopolitical conflict). While these concerns energized much public commentary on the Atlantic telegraph, yet another interest lay in the Atlantic itself as a subaqueous space whose interior, now touched by human enterprise, was opened anew to human consideration. This chapter focuses on such notions of the Atlantic interior as transmitted through antebellum poetry, public address, and visual representation, bringing special attention to paradoxical notions of the Atlantic as a silent place that was yet flowing with language, telegraphically-networked and hence a space for literary generation.
- Antebellum literature
- literature and information technology
- transatlantic approaches to literature
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- General Arts and Humanities