Institute Overview

Faculty and Administration

© Matt Kish

Herman Melville’s Moby-Dick and the World of Whaling in the Digital Age

A Virtual Summer Institute for School Teachers in New Bedford, Massachusetts
June 21–July 1, July 6–9, 2021

Application Deadline: March 1, 2021

Melville’s Moby-Dick, named for the white whale, swims as a literary work at the center of the established canon and one of the most frequently referenced and adapted American novels. This seminar encounters the rich worlds of Moby-Dick to help teachers  better understand Melville’s masterpiece, appreciate its literary power, and interpret its wonders for their students.

Melville arrived in New Bedford on Christmas day in 1840 and shipped nine days later on the Acushnet from Fairhaven across the harbor; when he wrote of his whaling adventure to the Pacific a decade later in his sixth novel Moby-Dick, the drama begins with Ishmael’s winter arrival in that port city. Learning in New Bedford  supplements our collective learning by providing resources and a unique vantage point from which to examine the world of 19th-century whaling, an energy industry that spanned the globe and relied on an international workforce. We will draw on these local resources and the museum’s material artifacts to consider how Melville used the anatomy of whales and the accoutrements of whaling to craft an epic that still resonates with readers today.

Kris Gillis (Kentucky), Megan Thoma (Rhode Island), Director Tim Marr (North Carolina), and Michelle Fernandes (New Jersey) at the mercy of a sperm whale

About the Institute

Since 2000 the New Bedford Whaling Museum (NBWM) has partnered with the Melville Society Cultural Project (MSCP) in such ventures as scholarly programming at the annual Moby-Dick Marathon and the establishment of the Melville Society Archive in the Museum’s library, one of the best collections of Melville scholarship anywhere in the world. The two organizations are working together to make this Summer Institute for School Teachers possible with the support of the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH).