Thousand-Mile Song, with Philip Hoare and David Rothenberg

12-1:30pm, Tuesday 23rd May 2017,
Free Event

We invite you to a lunchtime seminar with Philip Hoare and IAs Benjamin Meaker Visiting Professor David Rothenberg, in a discussion on whale song.

For Herman Melville, the whale, swimming in ‘pyramidical silence’, was the great emblem of the silent seas. But this, it turned out, was not quite right. Writing over 130 years later, Heathcote Williams, in his book-length poem to whales, writes of the ‘webs of elegant cetacean music’, their ‘different dialects; different themes’.

The history of whale song, and the remarkable efforts made by humans to engage with, to interpret, and even to sing along with, these creatures is the subject of David Rothenberg’s Thousand Mile Song. In conversation with Philip Hoare – author of Leviathan and The Sea Inside, and great champion of the whale – they will discuss the enduring cultural power and fascinating complexities of these songs.

The seminar is open to all. Whale song will be provided!

For more information, contact Jimmy Packham ( or Laurence Publicover (

Organised with The University of Bristol’s research clusters, The Perspective from the Sea ( and Beastly Histories (