Assistant history professor Vaughn Scribner discussed the possibility of mermaids, tritons, and other mythical creatures in a public lecture on Feb. 7 in Irby Hall room 114.
Scribner used studies of Eighteenth century European scientists and observers in order to show past alleged experiences with mermaids and convey a deeper message of the development of historic and scientific research.
Scribner first described the acceptance of mermaid creatures by royal authorities in Europe by the end of the Eighteenth century.
He showed accounts of different men of Europe who claimed to have caught and killed mermaids, and showed the different sketches of the men in order to convey what they had witnessed.
Many of the sightings from Scribner’s research showed a pattern along the trade routes and expansions of the European kingdoms of the Eighteenth century.
As Scribner said, the beginning of the study happened by coincidence.
“I was just coming across primary source material for another study, and I noticed that there was mentioning of mermen in my research material, Scribner said. “I began the study out of sheer curiosity.”
Students came into the lecture with different thoughts on the reality of mermaids and other similar creatures, but were intrigued on the topic itself.
“There are stories of mermaids for a reason, but I don’t believe that mermaids are actually out there,” freshman Serenity Bryant said.
Sophomore Austin Angel said she didn’t believe in mermaids but was curious about the history of the European scientific development.
Scribner poked fun at the thought that much of the ocean has not yet been explored, but went on to explain the opportunities of science and development in research.
“You should engage in anything you find interesting,” Scribner said. “You should use it to uncover larger and more important ideologies.”
Students, such as junior Jessica Hill, left more motivated in their studies of history.
“I think it is really cool to study unconventional aspects that are out there. History is a lot more than just boring facts. There is so much more to explore and research,” Hill said.
Scribner will have his research published in the “Itinerario,” a Cambridge University press journal, toward the end of 2017.
The lecture was hosted by Phi Alpha Theta, who plans to host more lectures on historic content in the future.
Photo by Anna Suarez