Sophia Nicolov

Profile

My AHRC-funded doctoral research investigates whale strandings, unusual mortality events and mass whale strandings in the east Pacific, and human responses to and cultural representations of them. It takes a highly interdisciplinary approach, combining the environmental humanities with the marine conservation sciences. My thesis focuses on two major mortality events in the east Pacific and draws together wide-ranging material from environmental sciences, media sources, archival material, literary texts, indigenous studies and more. The first case study is the 1999-2000 eastern North Pacific gray whale (Eschrichtius robustus) unusual mortality event, which involved the stranding of 651 animals on the west coasts of Canada, the USA and Mexico. The second is the discovery of more than 300 sei whales (Balaenoptera borealis) stranded on the coasts of Chile’s Patagonian fjords in 2015.

I am based in the School of English at the University of Leeds, where I am supervised by Professor Graham Huggan, and the Environment Department at the University of York, where I am supervised by the marine conservation biologist Professor Callum Roberts. I am part of a wider WRoCAH doctoral research network exploring species extinction from cross-disciplinary perspectives.

I previously completed an MPhil in History at the University of Bristol entitled 'On the Beach and Beyond: Responses to and Understandings of Sperm Whale Strandings on the British North Sea Coast since 1980'. My viva was examined by Richard Sabin, Principal Curator of the Natural History Museum, London, who is a specialist in cetaceans and strandings.

 

Publications:

'Open Endings: The Eastern North Pacific Gray Whale Unusual Mortality Event, 1999-2000', 'Blue Humanities' special issue Symploke (forthcoming December 2019)

Whale Encounters (Leeds: East Street Arts, 2019)

'Recovered Species? The Eastern North Pacific Grey Whale Unusual Mortality Event, 1999-2000', in Jill Atkins and Barry Atkins (eds.), Around the World in 80 Species: Exploring the Business of Extinction (Oxon: Routledge, 2019) 

 

Activities:

I co-curated the exhibition Here Be Whales at Left Bank Leeds and Hull Maritime Museum, February-April 2019. I produced an original piece of writing reflecting on the theme of the exhibition, Whale Encounters (Leeds: East Street Arts, 2019). 

I am the Director of Leeds Animal Studies Network, 2018-19.

I completed the course 'In Pursuit of the Whale' at the Bamfield Marine Science Centre, Vancouver Island, Canada, July 2019. The interdisciplinary course was delivered by Dr Greg Garrard (UCB) and Dr Nicholas Bradley (UVIC).

 

Conference papers:

‘Space, Time and the Body: Liminality and Sperm Whale Strandings on Britain’s North Sea Coast since 1980’, A Place On the Edge?: ASLE-UKI Postgraduate Conference (in collaboration with the Orkney Science Festival), September 2018

'Open Endings: The Eastern North Pacific Grey Whale Unusual Mortality Event, 1999-2000', Marine Transgressions, Environmental Humanities Research Centres of the University of Bristol and Bath Spa University, June 2018 

'Recovered Species? The Eastern North Pacific Grey Whale Unusual Mortality Event, 1999-2000', Extinction Roundtable, University of Sheffield, February 2018​​​​​​​

'On the Beach and Beyond: Responses to and Understandings of Sperm Whale Strandings on the British North Sea Coast since 1980', Animal History Group Summer Workshop: Cooperation and Conflict, King's College London, June 2017​​​​​​​

Forthcoming:

‘Scourge of the Red Tide: The 2015 Sei Whale Mass Stranding Chilean Patagonia and its Cultural Representations’, Animal Remains, University of Sheffield, 29-30 April

‘Whose Whale? Sperm Whale Strandings on Britain’s North Sea Coast’
Maritime Animals, National Maritime Museum, London, 25-27 April 2019

‘Omens from the Deep: The 1999-2000 eastern North Pacific gray whale (Eschrichtius robustus) unusual mortality event and its cultural representations’, A Hostile Climate? Multidisciplinary Perspectives on Climate Change, University of Leeds, 8 April 2019 

 

Research interests

Environmental history, blue humanities, environmental humanities, marine conservation, animal studies, animal history, species biodiversity, extinction, the Anthropocene, cultures of the Pacific Northwest, indigenous studies.


 

Qualifications

  • MPhil History, University of Bristol
  • BA History, University of Bristol