This article is part reflection on how academic disciplines can stymie creative scholarship and part critical effort to break out of that orientation to reclaim the author’s personal passion for mermaids as subject for scholarly analysis. Pressman argues that contemporary mermaid literature has much to tell us about our most pressing social, cultural, and political issues. This article takes as its starting point the racist backlash over Disney’s 2019 casting announcement for its 2023 feature film and the 2020 antiracist graffiti on The Little Mermaid statue in Copenhagen as the complex site for assessing the entanglements and inner workings of cultural memory. Following Rita Felski’s call to pursue attachment over critical detachment in scholarship, this article enacts creative-critical attention via a focus on mermaids in contemporary public discourse.

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