Arctic Mysteries: Searching for the John Franklin Expedition in Nineteenth-Century Culture
Primary research area:
Secondary research area:
History of Exploration
The loss of the Arctic expedition led by Sir John Franklin was as much a series of cultural events as it a was naval and geopolitical disaster. Although Franklin is still a major topic in Arctic studies, historical research has moved on significantly in the past three decades, away from heroic and male-centric accounts of struggling through the ice, and towards histories that are sensitive to the role, the Arctic played in people’s lives, imaginations, and creations. This means we can and should now widen our documentary scope beyond men on ships and towards writers, commentators, artists, clairvoyants, and so on.
I will bring together a diverse selection of texts which reflect the breakdown in naval authority as the British public desperately sought answers to an Arctic mystery. Alongside standard sources on the Arctic (naval accounts, journals of explorers) this collection will map out the wider cultural legacy of the Franklin expedition by including letters from the public, pamphlets from lesser-known searchers, and the fantasies, fiction, and criticisms of psychics, eccentrics, and writers.
This project will produce a 4 volume edited series of documents relating to the Franklin search.
Volume 1: Arctic Breakthrough: The Quest for a Northwest Passage, 1818-45; Volume 2: In Search of the Franklin Expedition: Geographical Voyages, 1849-; Volume 3: In Search of the Franklin Expedition: Popular and Spectral Voyages, 1849;
Volume 4: The Franklin Loss in Nineteenth-Century British Culture: Fiction, Ballads, Poetry.
The project is under contract with Routledge and scheduled to appear in 2023.
Northwest Passage; John Franklin; Arctic exploration; popular culture