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In the mid-nineteenth century, thirty-six expeditions set out for the Northwest Passage in search of Sir John Franklin's missing expedition. The array of visual and textual material produced on these voyages was to have a profound impact on the idea of the Arctic in the Victorian imaginary. Eavan O'Dochartaigh closely examines neglected archival sources to show how pictures created in the Arctic fed into a metropolitan view transmitted through engravings, lithographs, and panoramas. Although the metropolitan Arctic revolved around a fulcrum of heroism, terror and the sublime, the visual culture of the ship reveals a more complicated narrative that included cross-dressing, theatricals, dressmaking, and dances with local communities. O'Dochartaigh's investigation into the nature of the on-board visual culture of the nineteenth-century Arctic presents a compelling challenge to the 'man-versus-nature' trope that still reverberates in polar imaginaries today. This title is also available as Open Access on Cambridge Core.
Uncovering a wealth of archival information, Eavan O'Dochartaigh gives fresh and surprising insight into the Victorian image of the Arctic.
Eavan O'Dochartaigh is a Government of Ireland Postdoctoral Fellow at National University of Ireland Galway. Prior to this she was a Marie Skłodowska-Curie Individual Fellow at Umeå University in northern Sweden and a Government of Ireland Doctoral Scholar at National University of Ireland Galway. She has also worked as an archaeologist and archaeological illustrator in Ireland, Iceland, and the UK.