The News at the Ends of the Earth: The Print Culture of Polar Exploration

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Duke University Press, Apr 4, 2019 - Social Science - 328 pages
From Sir John Franklin's doomed 1845 search for the Northwest Passage to early twentieth-century sprints to the South Pole, polar expeditions produced an extravagant archive of documents that are as varied as they are engaging. As the polar ice sheets melt, fragments of this archive are newly emergent. In The News at the Ends of the Earth Hester Blum examines the rich, offbeat collection of printed ephemera created by polar explorers. Ranging from ship newspapers and messages left in bottles to menus and playbills, polar writing reveals the seamen wrestling with questions of time, space, community, and the environment. Whether chronicling weather patterns or satirically reporting on penguin mischief, this writing provided expedition members with a set of practices to help them survive the perpetual darkness and harshness of polar winters. The extreme climates these explorers experienced is continuous with climate change today. Polar exploration writing, Blum contends, offers strategies for confronting and reckoning with the extreme environment of the present.

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FIGURE PREFACE 1 Title page Facsimile of the Illustrated Arctic News
FIGURE INTRO 1 George Murray Levicks photographic notebook
FIGURE INTRO 6 Polar Almanac
FIGURE INTRO 12 Arctic Eagle
One Extreme Printing
1 Printing the Arctic Eagle
7 Playbill silk
3 Facsimile of the Illustrated Arctic News FATALACCIDENT Pretty Men Elisha Kent Kane private letter book
Three Antarctic Imprints
1 Mr CherryGarrard working on the South Polar Times
Four Dead Letter Reckoning
12 Detail from Illustrated Interviews de Reginald Koettliz
Five Inuit Knowledge and Charles Francis Hall
Conclusion Matters of Life and Death

Two Arctic News
1 Flight of the Plover detail

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About the author (2019)

Hester Blum is Associate Professor of English at Pennsylvania State University, author of The View from the Masthead: Maritime Imagination and Antebellum American Sea Narratives, and editor of Turns of Event: Nineteenth-Century American Literary Studies in Motion and Horrors of Slavery: Or, The American Tars in Tripoli.

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