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SPRI Review 1995: SPRI Review 1995

SPRI Review 1995

Research Overviews

Polar History and Humanities Group

Dr B. Riffenburgh
C. Holland, H.G.R. King, Professor Ian Whitaker P. Speak, Dr J. West, M.P. Casarini-Wadhams

During the year, the Polar History and Humanities Group and its corresponding members continued with a wide range of research, dealing with polar, maritime, and exploration history and Arctic humanities studies.

Dr Beau Riffenburgh continued his research into the relationshps among popular culture, nationalism, nineteenth-century European imperial expansion, and the exploration of the Arctic and Africa. In conjunction with members of the Faculty of History at both Cambridge and Lancaster universities, he continued research into the role of the British popular press in the creation, dissemination, and effect of imperial heroic exploration myths in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. He also furthered his research into the life and contributions of James Gordon Bennett Jr, one of the major sponsors of exploration in the last third of the nineteenth century.

In addition to three books written with Senior Associate Dr Elizabeth Cruwys - all of which were published during the year - Dr Riffenburgh continued his work on the edited diaries and journals of the nineteenth-century American Arctic explorer George W. Melville, to be published as The Great Arctic Searches.

Dr Terence Armstrong (Senior Associate) continued his work on the history of the Northern Sea Route as part of a collaborative project with Norwegian and Russian scholars, under the International Northern Sea Route Programme coordinated by the Fritjof Nansen Institute in Oslo. This sea route, if viable on a commercial scale, could revolutionise world shipping. David Anderson (Research Student, Social Science Group) also wrote a report for this programme.
Dr Armstrong died on 21 February 1996

Professor Ian Whitaker (Senior Associate) continued his studies on trade between the European Arctic and Middle East during the Middle Ages. He also conducted research on the changing patterns of reindeer management among Saami of Karesuando.

Dr Janet West, in collaboration with Arthur G. Credland, wrote Scrimshaw: the art of the whaler, the first British book specifically devoted to scrimshaw. It was published to accompany an exhibition entitled 'Time on their hands,' held in autumn 1995 at the Town Docks Museum in Hull.

Maria Pia Casarini-Wadhams (Research Student) continued research for her doctoral thesis entitled Lady Jane Franklin and her role in the Franklin searches, 1848-1860.' Using the 150 volumes of Franklin's diaries and correspondence housed in the SPRI archives, her thesis is an examination of the impact of Lady Franklin on the search expeditions, both those sent out by the Admiralty and those that were privately sponsored.