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SPRI Review 2000: SPRI Review 2000

SPRI Review 2000

Polar History and Humanities Group

Dr B. Riffenburgh
H.G.R. King, P. Speak, Dr J. West, M.P. Casarini-Wadhams
Dr E. Cruwys, Professor K.B. Shabby, Dr T.R.D. Grade

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. The work of its corresponding members, including Professor William Barr, Professor Richard Davis, Professor P.J. Capelotti, and Ian R. Stone appeared in Polar Record and numerous other publications.

Dr Beau Riffenburgh completed the text of his book Popular imperialism and exploration, which examines the roles of the Anglo-American popular press and other aspects of popular culture in the creation, dissemination, and effect of imperial heroic exploration myths in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, and the relationships of those myths to European and American imperialism, expansionism, and nationalism. He also continued research and writing on his biography of Victorian journalist W.T. Stead.

Dr Riffenburgh was involved in the planning and preparation of a field season in Zemlya Frantsa Iosifa, which required numerous meetings and communications not only with the other members of the expedition but with Russian officials. Dr Riffenburgh was scheduled to be the historian for this upcoming British-American-Norwegian expedition, which, amongst other research projects, includes his study of the North Polar expeditions led by Evelyn Baldwin and Anthony Fiala, which used Zemlya Frantsa Iosifa as a base in the first decade of the twentieth century. The research for and writing of Dr Riffenburgh's book about Baldwin and his expedition has continued.

The research collaboration among Dr Riffenburgh, Professor K.B. Shabby, and Dr T.R.D. Grade into scurvy and other aspects of nutrition on polar expeditions continues to provide exciting and, on some occasions, unexpected results.

Dr Elizabeth Cruwys and Dr Riffenburgh edited a new edition of H.G. Ponting's classic work The great white south, which was published late in 1999. Dr Riffenburgh also served as a member of the editorial board and he and Dr Cruwys were both primary writers for the major publication The Literature of travel and exploration, due to be published in 2001. They also wrote a series of biographies of Antarctic explorers that appeared in a recent publication released by Ocean Explorer Publications.

Dr Riffenburgh gave invited lectures or papers at universities, conferences, or meetings in Britain, the United States, Canada, New Zealand, and Argentina. Some of these lecturing opportunities also allowed him to engage in study and research in museums or archives not easily accessible from Cambridge. In January-February 2000 Drs Riffenburgh and Cruwys lectured aboard Antarctic cruise ships, allowing them an excellent opportunity of uniting theoretical and practical knowledge of differing parts of Antarctica.

A series of invited lectures in the region of the Falkland Islands allowed Dr Cruwys to spend time at various sites in that archipelago and to advance her research into and writing of her book The history and natural history of the Falkland Islands. She also continued her long-term research into the history of the sealing industry.

Dr Janet West completed her research on the shipping images engraved on the scrimshaw at the Institute in preparation for a catalogue of the collection. She completed her survey of the scrimshaw of Frederick Myrick of Nantucket in collaboration with the Kendall Whaling Museum, Sharon, Massachusetts. This involved a microscopic investigation of Myrick's engraving techniques and an analysis of the variants of his motifs. In a separate study, she documented the rig and rigging of the whaleships Susan and Barclay of Nantucket, Frances of New Bedford, and Ann of London, which Myrick portrayed ca. 1829. Dr West also assisted with the cataloguing of an important scrimshaw collection that was donated to the Hull Maritime Museum and is now on display there.

Maria Pia Casarini-Wadhams (Research Student) continued her research on the role played by Lady Franklin in the searches for the lost Franklin Northwest Passage expedition of 1845.