2017 AM Expedition Narratives: Literary Representations of British Polar Exploration in the Long Nineteenth Century

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  • Time: Tue, 08:00-10:00
  • Venue: A01 0-010 b
  • Course: 3.02.150
  • Lecturer: Anna Auguscik
  • Modul: ang615 Motifs - Themes - Issues (and their Media)
  • Course Description:

Our knowledge of the history of voyages of exploration is largely based on our knowledge of expedition narratives: most of what we know about the journeys of these (mostly) men is based on written accounts. These accounts are partly authored by the explorers themselves (logbooks, diaries, journals, memoirs, scientific papers) and partly penned by others: fellow explorers, biographers, novelists.

In this course, we will focus on representations of the British exploration of the Polar Regions in the long nineteenth century. In particular, we will read various texts based on and inspired by John Franklin’s ‘Lost Expedition’ (1845) and Robert Falcon Scott’s ‘Terra Nova Expedition’ (1910-13). For the Arctic Region, we will read Wilkie Collins’s The Frozen Deep (1874), Robert Edric’s The Broken Lands (1992) and Richard Flanagan’s Wanting (2008). For the Antarctic Region, we will read Apsley Cherry-Garrard’s The Worst Journey in the World (1922), Beryl Bainbridge’s The Birthday Boys (1991), Kim Stanley Robinson’s Antarctica (1998) and Rebecca Hunt’s Everland (2014).

The various non-fictional and fictional texts, literary and genre novels, historical and contemporary texts will allow us to examine the following questions: What plots/themes/motifs/character constellations are typical of the expedition narrative (e.g. in reference to Empire, Englishness, masculinity, or science and culture)? What specific narrative strategies do we find (e.g. multiple narrators, intertextuality, genre mix)? How do these accounts handle the relationship between 'fact' and 'fiction'? What is the motivation for re-narrating these expeditions? What effects might they have on the (contemporary) image of these explorers?

PLEASE NOTE: Beryl Bainbridge's The Birthday Boys will be made available at the CvO bookshop. Robert Edric's The Broken Lands is currently out of print. Several second-hand copies can be acquired in my office (EUR 5). If you use an e-book version, please make sure to have a reading device with you in each session (cf. e.g. www.buecher.de, EUR 6,99) Please, contact me if you have difficulties with obtaining the book.

  • Additional materials for preparation, as well as the detailed syllabus, will be made available here and/or on Stud.IP. There will be a Handapparat in our library.
  • Course Requirements
  • Requirements for 6 KP: regular attendance and a (oral/)written contribution in the form of either a presentation + written outline (10-12 pp) or seminar paper (15 pp), with based on the topic of the seminar.
  • As part of the "Aktive Teilnahme" regulation:
    Die aktive Teilnahme besteht aus folgenden Komponenten
    - regelmäßige Anwesenheit: max. 2 Abwesenheiten und gegebenenfalls Nacharbeit
    - Vor- und Nachbereitung des Seminarstoffs (Expertengruppen, Vorbereitung/Lektüre von Texten) 
    - Entwicklung einer wissenschaftlichen Fragestellung aus dem Problembereich des Seminars, durch:
      *Übernahme von Ergebnispräsentationen und 
      *(nur falls Seminararbeit angestrebt, verschriftlicht, ansonsten als Teil der Präsentation) 
       Entwicklung einer Research Paper Outline im Laufe des Semesters (die Zeitangaben verstehen sich als Empfehlungen): 
       Wahl eines Themenbereichs (bis 25.April),
       Abstract mit Fragestellung inkl. Forschungsbibliographie (RPO) (bis 27.Juni), 
       Vorstellung der Fragestellung in der letzten Semestersitzung.

Session 1 Tue, 04 April

Session 2 Tue, 11 April

  • Historical and Theoretical Contexts: The Age of Exploration and Historical Fiction
  • Excerpts from:
  • R. Davis, "History or His/story? The Explorer cum Author." Studies in Canadian Literature / Etudes en litterature canadienne 16. 2 (1991): n.pag.
  • Edmund Burke III, "Modernity’s Histories: Rethinking the Long Nineteenth Century, 1750-1950." UC World History Workshop, 2000.
  • Mike Pearson, "'No Joke in Petticoats' British Polar Expeditions and Their Theatrical Presentations." The Drama Review 48. 1 (Spring 2004): 44-59.

Session 3 Tue, 18 April

  • Textual Analysis 1: Robert Edric, The Broken Lands (1992)
  • Handout:Narratology
  • Close Reading: Chapter VII, pp.56-59: "A fight"

Session 4 Tue, 25 April

  • Textual Analysis 2: Beryl Bainbridge, The Birthday Boys (1991)
  • Handout: Narratology
  • Close Reading

Session 5 Tue, 02 May

  • Textual Analysis 3: Pre-Texts and Inter-Texts
  • Group Work with Expert Texts
  • Handout: Narratology
  • Close Readings

Session 6 Tue, 09 May

  • Centre and Periphery: Semantic Space and Sublime Landscapes
  • Class reading:
  • excerpts from Lotman and Loomis (cf. handout)
  • Presenters' reading:
  • Jurij M. Lotman. Die Struktur Literarischer Texte. München: Fink, 1972. [Excerpt: 311-347.]
  • Chancey C. Loomis. "The Arctic Sublime." Nature and the Victorian Imagination. Eds. U.C. Knoepflmacher and G.B. Tennyson. Berkeley: U of California P; 1977. 95-112.
  • Further reading:

Session 7 Tue, 16 May

  • The Age of Exploration: Empire and Imperialism
  • Class reading:
  • Presenters' reading:
  • Klaus Dodds and Mark Nuttall. The Scramble for the Poles: The Geopolitics of the Arctica and the Antarctic. Cambridge: Polity, 2016. (Preface and Chapter 1: "Scrambling for the Extraordinary.")
  • John Wylie. "Earthly Poles: The Antarctic Voyages of Scott and Amundsen." Postcolonial Geographies. Eds. Alison Blunt and Cheryl McEwan. London et al.: Continuum, 2002. 169-83.
  • Further reading:
  • Mary Louise Pratt. Imperial Eyes: Travel Writing and Transculturation. London: Routledge, 1992.
  • Christy Collis. "The Voyage of the Episteme: Narrating the North." Essays on Canadian Writing 59 (Fall 1996): 26-45.
  • Jen Hill. "National Bodies: Robert Southey's Life of Nelson and John Franklin's Narrative of a Journey to the Shores of the Polar Sea." Nineteenth-Century Literature 61.4 (Mar 2007): 417-48.
  • Jen Hill. White Horizon: The Arctic in the Nineteenth-Century British Imagination. Albany, NY: State U of New York P, 2008.

Session 8 Tue, 23 May

  • Neighbours and Natives: Englishness and its 'Other'
  • Class reading:
  • Presenters' reading:
  • Further reading:
  • Edward Said. Orientalism. New York: Pantheon, 1978.
  • Exploration and that Dangerous 'Other': The Deaths of Captains Cook and Franklin By: Parkinson, Edward pp. 25-42 IN: Rieder, John (ed. and introd.); Smith, Larry E. (ed.) Multiculturalism and Representation: Selected Essays. Honolulu, HI: U of Hawaii P; 1996.

Session 9 Tue, 30 May

  • Gendered Expeditions: Masculinity, Homoeroticism and the Woman at Home
  • Class reading:
  • Presenters' reading:
  • Further reading:

Session 10 Tue, 06 June

  • Surgeons on Ice: Representations of Science and Scientists
  • Class reading:
  • Presenters' reading:
  • Further reading:

Session 11 Tue, 13 June

  • Gothic, Ghosts and Polar Genres I
  • Class reading:
  • Presenters' reading:
  • Further reading:

Session 12 Tue, 20 June

  • Gothic, Ghosts and Polar Genres II
  • Class reading:
  • Presenters' reading:
  • Further reading:

Session 13 Tue, 27 June

  • Final Discussion
  • evaluation
  [Hand in RPOs until 27 June at the latest]

Session 14 Tue, 04 July

  • discussion of RPOs
  • feedback on evaluation
  [Hand in research papers until 15 August]



Expedition Narrative

  • Patricia Gilmartin, "Women Explorers." The Oxford Companion to World Exploration. Oxford: OUP, 2007. n.p.

On Franklin's Last Expedition

  • Craciun, Adriana. “The Franklin Relics in the Arctic Archive.” Victorian Literature and Culture 42.1 (2014): 1-31.
  • McCorristine, Shane. “The Spectral Presence of the Franklin Expedition in Contemporary Fiction.” Critique: Studies in Contemporary Fiction 55.1 (2014): 60-73.
  • Kennedy, Victor. “An Exploration of Canadian Identity in Recent Literary Narratives of the Franklin Expeditions.” ELOPE: English Language Overseas Perspectives and Enquiries 3. 1-2 (2006): 193-200.
  • Collis, Christy. “Vertical Body/Horizontal World: Sir John Franklin and Fictions of Arctic Space.” The Body in the Library. Ed. and introd. Leigh Dale and Simon Ryan. Amsterdam, Netherlands: Rodopi, 1998. 225-36.

On Scotts Terranova Expedition

Wilkie Collins, The Frozen Deep (1874)

  • Davis-Fisch, Heather. Loss and Cultural Remains in Performance: The Ghosts of the Franklin Expedition. Palgrave Macmillan, 2012.
  • Kofron, John. "Dickens, Collins, and the Influence of the Arctic." Dickens Studies Annual: Essays on Victorian Fiction 40 (2009): 81-93.
  • Hill, Jen. "Arctic Highlanders and Englishmen: Dickens, Cannibalism, and Sensation." White Horizon: The Arctic in the Nineteenth-Century British Imagination. SUNY, 2008, xx-xx.
  • Costantini, Mariaconcetta. "The Lure of the 'Frozen Deep': Nineteenth-Century Variations of a Gothic Trope." Rivista Di Studi Vittoriani 11. 22 (July 2006): 7-43.
  • Behrisch, Erika. "On the Trail of an Arctic Tale: Tracing Sir John Franklin in Charles Dickens and Wilkie Collins's the Frozen Deep." Storytelling: Interdisciplinary and Intercultural Perspectives. Eds. Irene Maria F. Blayer and Monica Sanchez, Peter Lang, 2002. 58-71.
  • Nayder, Lillian. Unequal Partners: Charles Dickens, Wilkie Collins, and Victorian Authorship. Cornell UP, 2002.
  • Howe, Winona. "Charles Dickens and the 'Last Resource': Arctic Cannibalism and the Frozen Deep." Cahiers Victoriens Et Edouardiens 44 (Oct. 1996): 61-83.
  • Nayder, Lillian. "The Cannibal, the Nurse, and the Cook in Dickens's the Frozen Deep." Victorian Literature and Culture 19 (1991): 1-24.
  • Carr, Jean Ferguson. "Dicken's Theatre of Knowledge." Dramatic Dickens. Ed. Carol Hanbery. MacKay, St. Martin's, 1989. 27-44.
  • Brannan, Robert Louis, ed. Under the Management of Mr. Charles Dickens: His Production of the Frozen Deep. Cornell UP, 1966.

Apsley Cherry-Garrard, The Worst Jounrey in the World (1922)

  • Brazzelli, Nicoletta. "A Symbolic Geography of Ice: Apsley Cherry-Garrard and Modernity." The Politics and Poetics of Displacement: Modernism off the Beaten Track. Eds. Massimo Bacigalupo, Luisa Villa. Pasian, Italy: Campanotto, 2011. 45-57, 160.
  • Suchy, Patricia A. "Dangerous Shores and Disoriented Penguins in Beyond the Utmost Bound: A Performance about Antarctic Exploration." Text and Performance Quarterly 36.1 (Jan 2016): 34-56.
  • Leane, Elizabeth. "Eggs, Emperors and Empire: Apsley Cherry-Garrard's 'Worst Journey' as Imperial Quest Romance." Kunapipi: Journal of Postcolonial Writing 31.2 (2009): 15-31.

Richard Flanagan, Wanting (2008)

  • Wilson, Rohan. "Extinction Discourse in Wanting and Doctor Wooreddy's Prescription for Enduring the Ending of the World." Antipodes: A North American Journal of Australian Literature 29.1 (June 2015): 5-17.
  • Chialant, Maria Teresa. "Dickens, the Antipodes and the Neo-Victorian Novel: Richard Flanagan's Wanting." Reflections On/Of Dickens. Eds. Ewa Kujawska-Lis and Anna Krawczyk-Łaskarzewska. Cambridge Scholars, 2014. 208-221.
  • Steveker, Lena. "'Eminent Victorians' and Neo-Victorian Fictional Biography." Neo-Victorian Literature and Culture: Immersions and Revisitations. Eds. Nadine Boehm-Schnitker and Susanne Gruss, Routledge, 2014. 67-78.
  • Johnson, Amanda. "Making an Expedition of Herself: Lady Jane Franklin as Queen of the Tasmanian Extinction Narrative." Journal of the Association for the Study of Australian Literature 14. 5 (2014): n.p.
  • Deyo, Brian Daniel. "Rewriting History/Animality in J. M. Coetzee's Dusklands And Richard Flanagan's Wanting." ARIEL: A Review of International English Literature 44.4 (Oct. 2013): 89-116.
  • Lanone, Catherine. "Revisiting Great Expectations. The Postcolonial Persistence of Dickens." Etudes Anglaises: Revue Du Monde Anglophone 65.1 (Jan. 2012): 19-29.
  • Lynch, Gay. "Intertextuality as Discord: Richard Flanagan's Wanting (2008)." The Shadow of the Precursor. Eds. Diana Glenn, et al., Cambridge Scholars, 2012. 236-254.



Beryl Bainbridge, The Birthday Boys (1991)

Robert Edric, The Broken Lands (1992)

  • Kate Ayers, Rev. of Robert Edric's The Broken Lands, bookreporter.com, February 23, 2002 [1]
  • Russell A. Potter, Rev. of Robert Edric's The Broken Lands [2]
  • Rev. of Robert Edric's The Broken Lands, Publishers Weekly 11/19/2001 [3]
  • Rev. of Robert Edric's The Broken Lands, Kirkus Review Nov. 15th, 2001 [4]
  • Rev. of Robert Edric's The Borken Lands, by Juliet Waldron, HNR 20(May 2002) [5]

Kim Stanley Robinson, Antarctica (1998)

Richard Flanagan, Wanting (2008)

Rebecca Hunt, Everland (2014)

Further Reading

  • Mary Louise Pratt. Imperial Eyes: Travel Writing and Transculturation. London: Routledge, 1992.
  • Driver, Felix. Geography Militant: Cultures of Exploration and Empire. Oxford: Blackwell, 2001.
  • Simon Gikandi. Maps of Englishness: Writing Identity in the Culture of Colonialism. Columbia University Press, 1997.
  • Patrick Parrinder. "Character, Identity and Nationality in the English Novel." Landscape and Englishness. Eds Robert Burden and Stephen Kohl. New York: Rodopi, 2006.
  • Christy Collis. "Vertical Body/Horizontal World: Sir John Franklin and Fictions of Arctic Space." The Body in the Library. Eds. Leigh Dale, Simon Ryan. Amsterdam: Rodopi, 1998. 225-36. (cf. also contribution on Leichhardt)
  • Riffenburgh, Beau. "Jules Verne and the Conquest of the Polar Regions." Polar Record 27.162 (1991): 237-40. Print.
  • Fjagesund, Peter. The Dream of the North: A Cultural History to 1920. Amsterdam and New York: Rodopi, 2014.
  • Carroll, Siobhan. An Empire of Air and Water: Uncolonizable Space in the British Imagination, 1750-1850. Philadelphia: U of Pennsylvania P, 2015.
  • Leane, Elizabeth. Antarctica in Fiction: Imaginative Narratives of the Far South. Cambridge: CUP, 2012.
  • Spufford, Frances. I May be Some Time: Ice and the English Imagination. Faber & Faber, 1996.
  • Eds. Klaus Dodds, Alan D. Hemmings, Peder Roberts, Handbook on the Politics of Antarctica. Edward Elgar, 2017.


  • “One of the jobs of historical novelists is to uncover those secret histories which, for one reason or another, professional historians have overlooked. Often this involves the apperception of a narrative where others might simply have seen discontinuities.” --Giles Foden, rev. of Richard Flanagan’s Wanting, Guardian, 26 Sept 2009
  • "The ship is the heterotopia par excellence. In civilizations without boats, dreams dry up, espionage takes the place of adventure, and the police take the place of pirates." (Foucault 1986: 27)