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How did the Victorian fixation on the disastrous John Franklin expedition transform our understanding of the Northwest Passage and the Arctic? Today we still tend to see the Arctic and the Northwest Passage through nineteenth-century perspectives, which focused on the discoveries of individual explorers, their illustrated books, visual culture, imperial ambitions, and high-profile disasters. However, the farther back one looks, the more striking the differences appear in how Arctic exploration was envisioned. Writing Arctic Disaster uncovers a wide range of exploration cultures: from the manuscripts of secretive corporations like the Hudson's Bay Company, to the nationalist Admiralty and its innovative illustrated books, to the searches for and exhibits of disaster relics in the Victorian era. This innovative study reveals the dangerous afterlife of this Victorian conflation of exploration and disaster, in the geopolitical significance accruing around the 2014 discovery of Franklin's ship Erebus in the Northwest Passage.
Introduction: Northwest passages and exploration cultures
1. Arctic archives: Victorian relics, sites, collections
2. Exploration, publication, and inscription in the Age of Murray
3. Building upon disaster: adventurers in Hudson Bay
4. The famous mark of our discovery: social authorship and arctic inscriptions
5. Broken lands and lost relics: the Victorian rediscovery of the early modern Arctic
Epilogue: Franklin found and lost
Adriana Craciun is Presidential Chair at the University of California, Riverside. Her books include Fatal Women of Romanticism (Cambridge, 2003), British Women Writers and the French Revolution: Citizens of the World (2005), The Material Cultures of Enlightenment Arts and Sciences (with Simon Schaffer, forthcoming in 2015), and several collections and editions.