Search

The Spectral Arctic

A History of Dreams and Ghosts in Polar Exploration

Shane McCorristine

£22.99

ISBN: 9781787352469

Publication: May 01, 2018

Visitors to the Arctic enter places that have been traditionally imagined as otherworldly. This strangeness fascinated audiences in nineteenth-century Britain when the idea of the heroic explorer voyaging through unmapped zones reached its zenith. The Spectral Arctic re-thinks our understanding of Arctic exploration by paying attention to the importance of dreams and ghosts in the quest for the Northwest Passage.

The narratives of Arctic exploration that we are all familiar with today are just the tip of the iceberg: they disguise a great mass of mysterious and dimly lit stories beneath the surface. In contrast to oft-told tales of heroism and disaster, this book reveals the hidden stories of dreaming and haunted explorers, of frozen mummies, of rescue balloons, visits to Inuit shamans, and of the entranced female clairvoyants who travelled to the Arctic in search of John Franklin’s lost expedition. Through new readings of archival documents, exploration narratives, and fictional texts, these spectral stories reflect the complex ways that men and women actually thought about the far North in the past. This revisionist historical account allows us to make sense of current cultural and political concerns in the Canadian Arctic about the location of Franklin’s ships.  

Praise for The Spectral Arctic

'McCorrestine's is an impressive and often enjoyable study of the supernatural in 19th-century Britain and the Dominions; of Arctic exploration (with many pages on the neglected Inuit); and of mechanisms by which the penny press transmitted news of both to an attentive nation'
Times Higher Education (THE)

'[The Spectral Arctic] is a book I can only strongly recommend – a book that is both a fascinating and page-turning read, as well as a thorough scholarly engagement with historical, cultural, and political geographies. And, given its open access availability by UCL Press, I have no doubt it will reach a wide readership. Or, in my case, it will become a book I will return to again; this is a history that is still unfolding.'
ANTIPODE

'McCorristine opens avenues of analysis relevant to our contemporary understanding of the Arctic and he ends with a call to reorientate the way we think about polar explorers, emphasizing the significance they hold for us today'
Times Literary Supplement

'A deeply interesting work on the psychology of adventurers, The Spectral Arctic is a sound addition to the canon of Arctic exploration literature.'
Foreword Reviews

'This is a thought-provoking, inspiring book, important in its approach to the study of the supernatural, and timely in its challenge of polar exploration and cultural encounters in the Arctic.'
Reviews in History

'
There is so much… worth discussing in this book – from the power of dreams through to indigenous shamanism – but given it is available as a free PDF download, I simply recommend that you grab a copy and read through it yourself – it’s absolutely fascinating.’
Daily Grail

'Shades of Freud, Benjamin and Derrida help shape Shane McCorristine’s overarching claim that no history of British modernity is complete without a comprehensive revelation of its spectral dimensions. '
Polar Research

'There are many things to say about The Spectral Arctic. The most important message that I would like to convey to the readers of Polar Record is that this book is extremely relevant for different disciplines. It inspires self-reflection, opens up new views on Arctic exploration and makes the psychological effects for explorers and their peers ever more understandable. Needless to say that this book is a highly recommended read.'
Polar Record

'The Spectral Arctic argues that dreams and ghosts have long been a part of the Arctic landscape, yet the spectral productions of Inuit culture remain largely unexplored in the present work. The counter pole, the Antarctic, also offers a similar landscape and a fair share of ill-fated British expeditions. Which other spectral landscapes will the author explore next? That remains to be seen, but for now readers with a background in the field of history, geography or psychology can enjoy an in-depth examination of the far north, presented from an original perspective. It is highly recommended to any researcher interested in the captivating spectral geography of this place.'
The Polar Journal

Shane McCorristine FRHistS is a Lecturer in Modern British History at Newcastle University. He is an interdisciplinary cultural historian with interests in the ‘night side’ of modern experience, namely social attitudes to ghosts, dreams, death, and species extinction in the long nineteenth century. Born in Dublin, Ireland, he was educated at University College Dublin and has held several postdoctoral positions, in the UK and Ireland, including a Marie Curie Fellowship and Wellcome Trust Fellowship. He is the author of Spectres of the Self: Thinking about Ghosts and Ghost-seeing in England, 1750-1920 (2010) and William Corder and the Red Barn Murder: Journeys of the Criminal Body (2014).

Introduction: Arctic dreams
1. Toward no earthly pole: Otherworldly quests for a Northwest Passage
2. Spectral geographies of the Arctic: Shamanism, reveries, wandering
3. Mesmerism, clairvoyance and the search for the lost Franklin expedition
4. Spiritual routes and revelations: The Franklin mystery renewed
5. Polar queens, ghosts and mummies: Women in Arctic discourses
6. The spectral place of the Franklin expedition in contemporary culture
Afterword: The discoveries of the Erebus and Terror
Notes
Bibliography
Index 

'The Spectral Arctic argues that dreams and ghosts have long been a part of the Arctic landscape, yet the spectral productions of Inuit culture remain largely unexplored in the present work. The counter pole, the Antarctic, also offers a similar landscape and a fair share of ill-fated British expeditions. Which other spectral landscapes will the author explore next? That remains to be seen, but for now readers with a background in the field of history, geography or psychology can enjoy an in-depth examination of the far north, presented from an original perspective. It is highly recommended to any researcher interested in the captivating spectral geography of this place.'
  The Polar Journal

'There are many things to say about The Spectral Arctic. The most important message that I would like to convey to the readers of Polar Record is that this book is extremely relevant for different disciplines. It inspires self-reflection, opens up new views on Arctic exploration and makes the psychological effects for explorers and their peers ever more understandable. Needless to say that this book is a highly recommended read.'
  The Polar Record

'Shades of Freud, Benjamin and Derrida help shape Shane McCorristine’s overarching claim that no history of British modernity is complete without a comprehensive revelation of its spectral dimensions. '
  Polar Research

‘There is so much… worth discussing in this book – from the power of dreams through to indigenous shamanism – but given it is available as a free PDF download, I simply recommend that you grab a copy and read through it yourself – it’s absolutely fascinating.’
  Daily Grail

‘This is a thought-provoking, inspiring book, important in its approach to the study of the supernatural, and timely in its challenge of polar exploration and cultural encounters in the Arctic.’
  Reviews in History

'A deeply interesting work on the psychology of adventurers, The Spectral Arctic is a sound addition to the canon of Arctic exploration literature.'



  Foreword Reviews

'McCorristine opens avenues of analysis relevant to our contemporary understanding of the Arctic and he ends with a call to reorientate the way we think about polar explorers, emphasizing the significance they hold for us today'


  Times Literary Supplement

'McCorrestine's is an impressive and often enjoyable study of the supernatural in 19th-century Britain and the Dominions; of Arctic exploration (with many pages on the neglected Inuit); and of mechanisms by which the penny press transmitted news of both to an attentive nation'
  Times Higher Education (THE)

'[The Spectral Arctic] is a book I can only strongly recommend – a book that is both a fascinating and page-turning read, as well as a thorough scholarly engagement with historical, cultural, and political geographies. And, given its open access availability by UCL Press, I have no doubt it will reach a wide readership. Or, in my case, it will become a book I will return to again; this is a history that is still unfolding.'


  ANTIPODE

Format: Paperback

Size: 234 × 156 mm

276 Pages

Copyright: © 2018

ISBN: 9781787352469

Publication: May 01, 2018

Scroll to top