I’m hosting the discussion this week, and since we’re not having class tomorrow to discuss this text I wanted to offer a little bit of what I’ve been thinking about in terms of discussion questions. We’ll certainly be able to talk about these things and several others when we meet on Thursday, but I figure that it’ll be helpful to be able to think some of these things through a little bit before class—especially if we’re going to be spending only one day discussing it. I also have a few links for everyone to check out—this is the first expedition we’ve studied with an artist and a photographer documenting as well as fully participating in the adventure, so there's some cool stuff out there.
To start, I’m really excited to delve into this story, I think its unbelievably interesting and hits on some of the things we’ve been talking about all semester. I’ve known the basic story of this expedition from other texts, but this was my first time reading Lansing’s account and I found it really engaging. I read Shackleton’s own account of the voyage years ago, and even though I don’t remember it quite well enough to ably compare them, knowing the events of the story ahead of time helped me focus on Lansing’s choices, delivery and depiction of the narrative rather than just the shocking facts. I do remember Shackleton’s account being pretty dry, so Lansing’s journalistic skill definitely improved the experience somewhat.
Basically, one of the most important things I want to ask is what do we think Lansing aimed to accomplish with this narrative, and do we think he was successful? We’ve talked a lot about an adventurer’s duty to write about or tell their stories, but obviously that doesn’t apply here because, unlike most of the other books we’ve read, the author wasn’t a participant in the events he’s describing. Further, do we see any bias or unnecessary sensualization going on here? These issues are two that I really want to tackle in class, along with Lansing’s portrayal of Shackleton, the concept of heroism, the ways this narrative further complicates our definition of adventure and more. See everyone on Thursday!
Some cool Endurance stuff on the internet:
Some of Hurley's video footage of the Endurance sailing through ice:
Super detailed biographies of every crewmember, with pictures
Interactive Kodak feature on Hurley as a photographer, with some cool color photos
Page for the school in London where you can still visit the James Caird.