Guest Lecture by Graham Huggan

Sperm Count: The Scoresbys and the North

04. Mai 2017, 18:00 in Cas 1.811 – Scoresby is a familiar name for all those interested in the confluence of British maritime history and Northern exploration. Two Scoresbys, to be precise: William Senior, a towering figure in the history of late eighteenth-century commercial whaling; and William Junior, a post-Enlightenment ‘improver’ whose religious beliefs would neither compromise his dogged scientific rationalism nor his considerable entrepreneurial flair.

Two Norths as well: for Whitby, the Scoresbys’ home town in Yorkshire, was not only one of the most important eighteenth- and nineteenth-century British whaling ports, but would also provide the base for both men’s enterprising forays into the Arctic, which –in Scoresby Junior’s case in particular– sought to reconcile industrial (mercantile) ambitions with scientific (natural-historical) claims. This talk uses the two Scoresbys to explore some of the hyper-masculinist myths that continue to surround narratives of whale hunting and Arctic exploration, embedding both of these within the long history of capitalist modernity as well as contemporaneous networks of British imperial history and European mercantile trade.

Graham Huggan teaches in the School of English at the University of Leeds, where his research straddles three fields: postcolonial studies, environmental humanities, and tourism studies. Among recent publications are Nature’s Saviours: Celebrity Conservationists in the Television Age and the Oxford Handbook of Postcolonial Studies, which he sole-edited. He is currently working on a book on whales.