University Of Tasmania

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Multiple meanings within visual documentation of the Swedish South Polar Expedition (1901-1903) : the tension between emotive/aesthetic and analytic/scientific motifs

journal contribution
posted on 2023-05-19, 20:01 authored by Millar, P
This paper offers a discursive examination of visual documentation from Otto Nordenskjöld’s Swedish South Polar Expedition (1901–1903). Despite encountering major problems, the expedition conducted a comprehensive scientific programme and much visual documentation was included in the many books published by expedition members. All illustrators sought subjects in line with the scientific nature of the expedition, but systematic analytic/scientific motifs were often juxtaposed with emotive and aesthetic ones. Images contain textual arrangements and discursive practices, producing multi-layered cultural messages in which the creator, subject and viewer each plays a role, and which rely on cultural and historical contexts and on experiential knowledge. The images examined here draw in particular ways on prevailing Heroic Era discourses. Some have a special power to suggest psychological and emotional aspects of the expeditioners. They are a vivid record of their creators’ ways of seeing, and of their ways of resolving the tension between emotive/aesthetic and analytic/scientific motifs in documenting Antarctic exploration.


Publication title

The Polar Journal








Faculty of Education



Place of publication

United Kingdom

Rights statement

Copyright 2018 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group

Repository Status

  • Restricted

Socio-economic Objectives

Other education and training not elsewhere classified