Gender On Ice: American Ideologies of Polar Expeditions (American Culture)
In this work, the author focuses on the conquest of the North Pole as she reveals how popular print and visual media, including photography and video, defined and shaped American national ideologies from the early 20th century to the present. She goes on to analyze gendered and racial constructions and idioms of American identity by examining the powerful and continuing cultural investment in the legacy of the so-called discovery of the North Pole in 1909, and the ongoing celebration of white explorers, such as Robert Peary, as "heroes". Her analysis of the polar expedition opens up contemporary questions in cultural studies about gender, race, male sexuality and social relations of science. Bloom demonstrates how the North Pole's literal emptiness made polar expedition appear in the dominant media as an intrinsically pure field of knowledge, rather than a form of colonial discourse. She portrays the National Geographic Society as a magazine and institution that tied itself to the national image of the United States in the early 20th century and seized the poles and polar expeditions as a metaphor for modernity and progress. By focusing on the development and legitimation of an American national discourse and identity that excludes women and people of colour, "Gender on Ice" offers a significant contribution to current debates on multiculturalism.