Polar Exploration: Jean McNeil and Dr Michael Bravo
A decade ago, novelist and short story writer Jean McNeil spent a year as writer-in-residence with the British Antarctic Survey, and four months on the world’s most enigmatic continent ― Antarctica. Access to the Antarctic remains largely reserved for scientists, and it is the only piece of earth that is nobody’s country. Ice Diaries is the story of McNeil’s years spent in ice, not only in the Antarctic but her subsequent travels to Greenland, Iceland, and Svalbard, culminating in a strange event in Cape Town, South Africa, where she journeyed to make what was to be her final trip to the southernmost continent. Jean mixes travelogue, popular science, and memoir to examine the history of our fascination with ice unexpectedly finds herself confronting her own upbringing in the Maritimes, the lifelong effects of growing up in a cold place, and how the climates of childhood frame our emotional thermodynamics for life.
Michael Bravo, Head of Circumpolar History and Public Policy Research at the Scott Polar Research Institute, has spent thirty-five years travelling, researching, and writing about the Arctic world. From an early age he was captivated by the oral traditions and indigenous knowledge of northern peoples. He has worked collaboratively with Sami as well as Inuit hunters, artists and elders, exploring the history of encounters with western travellers through a cross-cultural lens. In North Pole, Bravo sets his sights on the most mysterious polar symbol of our planet, the North Pole itself. Michael shows how visions of the North Pole have been supremely important to the world’s cultures and political leaders, from Alexander the Great to Hindu nationalists. Tracing poles and polarity back to sacred ancient civilizations, this book explores how the idea of a North Pole has given rise to utopias, satires, fantasies, paradoxes, science fiction and nationalist ideologies, from the cartographers of the Renaissance to the mystics of the Third Reich.
We bring these two polar extremes together for what promises to be a compelling evening.