A Scot of the Antarctic: the reception and commemoration of William Speirs Bruce
Keighren, Innes M
2002–2004 marks the centenary of the Scottish National Antarctic Expedition. Led by the Scots naturalist and oceanographer William Speirs Bruce (1867–1921), the Expedition, a two-year exploration of the Weddell Sea, was an exercise in scientific accumulation, rather than territorial acquisition. Distinct in its focus from that of other expeditions undertaken during the 'Heroic Age' of polar exploration, the Scottish National Antarctic Expedition, and Bruce in particular, were subject to a distinct press interpretation. From an examination of contemporary newspaper reports, this thesis traces the popular reception of Bruce—revealing how geographies of reporting and of reading engendered locally particular understandings of him. Inspired, too, by recent work in the history of science outlining the constitutive significance of place, this study considers the influence of certain important spaces—venues of collection, analysis, and display—on the conception, communication, and reception of Bruce's polar knowledge. Finally, from the perspective afforded by the centenary of his Scottish National Antarctic Expedition, this paper illustrates how space and place have conspired, also, to direct Bruce's 'commemorative trajectory'—to define the ways in which, and by whom, Bruce has been remembered since his death.