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Dick, Lyle. "Robert Peary's North Polar Narratives and the Making of an American Icon." American Studies 45, no. 2 (2004): 5-34.


Dick’s article discusses the “Race to the Pole” controversy regarding who got to the North Pole first: Robert Peary or Frederick Cook? The article focuses on how the explorers and their teams presented and disseminated their findings, and how their various supporters’ actions led to Peary’s claims being acknowledged as accurate in the American historical narrative. The article also looks at how gender and race were portrayed in the explorers’ historical records, examining the question, “Why did the North Pole become such a preoccupation for prominent male Anglo-Saxon Americans around 1900?” (6) Peary’s achievements were ultimately given more credence as he was portrayed as an iconic Anglo-Saxon pioneer: Peary’s expedition demonstrated “the attributes of national character that could assure American success in the emerging capitalist competition between nations… his ‘fighting virtues’ and other attributes were prescribed as a model of American identity” (26) and the symbol of American global supremacy.

Shannon Leggett