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Robinson, Michael F. 1966–

Robinson, Michael F. 1966–

(Michael Frederick Robinson)

PERSONAL:

Born December 15, 1966. Education: University of Wisconsin, Madison, Ph.D., 2002.

ADDRESSES:

Office—316 Hillyer Hall, 200 Bloomfield Ave., West Hartford, CT 06117. E-mail—[email protected]

CAREER:

Writer, historian, and educator. University of Hartford, West Hartford, CT, assistant professor of history, 2002—. University of Southern Maine, Osher Map Library, guest curator.

WRITINGS:

The Coldest Crucible: Arctic Exploration and American Culture, University of Chicago Press (Chicago, IL), 2006.

SIDELIGHTS:

Writer and historian Michael F. Robinson was born December 15, 1966. After graduating with his Ph.D. in the history of science in 2002 from the University of Wisconsin in Madison, he accepted an assistant professorial post at the University of Hartford in Connecticut. He has taught numerous history courses, including "Atlantic History," "Discovering America," and "The History of American Life," and he has served as a guest curator for the Osher Map Library's American Arctic exploration exhibit at the University of Southern Maine.

Robinson's The Coldest Crucible: Arctic Exploration and American Culture was published in 2006 by the University of Chicago Press. The text focuses on the period of American Arctic exploration during the end of the nineteenth century and the beginning of the twentieth century. Robinson initially discusses the Lewis and Clark expedition and the growing sense of cultural and scientific competition that existed between Great Britain and the United States, which, in turn, prompted a greater interest in Arctic exploration. Richard C. Davis, in an article for the Canadian Journal of History, observed that the text raises such questions as: "What role did scientific societies play in encouraging Congress to set aside funds for an expedition?" and "How did lecture tours, book-length narratives, and newspaper articles portray past expeditions and promote future ones?" Davis also noted that the text is divided into several chapters that "address the various expeditions of Elisha Kent Kane, Isaac Hayes and Charles Hall, Adolphus Greely, Walter Wellman, and early Robert Peary," which demonstrate "the diminishing role of science and the increasing focus on the character of the explorer over the decades."

Journal of American History contributor Kelly L. Lankford stated that "Robinson also characterizes the later-nineteenth-century explorers as being at the mercy of an increasingly sensationalized press." Using primary sources such as newspaper reports and other published accounts, the text seeks to explain how society's curiosity mitigated the funding and the renewed interests of explorers for discovering that region. Lankford stated that The Coldest Crucible "is the ideal book for those who want to understand why Arctic exploration mattered to generations of Americans between 1850 and 1912 and how that story revealed far more about the United States than it did about the Arctic." Moreover, reviewer John McCannon, in an essay for the American Historical Review, acknowledged: "Rather than providing a comprehensive survey of U.S. activities in the far north, Robinson subjects a series of polar expeditions to close examination, showing how each, over time, mirrored changing concerns, aspirations, and ideals in America itself."

BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:

PERIODICALS

American Historical Review, April 1, 2007, John McCannon, review of The Coldest Crucible: Arctic Exploration and American Culture, p. 545.

Canadian Journal of History, March 22, 2007, Richard C. Davis, review of The Coldest Crucible.

Journal of American History, June 1, 2007, Kelly L. Lankford, review of The Coldest Crucible, p. 301.

Journal of American Studies, August 1, 2007, Terry Gifford, review of The Coldest Crucible, p. 492.

Reviews in American History, March 1, 2007, "The Right Stuff," p. 77.

Times Literary Supplement, December 22, 2006, Jonathan Dore, review of The Coldest Crucible, p. 39.

ONLINE

University of Hartford Web site,http://uhaweb.hartford.edu/ (June 11, 2008), faculty profile.

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