Cold Storage: A Media History of the Glacier


Mellon/ACLS Dissertation Completion Fellowships


Film and Media


In recent years, climate change has forced a reconceptualization of nature as historical, or subject to change over time. This critical historiographical inquiry examines the role played by visual and communications media in this epistemic shift. The project focuses on two moments of heightened popular fascination with glacial regions—the present and the early twentieth century—with attention to how popular media produce an idea of nature not as static or eternal, but in constant dynamic motion. Chapters address early twentieth-century exploration films; popular German cinema of the 1920s; contemporary documentary; and data visualization practices that use the glacier itself as an archival medium of natural history. The vast temporal and spatial scales of environmental historicity make it conceptually available only through technological mediation, and demand an examination of the social, economic, and political forces shaping media technologies to understand conceptions of nature in a Western historical tradition.