Professor Ryan will address: (1) Christoph Ransmayr's novel Die Schrecken des Eises und der Finsternis (1984), which recounts both a real and a fictional expedition to the North Pole, and (2) the middle section of W.G. Sebald's long poem "Nach der Natur" (1989), which focuses on the journey of the naturalist Georg Wilhelm Steller from Kamchatka to Alaska. The title of the talk is drawn from Ransmayr's novel. In that context, the phrase refers to the fact that the different members of the historical expedition each experience the journey through the ice (their boat gets stuck in the ice for a long time) in very different ways. The speaker's central question, then, has to do with the relation of these two postmodern texts to the traditional narrative of the heroic individual engaged in a struggle with the forces of nature in the icy wastelands of the Arctic. Professor Ryan will bring a handout with some excerpts from the two works, and will also show some images in a Powerpoint presentation.