The Challenger Expedition (1872-1876)

Making the Oceans Visible:

Science and Technology on the Challenger Expedition (1872-1876)

The British naval corvette HMS Challenger circumnavigated the globe from 1872 to 1876 on a mission to explore the mysteries of the deep ocean. The voyage was propelled by wind and steam-power, and utilized dredges, sounders, and tow nets to discover over four thousand new species and to map some of the very deepest ocean realms, including the Challenger Deep, now known as the Mariana Trench.

My PhD thesis considers how technologies and practices on the Challenger expedition were used to make knowledge of the oceans. How did the ocean depths, opaque to science in the previous century, become visible in the nineteenth?

Attending to the movement of instruments, natural history specimens, and material images associated with the voyage produces an alternative narrative of the Challenger expedition and provides opportunities to cross boundaries of discipline, time and geography.