Travellers and Travel Writing in Context

Dr. Sandra Vlasta 

Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz




Fields of Research

The proposed project focuses on travel writing and travelling authors from the late 18th to the early 20th century. To date, texts such as Sterne’s A Sentimental Journey Through France and Italy (1768), Goethe’s Italienische Reise (1816-29) [Italian Journey], Sand’s Un hiver à Majorque (1841) [A Winter in Majorca], Dickens’ Pictures from Italy (1846), Lewald’s Italienisches Bilderbuch (1847) [Italian Picture Book] or James’ Italian Hours (1909) have been analysed mainly within the respective literary studies, i.e. in English, German or French studies. The proposed project, on the contrary, suggests a comparative approach and a reading of the texts in their cultural, political, social, and literary context. A number of aspects will be at the centre of attention:

  1. an intertextual view, i.e. the relations between the various texts will be analysed;
  2. an imagological approach that focuses in particular on the travellers’ self-perception and their perception of other travellers;
  3. a postnational approach that reads the texts against the background of the nation state;
  4. eventually an approach that highlights the function and the reception of travel writing in the literary scene of the time.

Positioning of the Research within Mobility Discourse

  • Mobility: the authors of the texts in question are travelling writers; in their texts they describe (besides other issues) their experience of travelling.
  • Medial representation of mobility: travel writing and travelogues are a medial representation of (particular forms of) mobility, though of course one has to ask who is mobile and when, and who writes about it?
  • Aspects facilitating and resisting mobility: travel writing and travelogues negotiate the (political, cultural, social) relations between, on the one hand, the journey and travelling and, on the other hand, the home and being settled.