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CFP: Modes of Transport: Travel Writing and Form, 1780-1914 (2/18, 5/26-5/27/2011)

An interdisciplinary conference at King’s College London,

26 & 27 May 2011

Keynote speakers: Mary Beard (Cambridge), Dane Kennedy (George Washington), and Dea Birkett (The Guardian)

There has always been a certain amount of unease and anxiety about how best to mould the quotidian, often repetitious, experience of travel into a digestible, literary narrative. The travel writer cannibalises other modes of literary, geographical, and scientific writing, while simultaneously forging experimental, innovative and dynamic forms in the struggle to represent the heterogeneous and often chaotic experience of travel. It is the aim of this two-day conference to bring together academic researchers and professional travel writers in order to explore the relationship between travel writing and formal innovation in a variety of media across the long-nineteenth century. As Franco Moretti has suggested, "new space gives rise to a new form," and the period 1780-1914 saw the rise of both new technologies of movement and new categories of traveller. We are specifically interested in how new perspectives, networks, and markets enabled by these developments impacted upon literary and media form and how literature in turn affected the ways in which people travelled.

We welcome papers from across a range of academic disciplines, including history, literature, art history, media history, geography and classics. Topics may include but are not limited to:

  • Journals and diaries
  • Scrapbooks and ephemera
  • Souvenirs
  • Postcards
  • Guides and guidebooks
  • Translators
  • Travel journalism
  • Travel in verse
  • Travel on the stage
  • Sentimental journeys
  • Boring journeys
  • Tourists in literature; literary tourists
  • Colonial / postcolonial forms
  • Reading / drawing maps
  • Geography and ethnography
  • Repetition
  • The portable canon
  • Gendered forms

We invite proposals for 20-minute papers from researchers at all stages in their careers. Please send your proposal (max. 250 words) and a brief biography to travelconference@gmail.com by 18 February 2011. Informal enquiries may also be directed to Mary Henes and Brian Murray at the above address.

Supported by the Arts and Humanities Research Institute (KCL) and the Cambridge Victorian Studies Group


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