Strange adventures, profitable observations travel writing and the citizen-traveler, 1690-1760 /
STRANGE ADVENTURES, PROFITABLE OBSERVATIONS:
TRAVEL WRITING AND THE CITIZEN-TRAVELER, 1680-1760
by Joshua Grasso
My dissertation, Strange Adventures, Profitable Observations: Travel
Writing and the Citizen-Traveler, 1680-1780, explores the role of the traveler as it
developed in late seventeenth and eighteenth-century travel writing. Prior to this
period, the traveler remained an anonymous figure of convention, reporting on
worlds rarely seen with either empirical authority or utopian embellishment.
Beginning approximately with William Dampier’s A New Voyage Round the World
(1697), travel writing became less about what was seen as how it was seen,
capturing the composite experience of a nation of travelers. By authenticating
their travels through a reliable witness, the writers were able to use the outside
world to “see” England and explore its social, moral and economic boundaries.
The four chapters of my study chart the tempestuous course of contemporary
travel, as well as the tenuous divide between experience and embellishment.
From Dampier’s prototypical buccaneer/adventurer to Fielding’s ailing
misanthrope, each traveler meditates on English identity while divorced from the
customs and conventions of home. While some, such as Defoe, find a national
mission of travel and empire, others, such as Fielding, see the possible
breakdown of English society. Yet, read as a complete narrative, these works
illustrate how travel writing became a truly national enterprise, contributing to the
cultural mythology that fueled the age of empire.
School Location:USA - Ohio
Source Type:Master's Thesis
Keywords:exploration travel in literature writing english
Date of Publication: