STRANGE ADVENTURES, PROFITABLE OBSERVATIONS: TRAVEL WRITING AND THE CITIZEN-TRAVELER, 1690-1760
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:travel writing exploration
Date of Publication:01/01/2006