Call for papers

Travel in the Nineteenth Century: Narratives, Histories and Collections

Lincoln, UK, 14-15 July 2011

Closing date for proposals: 15 February 2011

In the nineteenth century, railways made distant locations ever more accessible, the Grand Tour became more and more a pastime of the middle classes and British imperial expansion brought exotic locales and non-Western cultures ever closer to home.  New ways of thinking about and communicating experiences of travel and of interactions with other cultures held a significant influence in various areas of nineteenth-century culture.  This period saw an enormous expansion in museums and popular exhibition culture, technological innovations such as photography and film, as well as the vast growth of a popular press that served to deliver these experiences, images and objects to an increasingly literate public.  This public in turn seemed to possess an insatiable appetite for travel narratives, shows and exhibitions, both fictional and factual.

This interdisciplinary conference seeks to explore the divergent and complex ways in which travel was understood and communicated in the nineteenth century.  Contributors are invited to investigate the depiction and representation of travel in as wide a variety of media and for as wide a variety of audiences as possible. We seek submissions from historians, literary scholars, art historians, anthropologists and material culture scholars, which illuminate the narratives-popular, academic, private or official-that surrounded travel in the period. Keynote speakers confirmed so far: Professor James Buzard (MIT), Professor Nicholas Thomas (Cambridge), Dr Geoff Quilley (Sussex).

We invite papers on themes such as:

  • The construction of ideas of the real and the virtual, authenticity and distance, through travel narratives.
  • Different venues for narrating travel, and the way such venues affected the consumption of travel narratives.
  • Different modes of travel such as the missionary, the explorer, the tourist, the connoisseur and the scientist, and how they were constructed by texts, images and objects.
  • Different audiences for travel narratives – in literature, exhibitions or private patronage of artists, and in museums and private collections.
  • How different narratives framed and constructed the moment of encounter with the cultural other in travel.
  • The role of technology in enabling new narratives of travel; and how narratives of travel described technology.
  • Travelling in time as well as travelling in space.

We also invite session proposals which map onto the themes listed above. Session proposals should include a brief outline of the session (300 words) as well as three abstracts (300 words each) for the proposed session.

Please send abstracts of no more than 300 words to Kate Hill (, Laurie Garrison ( or Claudia Capancioni (
Closing date for proposals: 15 February 2011