Traveling has become a natural part of modern life. As a result of the 2020 COVID-19 epidemic, it is no longer a self-evident right to move from one country to the other or even to travel within national boundaries. The conference intends to offer an opportunity to reflect critically upon the history and nature of human mobility, exploring physical and intellectual traveling as ways of investigating unknown territories, cultural exchange, and spiritual or religious experience.
Cultures of Travel: Tourism, Pilgrimage, Migration
Traveling has become a natural part of modern life. As a result of the worldwide crisis caused by the COVID-19 epidemic in 2020, however, it is no longer a self-evident right to move from one country to the other or even to travel within national boundaries. The conference intends to offer an opportunity to reflect critically upon the history and nature of human mobility, exploring physical and intellectual traveling as ways of investigating unknown territories, cultural exchange, and spiritual or religious experience.
Human migration, whether by choice or involuntarily, is as old as humankind itself. Since time immemorial, epic records of various cultures explored the reasons and effects of migratory movements in history, myth, and religion, from the impacts of the sack of Troy in Greco-Roman literature to the events recorded in the Book of Exodus.
Dating back to antiquity, the positively connoted act of cultural traveling reached its first zenith during the Renaissance and Enlightenment. Albrecht Dürer’s traveling across the Alps, motivated by both artistic curiosity and economic interests, signifies the exceptional cross-fertilization of ideas between Northern and Southern Europe. Young members of the British upper class used later to undertake the legendary Grand Tour to the Continent in order to widen their horizon, to acquire manners and language skills. Unlike any other area in Europe, it was Italy that—due to its abundant cultural remains and delightful landscapes—attracted artists and literati. The travelers benefited from the infrastructures of the land and sea routes that were customarily used by merchants for transferring essential trade goods between the countries.
When understood in a figurative sense, traveling could also be substituted by a journey of the mind or soul. This phenomenon was a widespread practice from antiquity to pre-modernity and beyond, whether the spiritual journeys of the Jewish and Christian apocalypses, of Dante and Milton, or the travels of the imagination by the likes Cervantes and Ariosto. Pilgrimages too are celebrated, whether in Jacopo da Voragine’s the Golden Legend, where he describes in detail such journeys in the mind—mentales diaetae—to the tomb of Saint Peter Martyr in Milan with their healing effect for both the pilgrim’s mind and body or the tales of Chaucer.
The conference calls for research from the fields of art history, history, literary history, cultural studies, religious studies, philosophy, classical studies, archaeology, anthropology, geography, social sciences, and beyond. Special attention might be given to the cultural dialogue between East and West. We especially welcome the scholarly exchange between Asian and Western experts. We would also particularly appreciate papers that mark the 700th anniversary of the death of the great Italian poet Dante Alighieri (c. 1265–1321).
Areas of interest may include, but are not limited to the following topics:
The act of traveling and its representation in the arts
The act of traveling and its representation in literature
Cultural travel and tourism
The Grand Tour
Pilgrimage, physical and spiritual, religious and secular
Travel narrative: travelogues, diaries, travel memoirs, guide books
Illustrations of travel books
Traveling between reality and imagination
Substitutes of traveling: Traveling and pilgrimage in the mind
Traveling in the armchair and its narrative
Traveling between Asia and the West
Travel record literature from Asia
Comparative perspectives on traveling in the East and West
Traveling from and to the Near East
Traveling and pilgrimage in Islamic culture
Women and traveling
Traveling and trade
Discovery of the world: Exploration of foreign countries, cosmography and chorography
Measuring the world: Maps and atlases
Traveling and (early) colonialism
Journeys on health grounds
Forced traveling: Flight, persecution, migration
Traveling and epidemics
We encourage the submission of panel proposals for groups of 3–4 speakers.
Please send a title and abstract of your proposed paper (around 300 words) along with a brief CV to TACMRS.NTNU@gmail.com by 17 January 2021.
There is no registration fee for the conference. Presenters residing in Taiwan should be members of TACMRS. The membership application form can be downloaded from the TACMRS website or can be obtained via email upon request.