Travel and Truth

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Travel Cultures Seminar, University of Oxford
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Travel and Truth: An International Research Conference
Wolfson College, Oxford - 16-18 September 2011

'Travellers, poets and liars are three words all of one significance" – Richard Braithwhaite, 1631

"We love the Old Travelers. We love to hear them ... blaspheme the sacred name of Truth" - Mark Twain, 1869

Whether in the name of exploration, pilgrimage, science, inspiration, or a mixture of all these, the issue of 'truth' has been one of the most constant, complex, and contentious in the cultural history of travel – if not its most definitive concern. This conference will explore the manifold ways in which travel and truth interact: the ways travel has revealed or produced, depended on or defied what is held to be 'true'; the kinds of truth that emerge through accounts of journeys, real or imagined; and how travel has, in different cultural and historical circumstances, affected notions of 'truth' itself.

Proposals for 20-minute papers are invited on any aspect of this travel and truth relationship, without restriction on disciplinary approach or period. Papers may be general or specific, and might include (though are not limited to) the following issues:
- Travel and the history of scientific truth
- Travel and the evolution of philosophical truth
- Otherness, outsiders and truth
- Travel and postmodern relativism
- Travel as an 'ironic' mode of perception
- Documentary veracity as generic prerequisite of travel writing
- Travellers' rhetoric of authenticity
- The 'gendered' truth of travel
- Anthropological truth and 'Writing Culture'
- The 'true traveller' versus the 'mere' tourist

Prof. JAMES BUZARD (Massachusetts Institute of Technology)
Prof. TIM YOUNGS (Nottingham Trent University)


For information, and to submit paper proposals, please visit

Dr. Clare Broome Saunders, Wolfson College, Oxford;
Dr. des. Simon Cooke, Wolfson College, Oxford
Dr. Tom F. Wright, St Edmund Hall, Oxford