Tourists, Tourism, and Transnationality in the Victorian Cultural Imagination

deadline for submissions: 
September 30, 2018
full name / name of organization: 
Joellen Masters/Northeast Modern Language Association (NeMLA)
contact email: 

Travel, travel writing, and the rise of mass tourism in the nineteenth century have received an impressively wide scholarly focus. In informing the willing sightseer, guidebooks like Baedeker’s or Murray’s constructed a particular approach to the foreign and the unknown. Obligatory rather than spontaneous, requisite rather than discretionary, the experience guidebooks delineated and that powerful tourist agencies like Thomas Cook regulated, produced an intrepid British traveler whose thirst for the new and the exotic challenged conventional notions of relaxation and knowledge, while, at the same time, remained a carefully governed cosmopolitan identity. Yet such independent exploration is, paradoxically, directed and predictive, a contradiction shown also in discursive portrayals of leisure pursuits for the adventurous Victorian man and woman, the intricacies of which deserve more critical attention. The exploratory traveler made pervasive appearance in Victorian and fin-de-siècle fiction and non-fiction and in a robust periodical press whose specialized monthly and quarterly magazines were often journalistic organs for the period’s many travel- and athletic-clubs. For instance, a year before Mr. Hoopdriver and Jessie Milton cycled through H.G. Wells’s The Wheels of Chance (1896), newspapers had breathlessly documented Annie Londonderry Kopchovsky’s solo bicycle trek around the world. The newly wealthy Dorrit family’s dispiriting experience in the Alps in Dickens’s Little Dorrit (1855-57), make striking contrast with Aubrey “Lizzie” Le Blond’s exhilarating late-century narratives, photographs, and short films about mountain climbing and the eventual founding of the Ladies Alpine Club (1907). This panel seeks to broaden existing scholarly debate on the tension between and conflation of the institutionalization of leisure and an encouragement of amateurism as demonstrated across genres, and in canonical and noncanonical texts. Papers might investigate the intersection between exploration and pedagogy, tourism theory and a transnational gaze, holidays and hobbies as they appear in the period’s fiction, periodicals, and instructive manuals.


Please submit 300-word abstracts by September 30, 2018 through the NeMLA portal: