The Imaginary Voyage. New, Other, Virtual Worlds, from Thule to the Cyberspace.

deadline for submissions: 
December 15, 2022
full name / name of organization: 
Riccardo Antonangeli / University of Rome "Sapienza"
contact email: 

The Imaginary Voyage. New, Other, Virtual Worlds, from Thule to the Cyberspace. 




«Onore e gloria a questa moltitudine di viaggiatori e gubernetes dell’immaginazione, nocchieri e piloti sconosciuti, o conosciuti come profeti,filosofi, scrittori, poeti; quasi nessuno di loro ebbe a subire danni, essendo il solo incidente possibile una panne della fantasia.»


Daniele Del Giudice, Meccanica per viaggi al limite del conosciuto.




This issue of Status Quaestionis aims to explore the evolution of the imaginary journey in literature and beyond, from a transnational, comparative and transmedial prospective. Fantastic expeditions ‘elsewhere’, to real or dream lands, descents into hell and ecstatic flights to the eighth sphere, voyages to the edges of the known world, up to the moon, down the abyss, and to the outermost limits of the universe, have, since antiquity, stirred our imagination. They are itineraries of knowledge, ignited by the hero’s curiositas and sense of wonder, like in A True Story by Lucian, or routes towards a better society, as in More’s and Campanella’s utopias. They might turn into allegorical travels,otherworldly pilgrimages or into journeys towards mystic, arcane or sacred places, like in Brendan’s Navigatio, Dante’s Commedia, or in the mi’râj tradition. They can be paths leading to an estranged, satirical look on reality, like in Gulliver’s Travels. Sometimes they happen not in space but through the fourth dimension, as imagined by H. G. Wells with The Time Machine. Regardless, they take place on the threshold between truth and fiction, starting that adventure into the territory of the ‘fantastic’ known as science-fiction.


The experiences of wonder and discovery make the genre tightly intertwined with the practice of literary writing itself. Both result from an act of estrangement and defamiliarization which disorients reader and traveler. Metaphor means ‘change of place,’ translatio in Latin. Witnessing the marvel of unknown and never seen before realities, also prompts an understanding and redefinition of the limits of language. The literary space of imaginary voyages has always been an ideal site for experimenting alternative directions through form, disclosing new possibilities of intersection, contamination and exchange between other literary genres and disciplines. The legendary geographies of the Classical and Medieval worlds, the myths of the Antipodes, of Atlantis or the Terra Australis, of the mirabilia of the fabulous East, combine science and myth, theology and politics. Against their iconographic and literary background, Europe, and the West more broadly, will project its fears and utopias, its desire to cross boundaries or its power to establish them. The imaginary journey can reinforce Empire’s global hegemony, marginalizing the Other either as wild beast or as exotic monster, or it can have the disruptive power of a negative mirror, giving back the image of a world upside-down. 


In all its variations, travelling is an experience that put into question the hero’s habitual worldview and identity, through an experience of displacement and encounter with the Other. In can be a positive or a negative quest, ending in either gain or loss, self-discovery and expansion or dissolution and death. Thus, through the lens of imaginary journeys, through their figurations of change and movement, it is possible to observe how ancient, medieval, modern, and contemporary notions of subjectivity are shaped by the voyage as a vehicle of difference. From the conventional idea of travel as a detachmentmotivated by necessity, postmodern and postcolonial notions celebrate, instead, the nomadic or aimless wandering and the experience of reality in a relational mode. Furthermore, the tropes of female and queer mobility and of the migrant journey might offer a new field of inquiry at the intersection between real and imagined parables of trauma, self-definition, escape, diaspora, exodus, and cultural encounter. Finally, today’s cyberspaces, metaverses and virtual realities provide the occasion for post-geographic journeys, with the end of any distinction between home and away, map and territory, everywhere and nowhere. 


This issue of Status Quaestionis will therefore welcome scientific contributionsin the thematic areas suggested below or in any other relevant author, work, topic: 


The Imaginary Voyage and Antiquity: Homer’s Odyssey; Plato’s Atlantis; Lucian’s A True Story; The Alexander Romance; Antonius Diogenes’ TheWonders Beyond Thule; ancient cosmography and the finisterrae; the isles of the Blessed in The Voyage of Saint Brendan. 


Biblical Journeys: Elia’s flight; the flying throne of Salomon. 


The Myth of the Antipodes and the Books of Wonder: Gervase of Tilbury’s Otia Imperialia; the Draco Normannicus by Stephen of Rouen; Cymbalum Mundi by Bonaventure Des Périers; The Travels of Sir John Mandeville


The Fabulous East: Marco Polo’s Il Milione; the Letter of Prester John.


Voyagers of the East: The travels of Sinbad and Aladdin and other journeys in One Thousand and One Nights, Kitab al-Mi’râj. 


Allegorical Journeys: Alain de Lille’s Anticlaudianus; The Voies de Paradis; Brunetto Latini’s Tesoretto; Bono Giamboni’s Libro Vizi; Dante’s Divine Comedy. 


Voyages to the Terrestrial Paradise, El Dorado, Pays de Cocagne. Voltaire’s Candide


Early Modern Fantastic Journeys. Real Explorations and Chivalric Quests: Pulci’s Morgante; Ariosto’s Orlando Furioso; Cervantes’ Don Quixote; Mundus Alter et Idem by Joseph Hall; More’s Utopia; Campanella’s City of the Sun; Doni’s Mondo de’ Pazzi; Bacon’s New Atlantis; Shakespeare’s The Tempest.


The World Upside-down: Gulliver’s Travels; Samuel Butler’s Erewhon; Cyrano de Bergerac’s L’autre monde ou Les états et empires de la Lune


Utopian Communities. Socialism, Anarchy and Reaction: Francis Godwin’s The Man in the Moon; Fenelon’s Les Aventures de Télémaque; Tyssot’s Les Voyages et aventures de Jacques Massé; Robert Paltock’s The Life and adventures of Peter Wilkins; Casanova’s Icosaméron; Diderot’s Supplement au voyage de Bougainville; Sade’s Aline et Valcour; Mandeville’s Fable of the Bees; Voltaire’s Micromégas; Fabien’s Paris en songe; Bellamy’s Looking Backward; Morris’ News from Nowhere; Jack London’s The Iron Heel. 


Romantic Journeys: Coleridge’s Rime of the Ancient Mariner; Byron’s Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage. Keats’ On First Looking into Chapman’s Homer. 


Adventure Novels and Science-Fiction. Experiments with Time and Technology: Grimmelshausen’s Simplicius Simplicissimus; Mercier’s The Year 2440; Shelley’s The Last Man and Frankenstein; Poe’s The Unparalled Adventure of One Hans Pfaall and The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym; Jules Verne’s Extraordinary Voyages; Stevenson’s Treasure Island. Wells’ Time Machine; Conrad’s Heart of Darkness; Melville’s Moby-Dick; Graves’ Seven Days in New Crete; Golding’s Lord of the Flies; Miller’s A Canticle for Leibowitz. Huxley’s Islands and Brave New World; Herbert’s Dune.


Modernist Escapes: Bloom’s last imaginary voyage in Ulysses; Yeats’ Sailing to Byzantium. 


Postmodernity and Imaginary Voyages: Calvino’s Invisible Cities and If on a Winter’s Night a Traveler; Borges’ Tlön, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius; Kazantzakis’ The Odyssey: A New Sequel; post-geography and travel; cyberspace, virtual reality and the metaverse; Gibson’s Neuromancer; Dream journeys and migration literature; nomadic subjectivity and imaginary journeys through gender. 


Fantastic Journeys in the Visual Arts and Cinema: Méliès, Kubrick’ 2001: A Space Odyssey, Nolan’s Interstellar, Tarkovskij’s Solaris, Shangri-La in The Lost Horizon; Gilliam’s The Adventures of Baron Munchausen. 


Interested parties may submit abstract and short bio to …. by June 15, 2022(max. 500 words, in English or Italian). Proposals will be evaluated by July 15, and articles ready for publication must be sent to the editors by December 15, 2022.