Travel Writing and the Natural World, 1768-1840

Overview

While there is increasing anxiety about the natural world and many are calling for action on the environment, academic discourse on the subject has been dominated by romantic ideas of wilderness, new primitivisms, and philosophical approaches to the concept of nature. This book explores the heyday of travel writing about the natural world between 1768 and 1840. The starting point is the parallel occurrence of Cook's Pacific voyages, natural history, scenic tourism and romantic travel. The lasting effect of these ...

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Travel Writing and the Natural World, 1768-1840

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Overview

While there is increasing anxiety about the natural world and many are calling for action on the environment, academic discourse on the subject has been dominated by romantic ideas of wilderness, new primitivisms, and philosophical approaches to the concept of nature. This book explores the heyday of travel writing about the natural world between 1768 and 1840. The starting point is the parallel occurrence of Cook's Pacific voyages, natural history, scenic tourism and romantic travel. The lasting effect of these practices has been to turn nature into a detached and abstract space and travel writing has had a central role in this process.

Unifying a wide field of enquiry, this book argues that both scientific and aesthetic forms of travel writing share a common interest in instilling order and structure in the natural world. Even where political imperatives are not explicit, a tendency towards imperial order is found; empire is writ large and small. As little resistance to the idea of order is found, we can conclude that, through nature, travel writing in the eighteenth century was generally supportive of empire, trade and the landowning class.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781137030351
  • Publisher: Palgrave Macmillan
  • Publication date: 11/13/2012
  • Pages: 256
  • Product dimensions: 5.70 (w) x 8.60 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

PAUL SMETHURST is an associate professor at the University of Hong Kong, where he teaches courses in travel writing, fictions of globalisation and literature and the environment. As well as publications on postmodernism and contemporary fiction, he has published widely on travel writing, and is presently completing a book on the cultural history of the bicycle.

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Table of Contents

List of Illustrations
Acknowledgements
Introduction
The Scientific Gaze and Museum Order
Natural History in the Contact Zone
Natural Order: Metaphor and Structure
Romantic Technique and Humboldtian Vision
Landscape and Nation-Building
The English Picturesque as Social Order
Natural Sublime and Feminine Sublime
Prescribing Nature: Wordsworth's Guide To The Lakes
Textual Landscapes and Disappearing Nature
Conclusion and Coda
Bibliography
Index

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