studies in travel writing

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Jein, Gillian, Alternative Modernities in French Travel Writing: Engaging Urban Space in London and New York, 1851–1986 (London: Anthem Press, 2016).

'A very readable and impressive piece of work which operates at a sophisticated conceptual level and will be a valuable contribution to scholarship on travel writing, urban cultural studies, Franco-British and Franco-American relations, and modernity'.—Professor Bill Marshall, Professor, University of Stirling

'This book represents a substantial and original contribution to the fields of Travel Studies and Urban Studies. It offers a new way to analyse how the cities of London and New York have been practiced and represented by French travellers in order to produce new maps of modernity'.—Jean-Xavier Ridon, Reader in Contemporary French and Francophone Studies at the University of Nottingham.

'Jein's study deserves to be read widely, and will interest scholars of Francophone travel writing, and those who seek a fresh take on urban space and modernity both in and beyond a French-language context. This book elevates our understanding of the dynamics of the city in its wide-ranging appraisal of those who convey this space to us in their writing' — Elizabeth Geary Keohane, University of Glasgow, Irish Journal of French Studies, Volume 17, 2017

Ever since human beings first travelled, cities have constituted important material and literary destinations. While the city has formed a key theme for scholars of literary fiction, travellers’ modes of writing the city have been somewhat neglected by travel studies. However, travel writing with its attention to difference provides a rich source for the study of representational 'strategies' and 'tactics' in the modern city. Tracing spatial practices of French travel writers in London and New York from1851 to the 1980s, this book contributes to a body of work that analyses travel and travel writing beyond the Anglophone context, and engages a variety of travel writing in questions surrounding French modalities for negotiating and establishing a nexus of meanings for life in the modern city. One of the central tenets of the book is that, in the way its spaces are planned, encountered and represented, the city is operational in the formulation of identities and ideologies, and the book’s guiding question is how travel and travel writing allow for the exploration of urban modernity from a perspective of exchange. Bringing together the strands of theory, context and poetic analysis, this book examines travel writing as a spatial practice of the modern city, engaging urban space in questions of nationality, power and legibility and opening avenues for the exploration of urban modernity from a position of alterity, where alternative imaginative geographies of the city might emerge.

Contents

Acknowledgements; Introduction; 1. Producing the City; 2. Urban Oppositions: The French in Nineteenth-Century London; 3. Revealing and Reconstructing London; 4. Wandering Geometry: Order and Identity in New York; 5. Writing around the Lines: Interpretive Travel Writing; Conclusion; References; Index

(Reviewed in STW 21/4 by Charlie Mansfield)


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Studies in Travel Writing (journal)
Centre for Travel Writing Studies (Nottingham Trent University)

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