Knowledge, Travel, and Embodied Thought

Restlessness in Herder’s Journal of My Voyage in the Year 1769

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John K. Noyes University of Toronto

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In this article I examine Johann Gottfried Herder’s Journal of My Voyage in the Year 1769 as a radical experiment in travel writing. Herder understands travel as an alignment of the mobility of the mind with the mobility of the body, and the task of the travel writer (and the traveling reader) is to use language to explore this alignment. The experiment of 1769 was intended as a continuation of his studies on epistemology, which had been intent on finding an alternative understanding of knowledge to the dominant trends of the day, idealism and empiricism. Language and its actualization in reading and writing are the foundation upon which knowledge transfer can be built, and the Journal is an attempt to demonstrate how knowledge transfer is possible.

Contributor Notes

John K. Noyes is a professor of German at the University of Toronto. Recent publications include Herder: Aesthetics against Imperialism (University of Toronto Press, 2015); Goethe’s Faust: Theatre of Modernity (Cambridge University Press, 2011; coedited with Hans Schulte and Pia Kleber); “Herder, Post-colonial Theory and the Antinomy of Universal Reason,” Cambridge Journal of Postcolonial Literary Inquiry 1, no. 1 (2014); and “Space-Time Conversion and the Production of the Human,” in Spatial Practices: Medieval / Modern, ed. Markus Stock and Nicola Vöhringer (V&R unipress, 2014). E-mail:

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