New Mobilities, Spaces, and Ideas to Market

European Travel Writers and the Making of a Genre—Comment

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Steven D. Spalding United States Naval Academy

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This comment on the special section “On Travel Writing and Knowledge Transfer: Itinerant Knowledge Production in European Travel Writing” examines the section’s contributions in terms of the project called for in the section’s introduction. What new kinds of knowledge are produced in the context of the ever-increasing mobility of European travelers from the sixteenth century forward? What are the discursive conditions within which knowledge is constructed in and through travel narratives—including discourses of selves and others, of cultures and nations? How does mobility shape knowledge production, as narratives of journeys across the oceans develop into a full-blown genre with ever-greater stakes for travelers, readers, and nations? The four case studies in the special section offer insightful snapshots from the history of European travel writing—with a special emphasis on German authors—that resonate with major themes from travel writing studies and critical studies more generally, from Romanticism to the colonialist or imperial gaze.

Contributor Notes

Steven D. Spalding is Assistant Professor of French at the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland. He writes about French cultural studies, mobility studies, and urban studies. He is currently developing a series of articles on representations of mobility in contemporary French culture. E-mail:

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