In November 2013 an international symposium was held at the National Maritime Museum in Sydney, Australia called “Travel and the Media” (cohosted by the National Film and Sound Archive and the Centre for Media History at Macquarie University and organized by Sofia Eriksson and Bridget Griffen-Foley). The Museum’s collections formed a fitting backdrop as a destination of travel and a site of tourist experiences, as well as a gathering of items related to the physical objects that enable people to embark on journeys to different parts of the globe. A number of the papers presented referred to a time when Australia was dependent on a maritime world, with sea-based expeditions forming the majority of travel experiences of the southern continent until the mid-twentieth century.
Travel, Media, and the Politics of Representation
Responses to Travel Literatures and the Problem of Authenticity
This article compares responses to travel writing and imaginative fiction about the settler colonies, in particular Australia and New Zealand, between 1870 and 1945—a time when distinctions between travel, mobility, and emigration were hard to pin down. Very little scholarship has shown an interest in what the subject society’s inhabitants thought of its portrayal, and what this can tell us about colonial and national identities. Australasian responses to works about Australasia, in the form of published reviews, were influenced by the knowledge and particular concerns of the reviewer and their own negotiations with identity. What mattered to readers and critics was the authenticity of the portrayal of the place, but this was not only related to whether the work claimed to be fiction or non-fiction. The perceived level of familiarity that the writer had with the area was the most important factor in determining whether the reception of a work was positive or negative.