American Travel and Empire

American Travel and Empire

Susan Castillo
David Seed
Copyright Date: 2009
Edition: 1
Pages: 292
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  • Book Info
    American Travel and Empire
    Book Description:

    In this collection leading scholars in the field examine the interfaces between narratives of travel and of empire. The term ‘American’ is used here in the hemispheric sense and ‘American travel writing’ includes both writing about America by visitors and writings by Americans abroad. The contributors are recognized specialists in different periods of American literature and travel writing. The essays explore the ways in which descriptions of the landscapes and peoples of colonized territories shaped perceptions of these areas; the transmission images and metaphors between colony and metropole; the othering of non-scribal cultures as ‘primitive’ or ‘wild’; the deployment of representations of encounters between European and other cultures in order to critique or reinforce European or American values and cultural practices; the tacit assumptions of cultural or economic hegemony underlying U.S. or European travel writing.

    eISBN: 978-1-84631-508-4
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Notes on Contributors
    (pp. vii-x)
  4. Introduction
    (pp. 1-8)

    Travel writing has conditioned our perceptions of the Americas from the moment in which Columbus and his expedition made landfall in the Caribbean. European explorers andconquistadoressaw America through the prism of narratives describing travel, not to the West, but to the East, such as those of Marco Polo’sBook of Marvelswith its tales of islands rich in gold, or Mandeville’s apocryphal voyages, or Spanish chivalric romances such asAmadís de Gaulawhich tell of monsters, enchanted islands, and strange creatures. In the Early Modern period, and coinciding with the growing power of European nation-states, travel writing addresses...

  5. What Are We Doing Here? Scenarios for Early English Colonies in North America
    (pp. 9-40)
    Donald Ross

    It all began, allegedly, with a visit from Christopher Columbus’s brother in 1488 to King Henry VII to seek English sponsorship for an exploratory voyage west of the Azores, that is, to China.

    Colonial Charters were the legal and inspirational basis for British colonies. By tracing their history from Henry VII’s grant to the Cabots in 1496 through more than two centuries, I show that continental North America existed in European minds as an imagined place whose properties were mediated through the conservative register of legal language. But the English found no gold mines, no populous Indian empires in large...

  6. ‘The Lies of a Distant Traveller’? The Travel Writing of Louis de Hennepin
    (pp. 41-55)
    Susan Castillo

    In the late seventeenth century, when the major European powers were jostling to establish an imperial presence in the New World, the question of textual authority and veracity emerges with particular acuity in the narratives of missionary/ethnographers. James Clifford has observed that ethnographic texts are often said to have literary qualities, but he calls our attention to the fact that ‘literature’ itself is a problematic category, as Michel Foucault, Michel de Certeau and Terry Eagleton have argued. In Clifford’s perspective, Western science has since the seventeenth century excluded certain textual modes; it characterizes scientific discourse as truthful and transparent; plain,...

  7. French Representations of Niagara: From Hennepin to Butor
    (pp. 56-77)
    Charles Forsdick

    This chapter constitutes a reflection on the persistent nature of the French gaze on Niagara Falls over a period of four centuries. At the same time, it explores the implications of this external gaze for understanding what Bill Marshall has identified as a diasporic Frenchness in North America, as well as the complex transatlantic connections that any such phenomenon may betoken.¹ As such, it aims to complement many existing studies of representations of the Falls, which tend to focus – as is the case with the opening chapter of Peter Conrad’sImagining America– on English-language texts, or from which...

  8. ‘Come to these Arcadian Regions where there is Room for Millions’: Citizen Imlay and the Empire in the West
    (pp. 78-98)
    Wil Verhoeven

    Cultural and historical studies of the Revolutionary Decade in Britain have traditionally concentrated on the French Revolution as the single defining event for British identity in the late eighteenth century. Recently, however, new attention has been given to the significance of the American Revolution and the loss of the colonies.¹ Significantly, at the time this loss was often conveyed in medical discourse: both friends and foes of American independence described it in terms of the ‘dismemberment’ or ‘amputation’ of the British Empire; according to William Godwin the loss of the colonies had produced a sense of shock in Britain resembling...

  9. The Conquest of Antiquity: The Travelling Empire of John Lloyd Stephens
    (pp. 99-128)
    Gesa Mackenthun

    In his classicRaiders of the Lost Ark(1981), Stephen Spielberg adapts to the movie screen the popular genre of the archaeological thriller - a genre that combines the search for the treasures of antiquity with a contemporary competition for world rulership. The possession of the sacred ark, which is believed to have once contained the original stone tablets of the ten commandments, is sought for, on the one hand, by greedy and unscrupulous archaeologist-adventurers. On the other hand, however, the world’s ruling governments, expecting the box to contain a kind of super-weapon, employ experts to hunt it down in...

  10. ‘A Confusion of Unwashed and Shabbily Dressed People’: Nineteenth-Century Americans and Urban Britain
    (pp. 129-148)
    Shirley Foster

    For most of the rapidly increasing numbers of Americans who crossed the Atlantic between the beginning and the end of the nineteenth century, to visit Britain (England and Scotland almost exclusively) was to relocate the self in ‘Our Old Home’, as Hawthorne entitled his collection of essays on his English experiences, published in 1863. Such relocation was predicated on the desire to explore and confirm a sense of national identity contingent upon a renewal and re-evaluation of Old World relations. America, no longer the colonized, could now engage with the former colonizer as a means of entry into history, a...

  11. Sunny Tropic Scenes: US Travel Writers in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba
    (pp. 149-173)
    Peter Hulme

    In the fifteenth century Guantanabó, in eastern Cuba, was the name of a river, of the bay into which the river flowed, of a town on the river, and of a political province, all located within the Indiancacicazgo, or chiefdom, of Baitiquirí.¹ Columbus called this huge bay Puerto Grande, but the indigenous Taino name survived in the hispanized form of Guantánamo. There was little Spanish settlement in the area, so English pirates frequented the bay during the seventeenth century, anglicizing that name as Walthen-ham. When Admiral Vernon landed troops there under General Wentworth in July 1741 in an unsuccessful...

  12. Henry James and the ‘Swelling Act of the Imperial Theme’
    (pp. 174-199)
    Peter Rawlings

    For the world in general, and for Henry James in particular, 1884 was an auspicious year. Gladstone was reaching the end of a second ministry (1880–1885) in which his Liberal government, despite its earlier protestations against the ‘jingoism’ and New Imperialism of his predecessor, Disraeli, had passed the Irish Coercion Act (1881), occupied Egypt (1882), and was now sitting at the table in Berlin with Germany, France, Belgium and other major European powers to settle the fate of the African continent.¹ Organized by Bismarck at the instigation of Portugal, theKongokonferenz(which began in 1884 and ended on 26...

  13. The Pacifist Traveller: Kate Crane-Gartz
    (pp. 200-216)
    Tim Youngs

    So wrote Kate Crane-Gartz in 1925. Gartz (1868–1949) was a US communist, a wealthy heiress and patron of the arts, a pacifist and atheist, and an outspoken defender of those on the Left who were persecuted by the authorities. Scrutiny of Gartz’s correspondence reveals just a fraction of her activities and patronage of causes. John Haynes Holmes (1879–1964), Minister of the Community Church of New York, thanks her for her subscription, received with a cheque for $100 which, in ‘these depressing times’ of the early 1930s, seems like three to five times as much.² Devere Allen (1891–1955),...

  14. American Ambassadors: Travellers in the Cold War
    (pp. 217-237)
    David Seed

    The formation of the Truman Doctrine in 1947 whereby US foreign policy was defined as supporting free peoples abroad marked one of the decisive moves towards a Cold War consensus on bipolarity. As relations between the US and Soviet blocs hardened, the world map became increasingly defined through oppositions like that between freedom and subjugation. In his 1950 polemicWar or Peace, John Foster Dulles divided the world into two camps: those areas under Soviet control (numbering according to his count over 700 million people) and the free world. This was by no means a static description. On the contrary,...

  15. In the Missionary Position: Emily Prager in China
    (pp. 238-254)
    Judie Newman

    China runs as a theme through Emily Prager’s work, centrally inA Visit from the Footbinder and Other StoriesandWuhu Diary. Prager’s biography offers a partial explanation. When her parents divorced, her mother remarried and sent Prager alone, aged seven, with a tag round her neck, to her father in Taiwan. Prager spent three and a half years in the East and never went back to her mother. Later she adopted a Chinese daughter, LuLu, and returned to China when her mother died, to show LuLu her native city of Wuhu. Prager repeatedly describes China as ‘a very maternal...

  16. Bibliography
    (pp. 255-276)
  17. Index
    (pp. 277-285)