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Conditions of Production of Accounts of Real Sea and River Travel.
16th, 17th and 18th November, 2012
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Sea voyages helped to fashion the myth of the greatness of English and later British maritime power from the 16th century onwards. Rodger catalogues the events which worked towards the consolidation of this myth but he also underlines the influence in the process of pamphlets, essays, books and travel accounts. It has been largely recognised that accounts of real voyages as listed in various registers (admiralty, commercial, those of the Royal Society to name but a few) were far from factual reports and in J. Viviès’ terms, invention took precedence over inventory and these relations became composites of fact and fiction.
This conference will engage with these accounts of sea or river travel, whether journals, diaries, letters, logs, written by captains, simple sailors or passengers. The approach here takes Ogborn’s work as its starting point. According to Ogborn, documents carried onboard ship though written before departure (Royal letters in this case study) determine to a certain extent relationships between voyagers and those they are to meet with. Subsequent representations of people encountered on the expedition are also influenced by the conditions of transportation and circulation of written documents carried on the voyage. This conference will consider conditions which may have affected writing on board. Did for example official instructions have any influence on the production of travel accounts ? What books (and/or maps and instruments) did voyagers carry with them and did they influence the form and content of accounts? Was the duration of the voyage and the material danger involved a key element in the type of account produced? Do accounts relate/integrate conversations between passengers or officers, well travelled or not? Do ideological or religious positions emerge as a result? How did travel writing account for deaths and disease on board? Did extraordinary weather carry any weight as far as the nature of writing travel was concerned? What then is the significance of crossings-out, palimpsestic writing, rewriting, and the production multiple manuscripts? Analysis of accounts of long sea or river voyages of exploration may be particularly pertinent in this context, though shorter voyages are also of interest.
The range of responses to these questions may allow us to suggest structural links between the form and content of accounts of sea and river travel and their conditions of production. Can we identify stages in the production of these types of accounts? Do initial manuscripts structurally differ from later published or unpublished versions? The papers which will be given at this conference may as a whole, work towards identifying a framework within which sea and river travel accounts were generated, forming in Ogden’s terms a technology of preservation, expansion and reproduction.
We invite proposals for 25 minute papers on all these and other related aspects. Please send a 250-word abstract to firstname.lastname@example.org. The deadline for proposals is 31st March 2012. Limited funded is available. A selection of papers will be published after anonymous peer-review.
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