I wrote an email to a friend today in which I summarized my dissertation casually. I am quoting it here because I rarely write about my dissertation in casual email form, and it was fun to summarize it outside the context of a job market letter.
The subject is the evolution of the guidebook genre and how middle class mass tourists liked reading guides that condescended to them – touring as aspirational role-playing. (Tourists liked to think of themselves as Lord Byron.) Also about the way religious politics make their way into the guidebooks – because Anglos loved the exoticism of watching Roman Catholic rituals in Italy and France. I have a chapter on a radical Catholic priest who wrote the first 19th c proto-guidebook – John Chetwode Eustace. Really fascinating weird figure. Then a chapter on Hobhouse (Byron’s best friend) who hated Eustace. A chapter on John Murray III, the publisher and his 1840s guides to Northern Italy. A chapter on Ruskin and Venice. Last is a chapter about this woman from the 1860s who went on Thomas Cook’s first guided tour of the Alps – Jemima Morrell. She wrote a hilarious journal about her trip.
While my Storymap version of the Morrell chapter map is still in progress here, I completed a very thorough map using Google Maps of her route.
My goal in this map is to show the form of travel (train/boat/foot) rather than the precise routes and roads taken. Using the rather rough line-drawing tool of the platform was a good way to show the form (using color) – but the lines are rather blunt. The value of showing the type of travel for this chapter is in demonstrating A) how varied the transportation was for members of Morrell’s traveling group and B) just how much ground they covered nearly every single day. And they rose around 4am and fell asleep after 10pm regularly. Such robustness.
I plan to do a separate map to outline their four days in Paris at the tail end of their journey – such running about town on foot and feeling pushed around on omnibuses. (I’d like to find a good image of an 1860s omnibus!)
You may already know that a chapter of my dissertation is about Jemima Morrell’s Swiss Journal, an account of Thomas Cook’s first guided group tour to the Alps. Morrell was one of 63 Britons who bought his 680 Fr. package. She and her six friends set out with Cook in 1863, armed with Murray and Baedeker handbooks, and climbed the Alps in their petticoats.
My paper for Session 670 at the MLA 2015 conference—found here—discusses the ways in which phrases that Morrell had lifted from the pages of her guidebooks found their way into the blogs, news articles, and promotional materials the celebrated the journey’s 150th anniversary in 2013.
A young poet who won a competition to recreate Morrell’s journey blogged (minimally) about her experience. She took down the website shortly thereafter, but I have managed to secure the URL for myself. (You are welcome.) The Wayback Machine has provided us with access to one of its pages. Please click here to check it out.