Global Voyages and Visions in the Long 19th Century (2015)

English 265: Global Voyages and Visions in the Long 19th Century (Winter 2015)

Professor Adriana Craciun

Course Description: This interdisciplinary seminar explores “the global nineteenth century” as imagined through British and European writings, artworks, museums, collections, and exhibitions, in relation to encounters with indigenous people and their cultural productions. We will consider how key institutions and cultural forms produced distinct forms of “the global” in the long nineteenth century: long-distance scientific voyages of exploration, public museums, world exhibitions, travel literature and the novel, planetary sciences, and the slave trade. We will work on a metropolitan scale– considering the British Museum and Great Exhibition as contested global spaces and contact zones within London as world city (cosmopolis)– and on oceanic scales, looking at long-distance scientific voyages and long distance indigenous Oceanic voyagers and how their entanglements shaped the 19th century’s visions of the global.

Alongside texts by well known writers like Mary Shelley, Jules Verne, Alexander von Humboldt, and Robert Louis Stevenson, we will consider the writings, visual art, and other cultural forms created by indigenous voyagers from Africa, India, Ra’iatea and Tahiti (Oceania), and the Arctic. We will consider this archive of diverse impressions, from the highly individualistic to the rigorously institutional, the indigenous and the European, in relationship to current debates about the multiple origins and spaces of globalization. Two weeks will focus on case studies, of the British Museum and the Great Exhibition of 1851, as unique spaces making possible a wide range of contested global visions. This seminar is robustly interdisciplinary and will include key works in anthropology, geography, museum and collection studies, literary history and theory, history of science, history of empire and of race, and postcolonial and indigenous studies. We will read scholarship by authors including Nicholas Thomas, Paul Gilroy, James Clifford, Philip Steinberg, Gayatri Spivak, Antoinette Burton, Tony Bennett, Epeli Hau’ofa, Greg Dening, Annie Coombes, Neil MacGregor, Mary Louise Pratt, Bronwen Douglas and Vanessa Smith. British cultural forms will be read transculturally and alongside European and indigenous works, and drawn from the disciplinary range described above.

Required Books: coming soon

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