Writing Spaces I: Landscapes and/in German Travel Writing 



Nicole Grewling (Washington College)

The desire to conquer hostile landscapes and explore unknown places has long constituted an essential aspect of traveling and hence also of corresponding travel literature. In the age of globalization, however, travel has become part of everyday life. Formerly foreign destinations have lost most of their exotic appeal, landscapes have sometimes been reduced to interchangeable backdrops for personal experiences, and discourse about non-places suggests a loss of relevance of what could be called distinct local charm. At the same time, the foreign locale is a key element of travel writing. This panel seeks to address what role places and landscapes play in travel writing. It will address the ways in which German-speaking travelers describe and engage with the spaces they travel and what effect this has on their texts and on their interpretation. Possible paper topics may include but are not limited to:

· location as reflection of the internal landscapes of the traveler/writer

· the role of landscape depictions in political, social, (post-)colonial or other discourses

· setting as place, space, or non-place

· connections between terrain and writing style

· ecocritical approaches to travel literature

· cultural constructions of particular landscapes

In investigating such questions, this panel will explore the function of travel literature by scrutinizing preexisting notions of self, surroundings, and the act of traveling itself. It will thus contribute to an ongoing exploration of the manifold purposes of travel literature.

This panel seeks to address what role places and landscapes play in travel writing by German speaking writers. How does location reflect the traveler/writer’s personal experiences? What intended and unintended connections exist between landscape depictions and political, social, or other discourses? How are specific settings constructed and influenced by preconceived cultural notions of these spaces? Please submit 300-400 word abstracts and brief biographical statements.