Imperial Eyes: Travel Writing and Transculturation

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Routledge, 1992 - Literary Criticism - 257 pages
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How has travel writing produced "the rest of the world" for European readerships? How does one speak of transculturation from the colonies to the metropolis? Studies in colonial and exploration discourse have identified the enormous significance of travel writing as an ideological apparatus of Empire. The study of travel writing has, however, remained either naively celebratory or dismissive, treating texts as symptoms of imperial ideologies. Imperial Eyesexplores European travel and exploration writing, in connection with European economic and political expansion since 1700. It is both a study in genre, and a critique of ideology. Pratt examines how travel books by Europeans create the domestic subject of European imperialism, and how they engage metropolitan reading publics with expansionist enterprises whose material benefits accrued mainly to the very few. These questions are addressed through readings of particular travel accounts connected with particularhistorical transitions, from the eighteenth century to Paul Theroux: sentimental travel writing and its links with abolitionist rhetoric, discursive reinventions of South America during the period of its independence (1800-1840), and eighteenth-century European writings on Southern Africa in the context of inland expansion.

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