Travel Culture: Essays on What Makes Us Go

By Carol Traynor Williams | Go to book overview
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Origins of Sightseeing



EVEN A BRIEF perusal of travel literature, or a short look at contemporary tourists, is sufficient to suggest that travel practices might be conveniently grouped according to style. The conventions which, at various times, have governed the artful performance of journeys include norms pertinent to ritual preparation; modes of transportation; duration; design and pattern of itinerary; foci of attention; dress, demeanor, and social relationships to be maintained en route; and forms of discourse marking termination. The list, meant only to be suggestive, far from exhausts all possible categories of convention. The relative emphasis given any one category can be expected to vary; indeed, this variation often helps to define the distinctiveness of a travel style. But all travel conventions bear upon human movement through culturally conceived space, movement which is deliberately undertaken in order to yield meaning pertinent to the travelers and their publics. Space and time--and the traveler's own body as it moves through both--are the baseline elements of all travel performance.

This chapter explores one dimension of the human "embodiment" of the travel art. It has never been irrelevant whether a traveler set out in a male or female body, and for centuries moral treatises warned of the dangers which travel posed to women ( Giles 1976). Age and health have also drawn attention, early treatises often setting an ideal age for touring, while interdicting it to those whose bodies were too young, too old, or too infirm to bear out the desired experience ( Baretti 1768; Bourne 1578; Leigh 1671; Turler 1575). But one may further argue that even beyond such classifications, the traveler's body, as the literal vehicle of the travel art, has been subject to historical construction and stylistic constraint. The very senses through which the traveler receives culturally valued experience have been molded by differing degrees of cultivation and, indeed, discipline. In examining the link


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Travel Culture: Essays on What Makes Us Go


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