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Photography, Travel Writing and nineteenth-century Rome

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If you have a question about this talk, please contact Dr Katherine Bowers.

In the second half of the nineteenth century, the Leipzig publisher Bernhard Tauchntiz and Co. seized an opportunity to profit from the burgeoning British and American tourist market in Italy. Tauchnitz produced unbound editions of novels and travel guides set in Italy including Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Marble Faun (the most popular edition), George Eliot’s Romola, Edward Bulwer Lytton’s Last days of Pompeii and Rienzi and Charles Dickens’s Pictures from Italy. These books contained blank spaces onto which tourists could paste photographs or postcards relating to scenes in the text. Next to Hawthorne’s description of the Faun of Praxiteles, for example, visitors would paste or, in some cases, tip into the binding, a photograph of the sculpture.

In this talk I will consider this form of extra-illustration as a touristic practice, placing it in the context of a longer history of photographically illustrated travel writing. I examine the relationship between the Tauchnitz volumes as embodied texts and the embodied aspects of Victorian literary tourism and I connect the practice of extra-illustration to a discourse of tactility evident in Hawthorne’s ekphrastic writing, exploring his response to the material, tangible past.

This talk is part of the Darwin College Humanities and Social Sciences Seminars series.

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