Please consider submitting an abstract for our panel on Travel, Religion, and Interpretation at the 2017 American Comparative Literature Association conference in the Netherlands from July 6-9.
If you are interested, please submit your abstract here on or before Sep. 23rd: http://acla.org/node/add/paper
Religion has historically motivated many people to travel, whether on pilgrimage, because of persecution, or in order to possess new, promised lands. The texts arising from these journeys often located religious meaning in the journey itself as much as in reaching the destination, configuring the temporary experience of mobility into a worthwhile religious exercise or even a lasting spiritual state. They interact in complicated ways with the existing material realities of the places their writers/characters visit, shaping the legibility of their geography and, in certain historical moments, leading to their actual reshaping. How did readers interpret these texts of travel, especially in cases of what we might now call false advertising: when texts featured far flung, unsafe destinations, for instance? Are texts depicting journeys or territories (particularly from a religious standpoint or aimed at a specific sect) ever received with any suspicion? What effect does the expression of disappointment by a writer/character/traveler have on the reader? Do texts show an awareness of their audience through defensiveness or failed attempts at internal consistency (think: Robinson Crusoe)? Do they warn readers of “improper” reading through certain literary gestures, reminding readers of their own interpretive responsibilities? If so, does the project of spiritual travel ever become a rhetorical feat of the imagination, rather than a lived reality? By investigating the tension between the literary and religious character(s) of these texts and their sometimes tenuous relation to the facts, we hope to find out if religious travel writing was read differently than other reports; whether there was a certain tolerance for fiction built into the genre; and if the connection between faith and travel uncovers early instances of hermeneutical suspicion or even skepticism. Moreover, we are interested in the material effects that the readings these texts produce; whether colonization, increased tourism to the places described, demand for new commodities, etc.
Only members can participate in this group's discussions.