Call for papers: Annual International Conference of the French Society for Victorian and Edwardian Studies (SFEVE)

Hitting the Road! Travel Experiences and Narratives of the Victorian and Edwardian Era University of Tours, France (2-3 February 2023)

In his latest book, Why We Drive: Toward a Philosophy of the Open Road (2020), Matthew Crawford observes about the current direction in automotive design that "what we have currently is a dysfunctional hybrid of human control that makes little use of the exquisite connections between mind and body, plus a crude interface of symbols"; in other words, modern technologies reduce man's freedom to make considered decisions and to undertake certain actions that one usually performs when travelling, even though they would be rewarding. This ambivalent relationship between the human being and the vehicle, which allows him to free himself from long distances while depriving him of a part of his sensitive experience, is neither new nor specific to our century and can be found in every period when technological acceleration generated new travel experiences.

In Britain, the nineteenth century was a period marked by an increased awareness of the possibilities offered by the freedom to travel and to move around. A number of factors encouraged people to set off on their travels: the rise in living standards, new uses of free time, the development of trade and communications, and better circulation of information. British people became aware of the existence of a largely unknown and unexplored space, with many resources, whether on the scale of their region, their country or the world, which encouraged them to move, to travel and to discover other places and other cultures. Following the example of Queen Victoria, who, attracted by the landscapes and culture of the Scottish Highlands described by Walter Scott, went there for the first time in 1842 and then multiplied her travel experiences abroad, many authors undertook to relate their explorations of continental Europe but also of Africa, America, India, Asia and Antarctica. Some of these 'travel writers' are well known (Dickens, Robert Scott, Albert Smith), others deserve to be.

Thus, for the 2023 French Society for Victorian and Edwardian Studies conference, which will be held at the University of Tours on 2 and 3 February 2023, we propose to explore the multiple aspects of travel experience through the autobiographical accounts of British people who travelled the world throughout the nineteenth century. In order to reflect on the subject of the travel narrative, contributors’ papers, while taking into consideration the latest studies1 devoted to travel writing, will be based exclusively on biographies, accounts2 and productions of famous or lesser known travellers (e.g. explorers, scientists>sup>3, missionaries4, merchants, diplomats, engineers, writers, artists, philanthropists...) thus allowing analyses of individual experiences of travel. The proposed papers should be structured around the following three axes:


1. "Borders and Crossings: an interdisciplinary conference on Travel Writing." 9-11 September 2021, University of Kent, Canterbury, UK.

2. Véronique Magri-Mourgues. « L’écrivain-voyageur au XIXe siècle : du récit au parcours initiatique », 6èmes Rencontres Méditerranéennes du Tourisme (RMT), Festival TransMéditerranée (FTM), Jun. 2005, Grasse, France. pp.43-54. ffhal-00596462

3. « Le voyage entre science, art et littérature - Usages et réappropriations du voyage savant dans la littérature viatique et la photographie (XIXe-XXIe siècles) », 11-12 mars 2021, ENS Lyon.

4. Elizabeth E. Provost. British Female Missionaries in Africa and their Impact on Progressive Movements in Britain Oxford: Oxford UP, 2010.

5. Melinda Bogdán. « Voyages imaginaires : les mondes exotiques dans la photographie (1850-1920) », Ethnologie française, vol. 36, no. 2, 2006, p. 311-320.

6. “An Aesthetics of the Sea in The Highlands and Islands of Scotland.” 3-6pm (GMT), 3rd June 2021 (online workshop, part of research programme “Hands Across The Sea. Collaboration, Innovation & Blue Humanities in the Highlands & Islands of Scotland and Western Brittany”, University of Highlands & Islands (UHI) & Université de Bretagne Occidentale (HCTI), 2021.

7. Anne-Florence Quaireau & Samia Ounoughi, “Exceptions and exceptionality in travel writing.” Studies in Travel Writing. Vol.24, 3 (2020): 197-205. See also Grace Baillet, Sur les traces du voyageur-écrivain : témoignages croisés d'une histoire, Düren, Shaker Verlag, Boulogne-sur-Mer, 2021 ⟨hal-03538206⟩.


Each proposal (for a 20-minute presentation), written in English or French (between 300 and 500 words) accompanied by a short biographical note, should be sent to the conference organiser: The deadline for submission is 15 September 2022 and confirmation of participation will be sent before the end of September.

Links to Abstracts of Presentations in English

Further information about the conference, including abstracts for the presentations in French, is available on the university's website: see

Organising committee:

Tri Tran, ICD (EA 6297), Tours, with ICD’s research secretaries (Norberta Dias & Isabelle Cochet-Peymirat).

Scientific committee:

Philippe Chassaigne (PR Bordeaux-Montaigne), Neil Davie (PR Lyon II), Laurence Roussillon-Constanty (PR Pau), Fabienne Moine (PR UPEC), Christine Reynier (PR Montpellier III), Nathalie Vanfasse (PR Aix-Marseille Université), Tri Tran (MCF HDR Tours), Adrian Wisnicki (Associate PR, Lincoln, Nebraska). Those who wish to get in touch with the laboratory website hosting the conference may follow this link:

Keynote speakers:

Select bibliography/ Bibliographie choisie

Alù G. & Hill S.P., “The travelling eye: reading the visual in travel narratives.” Studies in Travel Writing 22:1 (2018): 1-15.

Baillet G., Sur les traces du voyageur-écrivain : témoignages croisés d'une histoire. Düren: Shaker Verlag, Boulogne-sur-Mer, 2021.

Bogdán M., “Voyages imaginaires : les mondes exotiques dans la photographie, 1850-1920.” Ethnologie française. Vol. 36, no. 2 (2006): 311-320.

Colbert B., ed. Travel writing and tourism in Britain and Ireland. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2012.

Colley A.C. Victorians in the Mountains: Sinking the Sublime. Farnham, Surrey: Ashgate, 2010.

Franchi B. & Mutlu E., eds., Crossing borders in Victorian travel: spaces, nations and empires. Newcastle upon Tyne: Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2018.

Goodwin G. & Johnston G., “Guidebook publishing in the nineteenth century: John Murray's Handbooks for Travellers.” Studies in Travel Writing 17:1 (2013): 43-61.

Greenhill B. & Giffard A., Travelling by Sea in the Nineteenth Century, London, A. & C. Black, 1972.

Guilcher G. (dir.), « Le Voyage », Revue française de civilisation britannique. Vol. VIII no. 4 (juin 1996).

Henes M. & Murray B.H., eds., Travel writing, visual culture and form, 1760–1900, Palgrave Studies in Nineteenth-Century Writing and Culture. London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2016.

Hill K., ed. Britain and the Narration of Travel in the Nineteenth Century: texts, images, objects. London: Routledge, 2015.

Howell J., Exploring Victorian Travel Literature: disease, race and climate, Edinburgh Critical Studies in Victorian Culture. Edinburgh, Edinburgh UP, 2014.

Leask N., Stepping Westward: Writing the Highland Tour c.1720–1830. Oxford: Oxford UP, 2020.

Livingstone J., “The meaning and making of Missionary Travels: the sedentary and itinerant discourses of a Victorian bestseller”, Studies in Travel Writing. 15:3 (2011): 267-292.

Loiseaux O., dir.,

Les premiers voyageurs photographes, 1850-1914, BNF / Glénat, 2018.

Magri-Mourgues V., « L’écrivain-voyageur au XIXe siècle : du récit au parcours initiatique. » 6èmes Rencontres Méditerranéennes du Tourisme (RMT). Festival TransMéditerranée (FTM), Jun. 2005, Grasse, pp.43-54.

Quaireau A.-F. & Ounoughi S., “Exceptions and exceptionality in travel writing.” Studies in Travel Writing. Vol. 24 (2020). 3: 197-205.

Robinson-Tomsett E., Women, Travel and Identity: journeys by rail and sea, 1870-1940. Manchester: Manchester UP, 2013.

Theakstone J., Victorian & Edwardian Women Travellers: A Biographical Bibliography of Books Published in English. 2nd ed. Mansfield Centre, CT: Martino Publishing, 2010.

Created 8 October 2022