2012-2013 Colloquium Series

The Tourism Studies Working Group is pleased to announce

Reading Responses to the Victorian Visitors’ Book

Kevin James
Associate Professor, Department of History and Centre for Scottish Studies
University of Guelph, Canada

Monday, March 11, 12:00 PM
Berkeley Freehouse Restaurant
College Avenue and Bancroft Way, Berkeley

*Note: Space for this event is limited.
Please RSVP to tourism@berkeley.edu

When the self-declared historian of the hotel visitors’ book, Fitzwater Wray, produced a 1937 volume of extractions culled from myriad hotels, his purpose was the commemoration and light-hearted analysis of what he represented as a peculiarly British institution. His Victorian forerunners spilled much metaphorical ink over the books, adjudging the quality of their contents, generally mocking their florid style, and lamenting the poverty of their insights. Wray’s publication was part of a broad textual field that explored inscriptions in these volumes. Why did nineteenth-century writers exhibit a profound ambivalence to these volumes and their inscriptions, and how can we access reading experiences and responses to fellow-travellers’ entries as readers turned over the pages of these books? This talk explores methods and sources for exploring how readers approached these long-neglected texts, and suggests that the field of book history offers insights into the visitors’ book as a core material of travel..

Speaker Bio:
Kevin James is Associate Professor in the Department of History and Centre for Scottish Studies at the University of Guelph, Canada. A graduate of McGill (BA 1996, MA 1997) and Edinburgh (PhD 2000) Universities, he has written on the economic and social history of Scotland and Ireland. At Guelph he founded the Tourism History Working Group – a research cluster of faculty and graduate and undergraduate students with research programmes focussed on the history of tourism and travel. His current research focuses on tourism history in nineteenth-century Scotland and Ireland; it has been supported by Standard Research Grant and Insight Grant funding from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada..

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