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Title: From wonder to curiosity in early modern travel writing
Author: Jones, D. M.
Awarding Body: University of Liverpool
Current Institution: University of Liverpool
Date of Award: 2019
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The early modern period saw an unprecedented rise in travel and travel writing. As voyages brought travellers to new and scarcely recorded parts of the world, this in turn led to encounters with what we might term the 'wondrous,' phenomena apparently defying all explanation and evoking a wonder reaction in those witnessing it. At the same time there existed 'curiosities,' interesting or intriguing objects sometimes displayed in large collections, or kept for personal pleasure. Wonders and curiosities, especially in regards to travel, were interlinked. This thesis examines how the process was one of transition, with the wondrous often being lowered to the level of the merely curious. The discussion encompasses in part an analysis of the terms 'wonder' and 'curiosity,' and argues that a separation of the two is essential in understanding how knowledge was constructed during the period. A careful analysis of how wonder was, and still is, transformed into curiosity, illuminates how new information is incorporated into existing knowledge structures. The thesis traces this development with reference to a wide range of source material including medicinal texts, legal records and dramatic works, but travel remains the crux of the discussion. I argue that the nature of travel writing and the associated methodologies of collection and classification, were a catalyst for the transformation of the wondrous into the merely curious.
Supervisor: Das, Nandini ; Davis, Nick Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral