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Crossing the Atlantic

Travel and Travel Writing in Modern Times

Edited by Thomas Adam and Nils H. Roemer

Publication Year: 2011

“ . . . travel as an exploration of ‘the other’ which becomes an exploration of the self . . . a confirmation of identity.”—from the Introduction, by Frank Trommler In an age when travel was more difficult but leisure was more available, those who journeyed across the Atlantic from the Old World to America or back created a wonderful literature about the divergent cultures and the fertile interactions among them. In travel diaries, journals, novels, journalistic reports, and guide books, nineteenth- and early twentieth-century writers recorded impressions and ruminations that not only offer opportunities for comparison and contrast but also shed light on the processes of modernization and the future that would emerge on both sides of the Atlantic. This latest offering from the important Walter Prescott Webb Memorial Lectures series explores themes like urbanization, modernization, education, gender, Jewish identity, nationalism and internationalism, political and cultural values, and the experience of travel itself. Volume editors Thomas Adam and Nils Roemer have assembled a collection of varied studies that permit enlightened reflection on the ways in which travelers from the New and Old Worlds have observed, documented, understood, and negotiated their similarities and differences. The freshness and variety of the previously little-heard voices documented in Crossing the Atlantic will serve as an important reminder that an attentive interaction with “foreignness” has been and will continue to be one of the best paths to a more enlightened engagement with the familiar.

Published by: Texas A&M University Press

Series: Walter Prescott Webb Memorial Lectures Series


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pp. vii-viii

The Walter Prescott Webb Memorial Lecture series was inaugurated in 1965 by professors Will Holmes, Harold Hollingsworth, and E. C. Barksdale. In the 1970s and 1980s, under the leadership of Richard G. Miller, Stanley Palmer, and Kenneth R. Phil (successors to Barksdale as chair of the department of history of the University of Texas at Arlington), the lecture series and concomitant publications grew in stature...

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pp. 1-8

One of the more appealing fruits of the immense literature about Kafka in recent years was the discovery of the writer Franz Kafka as traveler. Examining Kafka’s intense exploration of exotic landscapes, travels, and experiences, John Zilcosky found that the image of the sedentary bureaucrat in Prague does not do justice to Kafka’s engagement with travels to foreign places in such works as Amerika (Der Verschollene) and...

PART 1: American Travelers in Europe

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p. 9

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“That Humane and Advanced Civilization”: Interpreting Americans’ Values from Their Praise of Saxony, 1800–1850

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pp. 11-49

As travel to Europe became increasingly fashionable and possible for privileged Americans in the early to mid-nineteenth century, the little German Kingdom of Saxony turned into a beloved destination. American travel literature from this period contains glowing praise for Saxony and its people. In comparison to other German lands like Prussia and Austria, Saxony fared particularly well in Americans’ attitudes. Just what...

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Internationalism, Travel Writing, and Franco-American Educational Travel, 1898–1939

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pp. 50-78

In 1928 a young French woman, Simone Téry, reported on her travels as a recipient of an Albert Kahn Around-the-World Scholarship. After visiting Europe, Asia, and the Americas for educational purposes, she offered these reflections on the philosophical condition of the traveler. Téry describes the effect of being torn from one’s family and from all that is familiar: the traveler “finds himself alone, alone with himself.” Being in...

PART 2: German Travelers in the United States

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p. 79

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Social Crossings: German Leftists View “Amerika” and Reflect Themselves, 1870–1914

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pp. 81-130

In early studies of the great migration river that swept millions of people from Europe to the Americas, some undercurrents were not given much attention. One was return migration, which has been charted in the last decades and in some years found to be as high as 30 percent.1 Returnees reraise the question of what repelled as well as what drew migrants. Another, smaller but important undercurrent was the Atlantic crossing of...

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Mapping Modernity: Jews and Other German Travelers

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pp. 131-148

In the nineteenth century, in exchange for their religious, cultural, and political transformation, Jews in German lands received civic liberties. With the granting of equal rights, the political status of Jews radically changed, their religious practice modernized, and their culture was transformed. Identifying themselves to a large extent with the emerging German ...

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Between Modernity and Antimodernity: From Enthusiasm to Hostility in German Perceptions of Big Cities in America, 1870s–1930s

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pp. 149-185

This essay considers two discourses (or topics) in German thought and some of the ways in which they intersected and overlapped as they found expression in a large outpouring of observation and commentary by writers in German between the 1870s and the 1930s. Drawing on a broad base of investigations by others as well as research of my own, I begin with summary accounts both of German views of America and of German views of big cities, to which I shall add at various points...

PART 3: Gender and Travel

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p. 187

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Travel, Gender, and Identity: George and Anna Ticknor’s Travel Journals from Their 1835–36 Journey to Dresden

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pp. 189-209

George and Anna Ticknor were the embodiment of old Boston. Both came from old Brahmin families with long family trees that stretched back to the early days of English colonization. And although both came from well-off families, George Ticknor was born into one of modest means. He graduated from Dartmouth College and passed the bar exam in 1813, but quickly became bored at the prospect of a career as a lawyer. In 1814, he decided to pursue academic studies at the famous...

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The Women of Palestine in American Women’s Travel Writing

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pp. 210-247

This chapter focuses on the travel writings of fifty-one American women who ventured to Palestine between 1832 and 1899. These Americans seemed to have spent much time observing and writing about Palestinian women. While the way Palestinian women dressed seemed to preoccupy the American travelers the most, they did not limit themselves to shallow, cursory, or trendy observations. American women discussed such important topics as Palestinian women’s social positions in the family in...

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pp. 249-250

THOMAS ADAM is professor of history at the University of Texas at Arlington where he teaches German and modern transatlantic history. He has published on topics such as philanthropy, intercultural transfers, modern German history and German-American history. His most recent publications include...


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pp. 251-258

E-ISBN-13: 9781603442923
E-ISBN-10: 1603442928
Print-ISBN-13: 9781603442657
Print-ISBN-10: 1603442650

Page Count: 224
Illustrations: 10 b&w photos, 2 maps, 1 line art. Bib. Index.
Publication Year: 2011

Series Title: Walter Prescott Webb Memorial Lectures Series
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OCLC Number: 726828954
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Crossing the Atlantic

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • Travel writing -- United States -- History -- 20th century.
  • Travelers' writings, American -- History and criticism.
  • Travelers' writings, German -- History and criticism.
  • Travel writing -- Middle East -- History -- 19th century.
  • Women travelers -- History -- 19th century.
  • Travel writing -- Germany -- History -- 20th century.
  • Travel writing -- United States -- History -- 19th century.
  • Travel writing -- Germany -- History -- 19th century.
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