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Mediating Travel Writing, Mediated China: The Middle Kingdom in Travel Books and Blogs

Calzati, Stefano (2016) Mediating Travel Writing, Mediated China: The Middle Kingdom in Travel Books and Blogs. PhD thesis, University of Leeds.

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Abstract

This thesis looks at travel writing about China crossing three main research axes. The main one is represented by the comparison between Western-authored contemporary travel books and travel blogs. The majority of studies on Western travel writing about China focuses on pre-modern and modern texts, while much less attention has been dedicated to contemporary travelogues. At the same time, by projecting the genre onto the web, this study offers a mapping of the blogosphere and questions the literary and epistemological status of travel writing. Through a close reading analysis, the aim is to outline medial and rhetorical differences and similarities between travel books and blogs, particularly in terms of how China is represented, as well as the way in which travel writers perceive themselves. In this latter respect, interviews with travel authors and bloggers are also included. The second research axis explores the diachronic evolution of Western-authored travel books about the Middle Kingdom. Building on the findings of the first part of the thesis, the analysis looks at texts from the end of the 19th century throughout the 20th century, complementing the attention to pre-modern and modern travel accounts of earlier studies on travel writing about China. The goal is to understand if and how the genre and the representation of China have changed over the last century. The third axis is cross-cultural: in the last chapter a number of contemporary Chinese-authored travel accounts are analyzed. Referring to existing literature about Chinese travel writing, to be highlighted are the rhetorical and medial differences between “classic” and contemporary texts, as well as between books and blogs. Concerning the first research axis, findings suggest that Western travel books are more diversified generically speaking than travel blogs. Moreover, while the former provide a rather composite representation of the country, the latter are mainly devoted to deliver objectified touristic information. As for the second research axis, no substantial shifts were detected in the genre’s features, or in the way in which China has been represented in Western travel writing during the 20th century. Lastly, it is advanced that Chinese travel books are deeply politicized, while travel blogs tend to convey a contemplative representation of the country, more in the spirit of “classic” Chinese travel writing. However, differently from Western writers, both Chinese authors and bloggers manage to portray China from a variety of points of view.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Keywords: Travel writing, travel books, blogs, China, transmediality
Academic Units: The University of Leeds > Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Cultures (Leeds) > Fine Art, History of Art & Cultural Studies (Leeds)
Depositing User: Mr Stefano Calzati
Date Deposited: 23 Aug 2016 12:13
Last Modified: 23 Aug 2016 12:13
URI: http://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/13702

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