A Passion for Travel: Victorian Collectors, Travellers and Tourists

17 May 2016, 14:00 - 15:00

Fitzwilliam Museum

Whether it was excursions to the Continent or expeditions to the ‘blank spaces’ on the map, the Victorian period was an era of unprecedented mobility. When it came to other nations, races and religions, nineteenth-century Britons were relentlessly curious and shamelessly acquisitive. This was the age of steam travel, railways, the rise of package tourism and the first commercial guidebooks. Yet modernity also facilitated fresh encounters with the distant past. Professor Janet Soskice (author of the acclaimed Sisters of Sinai, 2009) and Dr Brian Murray explore the ways in which travel, missionary activity and historical scholarship reshaped Victorian understandings and assumptions about the Biblical and Classical past. While many of the travellers, antiquaries and apologists who visited the Middle East hoped to discover new evidence for the historical authenticity of the Bible, what they found could equally destabilize established readings of it. This talk offers a whistle-stop tour of nineteenth-century exploration, travel and tourism, before turning to the fascinating career of one of Victorian Cambridge’s finest scholars and collectors, the Reverend Samuel Savage Lewis, whose personal treasury forms an important part of the Fitzwilliam collection.

An afternoon talk open to the public, by the ERC project Bible and Antiquity in 19th-century Culture.

Speakers:

Brian Murray (King's College London) 

Janet Soskice (Cambridge)

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This event is supported by funding from the European Research Council under the European Union’s Seventh Framework Programme (FP7/2007-2013)/ ERC grant agreement no 295463.