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CFP: The Hakluyt Society Symposium – Trading Companies and Travel Literature (11-12 Sept 2017)

Speakers confirmed: Prof Jyotsna Singh (Michigan State University), Prof Nandini Das (University of Liverpool), Prof. Michiel van Groesen (Leiden University), Prof Margaret Hunt (Uppsala University), Dr Djoeke van Netten (University of Amsterdam)

The exploration of travel literature across its myriad forms has greatly stimulated the ways we understand the global history of the early modern world. Yet, in spite of the great array of recent studies in this field, there has been only limited engagement with the place of travel literature within histories of one of the key protagonists of overseas trade, cross-cultural exchange, and empire – the trading company. From the sixteenth to the early nineteenth century, European trading companies traversed the globe in search for goods, profit, and knowledge. The overseas experiences of many travellers were published upon their return to Europe, either privately or by their employer. Even so, the vast bulk of descriptions streaming into company headquarters was never published and remains a largely untapped resource.

This conference brings together travel literature and trading companies by exploring how the various European companies collected, created, curated, protected and utilised material relating to travel and discovery around the world. Set in the historic environment of the University of Kent’s Medway campus, the Hakluyt Society Symposium 2017 joins together senior experts and early career researchers to engage in cross-disciplinary conversation. In line with the core activity of the Hakluyt Society, the symposium will include an editorial workshop focused on editing and publishing scholarly editions of travel literature. Contributions from postgraduate researchers are particularly encouraged.

Prospective speakers are invited to submit proposals of no more than 300 words for 20 minute papers, along with a brief bio statement. Potential topics may include, but are not limited to:

- The ways manuscript and printed material created by companies can help us understand the early modern ‘globalising’ world
- Secrecy, forgery and fraudulent material
- Companies as vehicles through which ideas and images about the world circulated in Europe
- How ideas originating in manuscript form within companies came to circulate in print
- The relationship between trading companies and non-corporate groups (other merchants; missionaries; diplomats; Crown-sponsored overseas enterprise, etc.)
- How non-corporate organisations sought to collect/protect/utilise travel literature
- Non-European voices and agency in (the production of) travel literature

The Hakluyt Society will make available a number of travel bursaries to postgraduate and early career applicants with limited or no alternative access to funding – if you would like to apply for a bursary please indicate this when sending your abstract and explain your reasons for applying.

Please send your abstracts to by 30th April 2017.

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