John Ghazvinian

Andrew W. Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow in the Humanities

20062007 Forum on Travel

John Ghazvinian

Contract Author, Harcourt Trade Publishers


Oxford University

“A certaine tickling humour”: Passport Records and the Re-Fashioning of English Foreign Travel, 1560–1660

The story of early modern English travelers has generally been treated by scholars as a subplot to larger narratives—whether political history, art history, or, more recently, textual criticism and constructions of the Other. It has never been discussed as a distinct development within the cultural history of Britain, with a unique narrative of its own. Historians have traditionally downplayed that a growing number of travelers took part in a self-fashioning exercise that consciously emphasized a “mere curiosity to see”. In an effort to correct both these tendencies, Dr. Ghazvinian will argue that it is time to study the growth of “curiosity travel” from 1560–1660 as a distinct topic within British cultural history, in much the same way that we study crime or witchcraft. An exhaustive textual and demographic analysis of nearly 2,000 passport records is expected to shed important new light on the nature of early modern travel in England in the century leading up to the Stuart Restoration and the “birth” of the Grand Tour.