Politics, religion and pleasure: travel writing about China in the literary and Philosophical Society of Newcastle, 1880-1925

Humes, Hannah Anne (2018) Politics, religion and pleasure: travel writing about China in the literary and Philosophical Society of Newcastle, 1880-1925. Doctoral thesis, Northumbria University.

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Founded in 1793, Newcastle’s Literary & Philosophical Society is the largest independent library outside of London, with collections as diverse as its history. Since its founding, travel writing has made up a significant proportion of the society’s collections. By the nineteenth century, connections between the North East and the Far East ranged from industrial, to cultural and religious and this is reflected in the Lit & Phil’s travel writing collections. Until now, however, the significance of Newcastle’s interests in China at the turn of the twentieth century has been neglected in scholarship.

Nonetheless, the library’s catalogues demonstrate a continued interest in the acquisition of travel accounts, within which books on China feature in significantly larger numbers than other countries in Asia. This thesis is the first to examine the society’s collection of travel writing in relation to regional interest in China at the turn of the twentieth century. Moreover, I argue that the uniqueness of the collection is a result of this specific historical context of Newcastle.

My thesis also provides an original, interdisciplinary model for approaching regional libraries by combining collection-focused methods with close readings of individual items, alongside the historical and regional context of the society. A close reading approach to the books within the collection uncovers the richness of the Lit & Phil’s ‘Travel Writing: China’ and demonstrates how collection analysis alongside a literary approach can upset expectations of regional libraries. This thesis approaches travel writing as read by the members of the Lit & Phil, to demonstrate that the collection is a direct response to the intellectual interest demonstrated by the society’s membership in the early twentieth century, leading to the development of the diverse and unique collection of travel narratives in the Lit & Phil.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Uncontrolled Keywords: Politics, religion, pleasure, travel, writing China, literature, Philosophical Society of Newcastle, 1880-1925
Subjects: Q200 Comparative Literary studies
T100 Chinese studies
T900 Others in Eastern, Asiatic, African, American and Australasian Languages, Literature and related subjects
Department: Faculties > Arts, Design and Social Sciences > Humanities
University Services > Graduate School > Doctor of Philosophy
Depositing User: John Coen
Date Deposited: 21 Apr 2020 10:14
Last Modified: 31 Jul 2021 18:30
URI: http://nrl.northumbria.ac.uk/id/eprint/42845

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