Visitors to the conference are very welcome! Please register via e-mail to lapasec2019.englit(at) until 22 September at the latest (no fee charged!).

With the eighteenth century, the so-called Age of Discovery, or Age of Exploration, in European history reached its fulminant peak. Apart from professional geographic exploration, such as the travels around the world of James Cook and Louis Antoine de Bougainville, travelling to Continental Europe (e.g. the Grand Tour) and further abroad had become fashionable for many people of independent means. The literature of the time is thus replete with travel writing, ranging from scientific reports following exploration tours, via observations of countries and their people, such as Lady Mary Wortley Montague’s letters, to satiric “travel reports” such as Jonathan Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels. (British) people had taken to roaming the earth and sharing their adventures and opinions by publishing their experiences. As Book III of Gulliver’s Travels and Robert Paltock's Peter Wilkins suggest, the eighteenth century saw a lot of speculation (in scientific, pseudo-scientific and fictional writing) on technical innovation, travels into outer space, and trans-human development. While Swift drew on previous and contemporary speculation that was to culminate in Science Fiction, Paltock exploited (among other sources) the serious discussion in Mathematical Magick of John Wilkins, Bishop of Chester, of the question whether man could acquire the art of flying. Yet, the eighteenth century was also an Age of Discovery within. Doctors and scientists rendered the fields of surgery, obstetrics and pathology socially acceptable and the development within medicine gained much momentum. Exploring what lies underneath or within through medicine or early psychology widened the scope of human understanding and changed the perception of the human being within the world. Exploring and discovering is thus a core motivation of professional and non-professional persons in the long eighteenth century. The conference aims at bringing together a variety of approaches and results addressing the following questions: How was exploration motivated? How did scientific, medical or other discoveries change human understanding? Which effects did spatial or medical discoveries have on politics and society? Or quite basically, how was exploration made possible? Who ordered explorative voyages or anatomical studies? Who wrote about discoveries and to what purpose? These questions are certainly only a fraction of the plethora of questions scholars could ask about this Age of Discoveries.


Click here for the programme.


Prof. Dr. Christoph Houswitschka, University of Bamberg
Prof. Dr. Frédéric Ogée, Université Paris Diderot
Dr. Kerstin-Anja Münderlein, University of Bamberg