Borders and Crossings: A Transdisciplinary Conference on Travel Writing

University of Tartu
6-8 July 2022
Venue: Jakobi 2, Ta​rtu


The 2022 edition of the Borders & Crossings conference series acknowledges more than two decades of intense development in the transdisciplinary study of travel writing, which is now a well-established field of research in the Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences.

The 2022 conference will take part in a unique context: that of a post-Soviet and Nordic country situated in a European geographical, economic and political context. Estonia’s history is marked by successive occupations, which could arguably be considered as a form of travel from the point of view of the occupiers. These occupations have affected travel to and from this area, and generated specific mobility, such as deportation and diaspora. This context brings our attention to restricted travels and the forms of control at work when it comes to travel. Additionally, this conference acknowledges the emergency of the ecological crisis and the pressure that travelling can put on the Earth system. 

Day 1, 6 July 2022
In Person / Rooms 1 & 2 / Streamed online
08:30-09:00 Registration open  
09:00-09:15 Intro  

Travels in Estonia (Zoom link)

Moderator: Rūta Šlapkauskaitė

  • Betty Hagglund: An Englishwoman in Estonia
  • Teele Saar: Role of Steamboat in Spatial Mobility. Passenger Steamboat Lines from Estonian Ports in 1837–1870
  • Reet Bender: Home Revisited. Baltic German Travel Diaries About Visits to Soviet Estonia

Heading East (Zoom link)

Moderator: Tim Hannigan

  • Lisu Wang: Gaskell’s travel in China: Translation and Reception
  • Subarna Bhattacharya: Disaster, Disease and Visual Spectacles of Travel: Tracing a Western Missionary Traveller’s Encounter with Heathenism in Colonial India
  • Abrona Lee Pandi Aden: Nature Makes the World Go Round: An Ecocritical Reading of Solon Karthak’s Travel Tales
10:45-11:00 Break  

Travel Theory (1) (Zoom link)

Moderator: Ben Cocking

  • Tiit Remm: Boundaries and points of views in public urban spaces and their representations
  • Marge Käsper: When traveling was eliminated from the world in crisis… A dystopian and a media corpus view

Scalar Travel (Zoom link)

Moderator: Sara Bédard-Goulet

  • Andrey Menshikov, Ekaterina Purgina: The Arctic in the Anthropocene: The Trans-Scalar Perspective in Travel Writing
  • Mathilde Poizat-Amar: ‘Le Mouvement des Places’: Contemporary (Sub)Urban Writing in French
  • Zoe Kinsley: “We can guess […]”: Retracing the footsteps of John Clare
12:30-15:30 Lunch & City Tour  
15:30-16:30 Keynote 1: Gina Stamm: Traveling Plants: Objects of Desire and Agents of Movement (Zoom link)  
16:30-16:45 Break  

Travel in motion (Zoom link)

Moderator: Julia O'Mahony

  • Joanna Kruczkowska: Paula Meehan’s Greek travels: Footsteps and (Eco)cure
  • Ben Cocking: Cyclic Adventures: Rhythmanalysis and mobilities in Tim Moore’s Vuelta Skelter: Riding the Remarkable 1941 Tour of Spain (2021)
  • Hella Liira: Antje Rávic Strubel‘s “Travel Writing”: Motion, Power, and Identity.

Travel Theory (2) (Zoom link)

Moderator: Marie-Laure Delaporte

  • Nadia Butt: Theories of Travel and Travel writing
  • Francisco Martinez: Writing of Another Kind: The Art of Anthropological Fiction
  • Ilona Lindh: Reading, writing and travel
18:00-18:30 Break  
18:30- Book Launch  

Day 2, 7 July 2022
In Person / Rooms 1 & 2 / Streamed online
09:00-09:15 Intro  
09:15-10:15 Keynote 2: Luc van Doorslaer: The Complexity of Cultural Translation in Travel Writing (Zoom link)  
10:15-10:30 Break  

Translation & Transfiguration (Zoom link)

Moderator: Luc van Doorslaer

  • Grzegorz Moroz: Mistranslating Travel: The Case of the Polish Translation of Robert Macfarlane’s The Old Ways
  • Ana Calvete: Dominant and vulnerable travellers and travellees Putting words in the travellee’s mouth: Reporting the speech of the foreign other in contemporary travelogues
  • Tatiana Calderón Le Joliff: Transfigured bodies: gigantism and posthumanism in migration literature

Reconstructing identities (Zoom link)

Moderator: Zoe Kinsley

  • Tim Hannigan: On the Border: the Tamar-crossing trope and constructions of difference in nineteenth- and twentieth-century travel writing of Cornwall
  • Pamela Pati: Meeting India through its Alleyways: A Shift in Narrative Representation in the Contemporary Indian Travel Writing
  • Shafag Dadashova: Resettlement and Identity in Post-Soviet emigrant authors’ s autobiographical writings.
12:00-13:00 Lunch  

Travels in Central Asia (Zoom link)

Moderator: Julia Kuehn

  • Fida Hussain: Travel and Cultural Heritage of Food Along the Ancient Crossroads of Higher Asia
  • Ahmad Gholi: The Study of Counter-Orientalist Elements in Ella Maillart’s The Cruel Way
  • Julia Szoltysek: How to Disembark Completely: Annemarie Schwarzenbach’s and Ella Maillart’s Afghan Journey (1939)

Déterritorialisations et reterritorialisations : entre l’Est et l’Ouest (Zoom link)

Moderator: Marge Käsper

  • Vincent Dautancourt: Dans les pas des journalistes français à la frontière russo-estonienne
  • Tanel Lepsoo: Le voyage dans le temps : le sort des mythes anciens dans le monde contemporain
  • Liudmyla Parfeniuk: Est-Nord-Ouest-Soi : le voyage vers l’identité dans Le Vin de la Solitude d’Irène Némirovsky
14:30-14:45 Break  

Travels in Estonia & the USSR (Zoom link)

Moderator: Julia O'Mahony

  • Stéphanie Gourdon: Vindicating the Rights of the ‘Antient’ Estonians while Negotiating Oppressive Mobility in A Residence on the Shore of the Baltic by Elizabeth Rigby/Lady Eastlake (1841)
  • Consuelo Rubio Alcover: The White Mirror. Spanish Travellers in the USSR
  • Weronika Rokicka: The periphery of the USSR: Indian travel writings on non-Russian Soviet republics and countries of the Eastern block

Female travel narratives (Zoom link)

Moderator: Betty Haglund

  • Olga Szmidt: Not That Kind of Road Narratives. Lone Women on the Way in the Recent Central- Eastern European Novels and Movies
  • Astrid Fizyczak: Elizabeth Bishop 1 ’s Poetic Journeys
  • Marek Pawlicki: Nadine Gordimer’s Travels in Africa
16:15-16:30 Break  

Taking Flight (Zoom link)

Moderator: Gina Stamm

  • Sven Blehner: Travelling and Lines of Flight: Meditations on De- and Re-stratification
  • Rūta Šlapkauskaitė: Avian Itineraries in Gary Barwin’s Yiddish for Pirates

Plants Mobility (Zoom link)

Moderator: Tanel Lepsoo

  • Kathryn Walchester: Nature writing, place and mobility; Copsford by Walter J. C. Murray (1949)
  • Nicolas de Ribas: La variété botanique de l’Amérique espagnole dans le Voyage autour du monde exécuté par ordre du Roi sur la corvette La Coquille, 1822-1825, de Louis-Isidore Duperrey
19:00- Conference Dinner  


Day 3, 8 July 2022
In Person / Rooms 1 & 2 / Streamed online
10:00-12:00 Estonian National Museum Tour  
12:30-13:30 Lunch  

Travel & Conflict (Zoom link)

Moderator: Sara Bédard-Goulet

  • Ross Cameron: Extending the parameters of Europe in British travel writing about the Balkan Wars (1912-13)
  • Marie-Laure Delaporte: Crossing the Green Line: writing the trauma of invasion and exile in Lia Lapithi’s works
  • Nicholas Barnett: Photography, Travel Writing and the Cold War

Alternate Perspectives (Zoom link)

Moderator: Kathryn Walchester

  • Mohamed Baya: Grand Tour Marocchino Style: Travel Literature and Parodic Echoes
  • Gábor Gelléri: A trip to the ruins of the colonial exhibition
  • Laurence Machet: Switching the paradigm: Henry R. Schoolcraft’s (mis)adventures in the Ozarks
15:00-15:15 Break  
15:15-16:15 Keynote 3: Leena Kurvet-Käosaar: Writing to Survive: Storying Life Experience of Forced Dislocation (Zoom link)  
16:15-16:30 Wrap Up  
16:30- [Optional] Bog Visit & Onwards Travel!  

Call for proposals

We invite conference participants to reflect on the following themes:

  • Travel and translation, especially concerning “small languages”
  • Travel to/from/around the Nordic and Baltic countries
  • North-north, North-south, East-west interactions
  • Dominant and vulnerable travellers and travellees
  • Travel and decolonialization
  • Slowness and stillness
  • Familiar places and microspection
  • Human and nonhuman travels
  • Travel and the Anthropocene
  • Travel and nature writing, ecocriticism
  • Fiction and reality of travel
  • Digital and proxy travels
  • Travel and diseases, cure travels and places
  • Images in transit
  • Theories of travel and travel writing
  • Travel and gender/sexuality
  • Travel journalism, guidebooks and digital media
  • Craft and practice of travel writing
  • Heritage, pilgrimage and footsteps travel

The conference will take place at the University of Tartu and is open to postgraduate students, academics, and practitioners (inside or outside academia) interested in travel writing from a broad range of perspectives. With this conference, we wish to insist on the inclusivity of this field of study and practice and welcome proposals from but not restricted to literary studies, travel and tourism studies, media and journalism studies, creative writing, history, politics, sociology, and geography, with a focus on any time period and any geographical context.

Proposals are invited for 20-minute papers or creative pieces, and for 60-minute panels of three speakers or writing workshops. Proposals of approximately 250 words for a paper (up to 600 words for a panel or workshop), accompanied by a short bionote (no longer than 100 words) including your academic affiliation (if applicable), should be sent to (doc or docx format appreciated) by 1 March 2022. Notifications of acceptance will be sent by 1 April.

Although we wish for all participants to be able to attend the conference in Tartu, we plan for a hybrid conference so that participants unable to travel can still present their paper. A publication following the conference is planned but it will entail re-submitting an article abstract for a special issue in a peer-reviewed journal.

Deadline for abstracts: 1 March
Notification of acceptance: 1 April


Sara Bédard-Goulet, University of Tartu professor of Romance Studies (
Julia O’Mahony (

Cover image: Anna Guilló, enhanced Forward Presence (eFP), 2020.