Foreign bodies: British travel to Paris and the troubled national self, 1789-1830

Victoria E. Thompson

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


This article analyses British-authored travel accounts to Paris during the period 1789-1830 in the context of shifting attitudes toward the body, the emotions, and national identity. The study argues that in the early nineteenth century, as discourses of national identity that were established over the course of the eighteenth century were gravely undermined by the upheavals of Revolution and war, travel served to destabilise categories of identity in significant ways. Second, it suggests an approach for examining how individual men and women experienced, or, at least, related their experiences of, belonging to a nation on the most personal level-that of perceptions of the self. Travel narratives written in the years following 1814 thus help us understand how the confluence of shifting models of both national and individual identities produced an intense anxiety that travellers expressed and experienced in both political and personal ways.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)243-265
Number of pages23
JournalStudies in Travel Writing
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 2011


  • British
  • French Revolution
  • Helen Maria Williams
  • Paris
  • Travel
  • body
  • identity
  • national identity
  • nationalism

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Literature and Literary Theory


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