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Nature, Self, and Alterity in Medieval European Travel Writing

Author Chen CUI
Director of thesis Prof. Denis Renevey
Co-director of thesis Prof. Christiania Whitehead
Summary of thesis

This thesis looks at how “nature writing” and passages about non-human elements can shed light on the European perceptions about personhood and subjectivity in the Middle Ages, as anterior to the Early Modern era generally held to be when modern selfhood emerged and started to take shape. With focus on travel texts — physical and allegorical travels both included — this thesis lays emphasis on the European encounters with the exotic outside world by means of undertakings like pilgrimage, the Crusades, commercial trekking, exploratory trip, and, as typical of certain medieval texts, the internal journeys triggered by meditation, contemplation, and the moving of the soul. Analysis will be conducted as to how given authors (may have) resorted to “nature writing“ and eco-narratives to articulate and/or embody their understandings of medieval selfhood and subjectivity in their theological, anatomical, ethnographical, geographical, and environmental senses, in times of cross-cultural confrontations with the naturally and culturally alien beings in the concomitant material and conceptual worlds.

Status beginning
Administrative delay for the defence 2025