On Expedition 2019
ERFGOED
with Wikipedia
On Expedition 2019

Annemieke Klijn

Travel books are fascinating: they tell stories about other countries, different cultures, different times, in short, about an unknown world. In this era of increasing globalization the interest in cultural exchange and travel writing appears to be on the rise. What is more comfortable than reading a book about risky adventures, sitting quietly and safely on a chair? Since a few years, students from the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences have been going ‘On Expedition’: they delve into the travel treasures from the Jesuit collection of Maastricht University’s library, select a book themselves and write a bachelor thesis. They participate in a Maastricht Research Based Learning project, which gives motivated students the opportunity to do research for a longer period to write a Bachelor's thesis. To disseminate the results of their research to a wider audience, they write a lemma to the free Wikipedia encyclopaedia.

Travel books are a hybrid genre. The author is not necessarily an eyewitness and sometimes relies on the experiences of his predecessors or his fellow travellers. Moreover, sometimes the line between fact and fiction is not very clear. This genre is especially interesting because it touches on various themes: history, religion, literature, geography, economics, natural sciences, politics, colonialism, culture, gender, ethnography, anthropology and so on. An interdisciplinary approach is therefore required. The students become proficient in discourse analysis and visual analysis to critically interpret the travel books. The books touch on issues about the interaction between ‘the other’ and ‘one’s own identity’. So, they not only provide insight into other people and cultures, but also tell a lot about the person who writes about it, about his or her perspective, about his or her norms and values.

The Jesuit collection contains a striking number of often lavishly illustrated travel books. They bear witness to the broad mental horizon and the strong international orientation of the Jesuits. The international orientation of the Jesuits agrees well with the international student population of the FASoS. In 2019, under the supervision of Annemieke Klijn and Lies Wesseling, seven students wrote a Bachelor's thesis. Loula Bounouar focused on Through the Dark Continent: Or, the Sources of the Nile. Around the Great Lakes or Equatorial Africa and down the Livingstone River to the Atlantic Ocean (1878) by Henry Morton Stanley, Mia van de Burgt on Observations in the Orient. The account of a Journey to Catholic Mission Fields in Japan, Korea, Manchuria, China, Indo-China, and the Philippines (1919) by James Anthony Walsh, Simone Da Ponte on De plaats van Nederlands-Indië in het Koninkrijk: stemmen van overzee (1946) by Willem H. van Helsdingen, Jill Decrop Ernst on En Orient: impressions et réminiscences (1867) by Nikolai Vladimirovich Adlerberg, Cassey Juhasz on The Turkish Embassy Letters (1763) by Lady Mary Wortley, Lara Stammen on  Reisen in den Aequinoctial Gegenden des neuen Continents ‘'Für Deutschlands Jugend’. (1867) by Karl Goehring, and Anni Schleicher on A Northern Summer; or, Travels Round the Baltic Through Denmark, Sweden, Russia, Prussia and Parts of Germany in the Year 1804 (1805) by Sir John Carr.

Thanks to the Wikipedia community, the research results were published on Wikipedia:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Imagology

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A_Northern_Summer

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Van_Helsdingen

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/En_Orient:_impressions_et_réminiscences.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mary_Wortley_Montaga

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christian_manliness

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Observations_in_the_Orient

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