The Journey is My Home – Early Travel Writing in Canada & Japan

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March 21st, 2016 @ 6:30 pm - 8:15 pm EDT

Cost: Free
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Not able to escape Toronto’s cold and slush this season? Don’t despair. The Japan Foundation, Toronto is offering an exciting substitute to airplane or even armchair travel: a Travel Lecture Series. In each installment, a pair of speakers will address a particular travel-related issue from both a Canadian and a Japanese perspective. Coming up in March are talks about Special Interest Tourism and Travel Writing. We hope to see you there.

For the second installment of our Travel Lecture series, The Japan Foundation, Toronto is pleased to present a pair of lectures about early travel writing in Japan and Canada. Although separated by great distance and in some cases great periods of time, ‘writing’ their landscapes, both to claim the land and to present it to others, was a preoccupation for authors in both cultures.

Wanderers in a Distant Country: Re-imagining Canadian Spaces in Catharine Parr Traill & Susanna Moodie – Prof. S. Bailey

Susanna Moodie’s Roughing It in the Bush (1852) and Catharine Parr Traill’s The Backwoods of Canada (1836) are considered foundational works in Canadian literary history, representing an early narrative tradition grounded in accounts of pioneer life and exploration. Both sisters published in mainstream literary periodicals in Britain prior to immigrating, and both wrote extensively for British and American markets while living in Canada. Moodie and Traill thus play a significant role in interpreting Canada for an international readership, in addition to documenting their own progress in making a foreign space ‘home.’ Professor Bailey will trace the means by which Moodie and Traill ‘write’ the Canadian landscape both to attract transnational readers and to bind themselves to their new Canadian home: Traill, through the language of scientific observation and natural history, and Moodie, through sentimental Romantic traditions.

Under Trees and Over Rocks: Travel Writing in Early Japan – Prof. K. Strand

Travel was all the rage in early modern, or Edo (1600-1868), Japan.  Its importance as a part of life is indicated by a range of works by major figures of medieval and early modern travel writing, from the poetry of itinerant priest Saigyô (1118-1190) to the famous travel diary of Matsuo Bashô (1643-1693), Narrow Road to the Deep North (1693). But how did this interest arise? Professor Strand will explore the many different ways in which people of medieval and early modern Japan engaged in a culture of travel, from writing diaries about official travel and pilgrimages to major sacred centres, to consuming poetry and images of famous sites and locations throughout Japan. While traveling to compose poetry about famous places seems a benign endeavor, a culture of travel writing developed as an act of inscribing new maps on the landscape, and constructing a specific historical ideology.

About the speakers:

StrandKendra Strand is a visiting professor of Japanese at St. Olaf College, where she teaches Japanese language, literature, and culture. She received her PhD in Japanese Literature from the University of Michigan. In her dissertation, she translates four travel diaries by political elites in the fourteenth century, and examines how landscape and travel are used in the diaries to address issues of social and political authority. Her research focuses on pre-modern Japanese travel writing, poetry, and visual culture. She is also interested in representations of Japanese history in contemporary literature and popular culture.




Bailey_webSuzanne Bailey is an Associate Professor in the Department of English Literature at Trent University. She is also a member of Trent’s Public Texts (English) MA program, and at the Frost Centre for Canadian Studies. She holds a PhD in Comparative Literature from the University of Toronto. She teaches a range of courses, from Victorian literature and culture to contemporary travel writing and women’s writing. Her research centres on how we come to know what we know, and how we can learn to see and understand the value of other stories and perspectives.




Related events:

Under Trees and Over Rocks: Travel Writing in Early Japan – A lecture by Professor Kendra Strand
Tuesday, March 22   3:00-4:00 pm
The Pit, Lady Eaton College
1600 West Bank Drive, Peterborough ON K9L 1Z6
Admission: Free


Organized by:
The Japan Foundation, Toronto
With support from:
University of Toronto Libraries
Trent University: Department of English Literature, Department of History, Public Texts (English) MA Program, Lady Eaton College, Trent International Program






March 21st, 2016 @ 6:30 pm
March 21st, 2016 @ 8:15 pm
Doors Open:
6:00 pm
Event Category:


The Japan Foundation, Toronto & the Ted Rogers School of Management
(416) 966-1600


Blackburn Room, 4th Floor, Robarts Library
130 St. George St.
Toronto, ON M5S 1A5 Canada
+ Google Map
(416) 966-1600


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