Date of Award
Master of Arts (MA)
This thesis attempts to resituate the study of the picturesque, shifting it away from the analysis of the picturesque as an aesthetic category or as a politically inscribed mode of representation toward the critical assessment of the picturesque as a social practice. As such, I locate the picturesque in the context of late eighteenth-century domestic British tourism. This thesis gives an analysis of late eighteenth-century guidebooks and travel journals which foregrounds their instructional role in the tourist's production of picturesque landscapes. The picturesque, I argue, should not be seen simply as a set of conventional motifs and compositional structures, but as a tourist practice, in which the leisure traveller participates by following the directions set forth in the guidebooks and travel journals of the time. The examination of the picturesque as practice allows this thesis to link the picturesque to other socio-cultural activities, namely those involved in the late eighteenth-century production and viewing of graphic art. I offer an investigation of the late eighteenth-century tourist's textually-mediated composition of the landscape which connects it to the growing availability of pictorial art in British society, an event which I contend is inseparable from the new techniques of mechanical reproduction and the proliferation of art exhibitions. It is here, at the level of social practice, and not at the level of representation, that I attempt to link the picturesque to contemporary economics and politics.
Bowen, Michael John, "Reading the Picturesque Eye: Eighteenth - Century Scenic Tourism and Travel Literature" (1995). Open Access Dissertations and Theses. Paper 6829.
McMaster University Library