Human encounters with the natural world are inseparable from the history of travel. Nature, as fearsome obstacle, a wonder to behold or a source of therapeutic refuge, is bound up with the story of human mobility. Stories of this mobility give readers a sense of the diversity of the natural world, how they might interpret and respond to it and how human preoccupations are a help or a hindrance in maintaining bio-cultural diversity. Travel writing has constantly shaped how humans view the environment from foreign adventures to flight-shaming. If much of modern travel writing has been based on ready access to environmentally damaging forms of transport how do travel writers deal with a practice that is destroying the world they claim to cherish? This paper explores human travel encounters with the environment over the centuries and asks what is the future for travel writing in the age of the Anthropocene?
Michael Cronin is 1776 Professor of French at Trinity College, Dublin. He has published extensively on language, culture, translation and travel writing. Among his works are Across the Lines: travel, language, translation (2000), Translation and Identity (2006), The Expanding World: towards a politics of microspection (2012) and Eco-Translation: translation and ecology in the Age of the Anthropocene (2017). His current interests are in developing eco-criticism in relation to modern languages and translation, exploring the notion of ‘translation trauma’ in relation to population displacement and investigating language identities as mediated through travel.