Year

2004

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

English Studies Program - Faculty of Arts

Abstract

This is a study of travel guidebooks to India as Orientalist productions. Using post-colonial theory, it demonstrates how Orientalist discourse has maintained its cultural hegemony by cutting across a range of genres in the field of travel texts and changing over time. The first part of the study, situated in early nineteenth-century England and India, traces the emergence of the guidebook from the genre of the travel narrative, examining shaping influences, such as the exhibition and museum, and the aesthetic of the picturesque. Through a textual analysis of early guidebooks to India published by John Murray and Thomas Cook, it shows how the guidebook, through the discourses of science and commodification, produced a more systematic form of Orientalist discourse than the travel narrative by constructing the Other as commodified spectacle. The second half of the thesis follows the development of Orientalist discourse in travel guidebooks over time to demonstrate how, within the relations of contemporary global tourism, it is becoming increasingly hegemonic. The study compares Lonely Planet India, a contemporary guidebook published by the popular travel publisher known as the Lonely Planet, to the guidebooks published by John Murray and Thomas Cook, showing how the Other is commodified within the relations of postmodernism. As a result of heightened aestheticization, the blurring of genres, and innovations in global digital technology, the printed guidebook has become part of a matrix of digital and print productions that constructs an increasingly interlocking economy of Orientalist travel discourse. This consolidates the Orientalism of the earlier guidebooks, commodifying the Other into a hyperreal spectacle that functions as a site of spiritual transformation for the Western tourist as it reinscribes the colonial project through a rehearsal of imperial nostalgia.

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