Transatlantic Departures: Mapping Catharine Maria Sedgwick’s 1839-1840 Tour Abroad uses ArcGIS and StoryMap software to visualize a digital map of 19th-century U.S. author, Catharine Maria Sedgwick’s 1839 trip through England and Europe. Our project allows users to “see” Sedgwick’s journey, but also helps them consider the ways U.S. authors perceived and positioned their national identity in relation to “Old World” Europe.
Letters from Abroad to Kindred at Home (1841) offers a window into urban and rural life throughout England, Belgium, Germany, Switzerland, France, and Italy in 1839 and 1840. Nineteenth-century travel narratives depict transatlantic relationships between the U.S. and its Anglo-European neighbors, but in Sedgwick’s work, the reader learns as much about the writer’s own home and fellow citizens. These tales of literary tourism offer contemporary readers far more than impressions of nineteenth-century life; rather, they provide a window into the ways many U.S. citizens understood their own national identity and articulated narratives of “American exceptionalism” and notions of “greatness.” Our project mines the narrative architecture of Sedgwick’s Letters in order to create a detailed timeline and location map of her journey. Alongside the locations she visits, we plan to eventually include scans of the letters as well as excerpted passages that highlight key features of the locale and historically appropriate images of the sites she encountered with her astute commentary on the people and places providing critical context.
Alyssa Prosper and Dr. Von Cannon presenting at the Society for the Study of American Women Writers 2018 Triennial Conference
This project was made possible by the Seidler Family Benefaction to Florida Gulf Coast University, which support collaborative projects between faculty and students .