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Revolutionary-Era British Travellers in Switzerland (1779-1803): Editing Three Major Texts

Applicant Vincent Patrick Henri
Number 117843
Funding scheme Project funding (Div. I-III)
Research institution Séminaire d'anglais Faculté des lettres et sciences humaines Université de Neuchâtel
Institution of higher education University of Neuchatel - NE
Main discipline German and English languages and literature
Start/End 01.01.2008 - 31.12.2010
Approved amount 112'450.00
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Keywords (14)

Travel; Gender; Eighteenth Century; French Revolution; Landscape; Alps; Switzerland; Britain; Coxe; Williams; Macnevin; Republicanism; History; Revolution

Lay Summary (English)

Lay summary
Overall Research Goals:
The aim of this interdisciplinary project in literature and history is to shed new light on Switzerland’s role in the history of British republican thought, and in particular to test the hypothesis that the Swiss Revolution profoundly altered British representations of Switzerland. Our immediate goal is to produce scholarly print editions, with substantial critical introductions, explanatory notes and appendices, of the three most significant Revolutionary-era British travel accounts on Switzerland: William Coxe’s Travels in Switzerland (first ed. 1779), Helen Maria Williams’s A Tour in Switzerland (1798) and William Macnevin’s A Ramble through Swisserland (1803).

Significance of Project:
These three intertextually coherent, historically significant works perfectly illustrate the growing divide between the myth of natural liberty, so dear to eighteenth-century British travelers, and the realities of Swiss history, marked by revolutionary change and ushering in the modern Swiss state. Because they belong to Switzerland’s national cultural heritage and are of interest to wide-cross section of specialists and non-specialists alike both in Switzerland and internationally, we wish to make them more accessible by producing complete and reliable editions.

The research is being conducted as three separate but parallel and interrelated editing projects. Project A, Editing William Coxe’s Travels in Switzerland, is the most ambitious of the three. Our edition will include notes documenting textual variants and alterations, as well as all maps, illustrations, appendices and Ramond de Carbonnière’s notes. The introduction will analyse in detail the much debated differences between Coxe and Ramond. Paratextual material such as reviews will also be reprinted in the appendix. Project B, Editing Helen Maria Williams’ A Tour in Switzerland, will use the first edition of 1798 as the basis for our text, comparing this with the Irish and German edition as well as the two French editions to help make silent corrections and to document textual variants. Both the English and French prefaces and appendices as well as passages on Switzerland from her Sketches (1801), related poems by Williams and reviews of her work will be included. The introduction will assess the ideological differences with Coxe’s text and place her work within the current debate on women’s role in 1790s public sphere. Project C, Editing William Macnevin’s A Ramble through Swisserland, will reprint the least well known of the three texts along with notes, the original appendice and an introduction discussing its relation to Coxe and Williams as well as its historical background.

Direct link to Lay Summary Last update: 21.02.2013

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