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PUTTING THE WORLD INTO A BOX: A GEOGRAPHY OF NINETEENTH-CENTURY ‘TRAVELLING LANDSCAPES’

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ABSTRACT

Materiality, performance and mobility have recently attracted increasing interdisciplinary interest and called for new approaches to landscape. In most cases, however, these remain limited to the first meaning of landscape, as a complex of material/ visual forms in a given geographic area. By contrast, the second meaning of landscape, as a representation on different media, has remained out of such a debate. This article proposes a reconcep-tualization of landscape representations as travelling objects at once visual and material. It does so through the example of nineteenth-century panoramas. Part of a broader history of performative representation, these are approached on the one hand as optical devices participating in the construction of a ‘new kind of observer’, and on the other as material objects travelling across space and time, through different cultural contexts and changing accordingly. In their various manifestations, panoramas and other optical devices paralleled and complemented formal geographical education, but they also constituted terminals in the nineteenth-century geographical web of perception comparable to the TV, the internet or video cell-phones in our contemporary world.
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Keywords: British Empire; landscape representations; materiality; mobility; optical devices; panoramas

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: School of Geographical Sciences University of Bristol University Road Bristol UK BS8 1SS United Kingdom, Email: [email protected]

Publication date: 2007-12-01

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