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The Hakluyt Society Symposium: Trading Companies and Travel Literature

Chatham Historic Dockyard, University of Kent (Medway Campus)


This conference brings together travel literature and trading companies by exploring how the various European companies collected, created, curated, protected and utilised material relating to travel and discovery around the world. The exploration of travel literature across its myriad forms has greatly stimulated the ways we understand the global history of the early modern world. Yet, in spite of the great array of recent studies in this field, there has been only limited engagement with the place of travel literature within histories of one of the key protagonists of overseas trade, cross-cultural exchange, and empire – the trading company. From the sixteenth to the early nineteenth century, European trading companies traversed the globe in search for goods, profit, and knowledge. The overseas experiences of many travellers were published upon their return to Europe, either privately or by their employer. Even so, the vast bulk of descriptions streaming into company headquarters was never published and remains a largely untapped resource.


Set in the historic environment of the University of Kent’s Medway campus, the Hakluyt Society Symposium 2017 joins together senior experts and early career researchers to engage in cross-disciplinary conversation. Confirmed speakers include Prof Jyotsna Singh (Michigan State University), Prof. Michiel van Groesen (Leiden University), Prof Margaret Hunt (Uppsala University), Dr Djoeke van Netten (University of Amsterdam) and Prof. Anne Goldgar (King’s College London). A full programme for the event can be found here. In line with the core activity of the Hakluyt Society, the symposium will also include an editorial workshop focused on editing and publishing scholarly editions of travel literature.


The full registration fee is £60. This includes lunch and refreshments on both days and a wine reception on day 1. Hakluyt Society members enjoy a reduced fee of £30. Hakluyt Society student members register for free. More information on the event and registration can be found here.

Original author: RWillie
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