About the Project

Ars apodemica, or ‘The Art of Travel’, was a genre of travel advice writing which flourished across Europe from the sixteenth century onwards. While the genre has Antique forerunners (such as Seneca’s comments on travel in his letter to Lucilius, ‘On Care of Health and Peace of Mind’, no. CIV), its immediate roots were in humanist attempts to codify and develop late medieval travel practice, and to improve it from moral, educational, and practical points of view. Apodemic texts also gave guidelines on how to systematise the knowledge acquired by travelling, in order to benefit the learned community (Respublica Literarum, or Republic of Letters). These writings (several hundred in number) can be read as milestones in the formation of modern scientific methodology, but also as discourses on social practices of the period such as the Grand Tour. The term ‘Ars apodemica’ translated into several vernacular languages including English, French (‘Art de voyager’) and German (‘Reisekunst’ or ‘Reiseklugheit’). The concept continues to be relevant in the modern world, see for example popular philosopher Alain de Botton’s book Art of Travel (2002), or the contemporary idea of the ‘gap year’.

Aims and scope

Theodor Zwinger, Methodus apodemica (1577), copy from Bayerische Staatsbibliothek

The Art of Travel, 1500-1850, database will set a new paradigm for the study of travel advice writing, greatly expanding the area of study, providing new research tools for scholarship, and stimulating studies of previously neglected materials. This project builds on the foundational studies and bibliographies which established Ars apodemica as a field of study. These include: Edward Godfrey Cox, A Reference Guide to the Literature of Travel: Including Voyages, Geographical Descriptions, Adventures, Shipwrecks and Expeditions (1935); Luigi Monga, A Bibliography of Renaissance Hodoeporics (1500-1700), in Annali d'italianistica 14 (1996): L'odeporica/Hodoeporics, ed. Luigi Monga, 645-662; and in particular Justin Stagl, Klaus Orda, and Christel Kämpfer, Apodemiken: Eine räsonnierte Bibliographie der reisetheoretischen Literatur des 16., 17. Und 18. Jahrhunderts (1983). Material drawn from or developing on these sources is identified as such in our records. However, this database supersedes the work of its predecessors in its scope, detail, and use of digital materials. This database is intended as a one stop destination for researchers to discover apodemic literature and authors, and orient their studies and further research. We provide biographical and bibliographical context and description, relevant scholarly references, cross-references to other works, and in the vast majority of records direct links to digital reproductions of specific texts.

Phase I of the Art of Travel (April 2017) contains complete linked records for 177 separate apodemic texts and 165 individuals relevant to these texts. The records describe travel advice texts, their authors, publication details, intellectual contexts, and thematic content and arguments. The meta-data and tags associated with these records produce data visualisations representing the language, date, and print genre, of this material. Phase I represents approximately one third of the corpus of apodemic texts which the research phases of this project have identified and the scope of the Art of Travel database will be expanded significantly in future releases.

Art of Travel focuses upon European writing on theories and methods of travel rather than practical travel advice such as travel guides, route descriptions, or travel almanacs. Major groups of sources include:

  • humanist orations and disputations on travel
  • academic prize contest entries
  • literary essays, treatises, and poems
  • letters of advice (often to Grand Tour travellers)
  • commentaries or critiques of the practice of Grand Tour
  • considerations of travel as an element of pedagogical programs
  • sermons on travel
  • instructions on how to describe foreign lands systematically (from humanist exemplary city and country descriptions, to Ramist tables of observable phenomena, questionnaires, and guides to scientific methodologies for the systematic gathering and organising of information about foreign lands)
  • apodemic texts appearing within longer geographical and travel accounts, as well as encyclopaedias
  • miscellaneous works engaging substantially with the apodemic tradition

Format of entries

Apodemic texts often appear as shorter sections of larger works, for example, the preface to Richard Lassels’s The Voyage of Italy (1670), or the chapter ‘On Foreign Travel’ in Vicesimus Knox’s Liberal Education (1781). Consequently, this database foregrounds the ‘apodemic text’ (i.e. the section of writing focussed upon apodemic themes) over the edition (i.e. the publication in which this text appeared). This organisational principle has implications for the browse and search functions of the database. For example, the ‘Browse by Title’ tab lists Knox’s work under the title ‘[On Foreign Travel]’ rather than Liberal Education. Edition titles (e.g. ‘Liberal Education’) can be found using the search function.

In all cases where the apodemic text is a shorter section of a longer work the bibliographical record will specify the pages in which this section occurs (e.g. ‘’On Foreign Travel' appears as essay XL, pp. 332-40 of the 1781 first edition’). In cases where multiple texts occur in one edition (e.g. Profitable Instructions, 1633) links to each of the texts in each edition are included in the bibliographical record (e.g. ‘To the reader’, ‘The Late E[arl] of E[ssex] his Advice to the E[arl] of R[utland] in his Travels’, ‘A Letter to the same purpose’, etc.). Furthermore in the case of multiple texts within one edition, the edition itself is also given a record, as such works are often well known and important parts of the apodemic tradition (e.g. the Profitable Instructions also has its own record). Extant manuscript copies are treated as separate items, for example the MS original of ‘The Late E[arl] of E[ssex] his Advice to the E[arl] of R[utland] in his Travels’, is also given a separate record as the ‘First Letter of Advice to the Earl of Rutland’ (i.e. the extant MS), and both of these records appear as links in the person record for ‘Robert Devereux’.

Project details and funding

The Art of Travel, 1500-1850 database is part of the Transmission, and Cultural Exchange (TTCE) project hosted at the Moore Institute at the National University of Ireland, Galway (NUI Galway). Early work on the technical development of the TTCE project was carried out by the Digital Humanities Observatory; this also includes our sister project the Ireland Illustrated database (forthcoming). Art of Travel has received funding through PRTLI 4, Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, and the Hakluyt Society.

The core project members are Professor Daniel Carey and Dr Anders Ingram of NUI Galway, Dr Gabor Gelleri of the University of Aberystwyth.

Technical design and development was carried out by:

  • Niall O’Leary - back-end technical development;
  • David Kelly, Moore Institute, NUI Galway - design and front-end development
  • Bruno Voisin, Digital Humanities Observatory - database design

Project Team Profiles

  • Dan Carey

    Prof. Daniel Carey

    Daniel Carey is a Professor of English and Director of the Moore Institute for research in the Humanities and Social Sciences at the National University of Ireland, Galway. A graduate of McGill University, Trinity College Dublin, and Oxford University where he took his D.Phil. His book on Locke, Shaftesbury, and Hutcheson: Contesting Diversity in the Enlightenment and Beyond appeared with Cambridge University Press in 2006. He has published in a range of interdisciplinary journals on literature, the history of philosophy, history of science, anthropology, and travel. His research interests include Richard Hakluyt and early modern travel (including editing of The Principal Navigations for OUP, see Hakluyt.org), the relationship between travel and natural history, intellectual history including Locke, the Scottish Enlightenment and philosophies of human nature, the history and philosophy of money in the Enlightenment.

  • Dr Gábor Gelléri

    Dr Gábor Gelléri

    Dr Gábor Gelléri is Lecturer in French at Aberystwyth University, and co-director of the Aberystwyth-Bangor Institute for Medieval and Early Modern Studies. A graduate of ELTE University (Budapest) and the Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales (Paris), he is a specialist of early modern travel cultures and literatures, particularly for France. His monograph on travels to England from the French-speaking Europe (Philosophies du voyage: visiter l'Angleterre aux 17e-18e siècles) was published by the Voltaire Foundation in 2016. He started working on the field of art of travel as a post-doctoral fellow at the Moore Institute. He is particularly interested in French treatises of the art of travel - he is currently working on a monograph with the working title From Grand Tour to School Trips: Conceptions of Educational Travel in 18th-century France. Another focus of his research is the female participation in the art of travel debate, and he is completing an article on women and the art of travel for the upcoming volume Travel and Conflict in the Renaissance and Early Modern World (Routledge) he co-edits with Dr Rachel WIllie.

  • Dr Anders Ingram

    Dr Anders Ingram

    Anders Ingram is an early modern cultural and intellectual historian based as a research at the National University of Ireland, Galway. A graduate of Aberdeen University he took his PhD from Durham University in 2010. Since then he has been an Irish Research Council Postdoctoral Fellow on the Hakluyt Edition Project (see Hakluyt.org) and a Government of Ireland Postdoctoral Fellow at the National University of Ireland, Galway. His work explores early modern British perceptions of and relationships with the wider world, as well as the transnational movement of ideas, people, and goods. Recent publications include Writing the Ottomans: Turkish History in early modern England (Palgrave Macmillan, 2015) and ‘The Ottoman siege of Vienna (1683), English ballads and the Exclusion Crisis’ in The Historical Journal (2014).

  • Niall O'Leary

    Niall O'Leary

    Niall O'Leary is an IT consultant, developer and trainer working in the Higher Education sector, with particular strengths in Digital Humanities.  A graduate of UCD's Masters in Film Studies programme, Niall began as a scriptwriter in the audiovisual industry. Building on his knowledge of digital media, he graduated from TCD's Masters in Multimedia Systems in 1997. While writing articles on IT, creating online stories and scripting online games, he gradually became more involved in IT development.  In 1998 he became Web Development Specialist at DCU.  While creating many important online university systems, such as student portals and online results, he also taught Web Technologies, Programming, and Screenwriting in DCU's Department of Communications.  In 2010 he became DHO Project manager (IT) at the Digital Humanities Observatory, a project of the Royal Irish Academy. In this role, he managed and developed many cutting edge systems in the Digital Humanities area including St Patrick's Confessio and the Doegen Records Web Archive.  Since 2013 he has worked as a private consultant and developer in the Digital Humanities area.  He writes on many DH topics such as data visualisation and Big Data and maintains a keen interest in teaching and film.

  • David Kelly

    David Kelly

    David Kelly is Digital Humanities Manager for the Moore Institute at NUI Galway. He works with individual researchers and research teams engaged in DH projects. To date, this has included projects involving database development, text or data visualisation, social annotation, digital edition development and network analysis. Prior to joining NUI Galway, David established and ran a web development company, and worked as a researcher in Information Systems at University College Cork.