Romantic Travel: Writing Germany and ‘the North’ – A workshop on European cultural transfer around 1800

The French revolutionary wars that broke out in 1793 hastened the end of the traditional Grand Tour of Europe, which had Italy and ‘the South’ as its centerpiece. Destinations shifted: Hamburg, for instance, became a new gateway for British writers to reach the European Continent.

Journeying styles had already changed: Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s radical pedestrianism and Laurence Sterne’s ‘sentimental’ travel had left their mark. Travel accounts increasingly featured ‘the North’, especially Germany and the Scandinavian countries. Among the many motivations for this interest were a spirit of aesthetic primitivism as well as inquisitiveness about philosophical and other intellectual developments in Germany. In the process, travel writers and others debated questions of national character, cosmopolitanism, nationalism, and the connections of commercial society with empire and slavery. Energized by translations, the book trade flourished across borders.

The workshop investigates some of these controversies and themes. James Vigus is currently undertaking the research project Romantic Hamburg.


  • Annika Bärwald, Doctoral Candidate, Early Modern History, Bremen University
  • Ute Berns, Professor for British Studies, Universität Hamburg
  • Emma Clery, Professor in English Literature, Uppsala University
  • Cian Duffy, Professor in English Literature, Lund University
  • Lis Møller, Professor of Comparative Literature, Aarhus University
  • Robert Rix, Associate Professor in English, Germanic and Romance Studies, University of Copenhagen
  • James Vigus, Senior Lecturer in English at Queen Mary University of London and Universität Hamburg Fellow 2021/2022 at HIAS
  • Maximiliaan van Woudenberg, Professor of English and Communications in the Faculty of Humanities at Sheridan Institute of Technology


9.25 a.m.         Welcome James Vigus

9.30 a.m.         Cian Duffy ‘Feldborg the Dane and the Great Belzoni’: some Romantic views of the Danish national character.

10.10 a.m.         Lis Møller Ballads across borders

10.50 a.m.       Coffee Break

11.10 a.m.          Annika Bärwald ‘Exotic’ Entertainment: Romantic Hamburg and Its Domestic Workers and Entertainers of non-European Descent

11.50 a.m.         James Vigus ‘The emporium of the world’: 1790s Hamburg Observed

12.30 p.m.       Lunch

2.00 p.m.         Robert Rix The Tavern of the Muses’: Hamburg in Jens Baggesen’s The Labyrinth

2.40 p.m.         Maximiliaan van Woudenberg The German Travel Journals of Charles Parry

3.20 p.m.         Coffee Break

Public online session:

3.45 p.m.         Emma Clery Mary Wollstonecraft in ‘the whirlpool of gain’

4.25 p.m.         Concluding Discussion

5.15 p.m.          End of Workshop Program


Romantic Travel_Writing Germany and the North_Abstracts

The discussion will take place in English.