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Research seminar: «What did readers of travelogues of the XVII century read?»

On October 25, at the session of the scholarly group ‘Languages for Describing the Other in early modern Europe: social contexts and repertoires of interpretation’, Anna Stogova, senior researcher of the Institute of World History of the Russian Academy of Sciences, associate Professor of the Russian State University, made a report "What did readers of travelogues of the XVII century read?". 

The paper was dedicated to readers’ response to the travelogues. Referring to the "Description of a trip to England" by the French skeptic Samuel Sorbière, Anna Stogova demonstrated that the reaction to the publications of travelogues could have been almost immediate if the political situation demanded it and if the travelogue contradicted the discourses that existed in the described society. A polemical response to Sorbière's text from the historiographer of the Royal Society of London, Thomas Sprat, came out in a few months after the publication. Sprat criticizing Sorbière’s ways of describing the English and the English culture, which sharply diverged from the principles promoted by Society. They were interpreted in the context of those discourses and types of texts within the framework of which in England and France of the 1660s the scholar and the object of his consideration were differentiated. Sprat drew attention to the fact that the dominant discourse of barbarism, based on texts written before Sorbière, prevails in the description of the British. Spat was enraged with Sorbière’s and his descriptions of the exotic. After the presentations the participants of the session were able to discuss the sources of Sorbière’s text, the peculiarities of the reception of the work in England and the possibility of this discursive scandal being used as a real "cultural" argument in the Anglo-French diplomacy.