British travellers and the rediscovery of Sicily
: 16th-19th century

  • Lydia Davis

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis

Abstract

This project deals with the early period of what could be termed the 'Grand Tour' in Sicily, a subject which has previously been covered only in a small number of academic works. In particular, it looks at the history of British travel and travellers to Sicily, placing particular emphasis on the way in which classical considerations prompted, guided and inspired visitors to the island. Whilst covering a wide time span which ranges from the 8th until the 20th century AD, the main body of the work focuses on the period between 1550 and 1770 and provides a study of the major British travellers to Sicily during this period - most particularly the journeys of Thomas Hoby in the 16th century, George Sandys and Isaac Basire in the 17th and John Breval in the early 18th century. It also looks at the cultural construction of Sicily itself during this period, and the major Latin and Italian historical sources which influenced, and in some cases were influenced by, travellers and writers from Britain. Much of this work involves the in-depth analysis of several of the major geographical and antiquarian texts from the 16th, 17th and early 18th centuries both in English and Italian. The results suggest that rather than the more traditional view of Sicily as a late addition to the Grand Tour, relatively undiscovered until the 1770s, the island had in fact generated a significant amount of interest from numerous erudite British travellers and antiquarians, who made a small but nevertheless important contribution to the body of work written upon the island and its culture and antiquities.
Date of Award2006
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Nottingham Trent University

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