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Exploring the Italian 'Grand Tour' through collaborative research with the British Library

Posted on 03/03/2017
Nolli Piranesi 1748 La topografia di Roma

Nolli (map) & Piranesi (engraved images) 1748 La topografia di Roma

Department of Geography PhD student Jeremy Brown is using the King George III’s Topographical Collection in the British Library to explore tourism and the movement of people during the Italian ‘Grand Tour’ from the sixteenth to the early nineteenth centuries. His research treats maps as scientific but also culturally significant objects, analysing their impact in shaping British travellers’ geographical imaginations of Italy and conceptions of the Classical past. This project will help to re-catalogue the Italian section of the King’s Topographical Collection, opening up these rich resources for future researchers. You can find out more about Jeremy's research through this video.

Jeremy's research is funded through an Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) Collaborative Doctoral Award with the British Library as part of the AHRC's Collaborative Doctoral Partnerships scheme. One of the most original aspects of this collaborative project lies in its approach to maps. The maps in the collection are not simply studied as scientific documents and graphic representations, but also as material objects with their own stories of production, patronage, and reception. The project is significant because it uncovers new and exciting materials along with their forgotten tales, while also shedding new light on the biography of the collection as a whole and, more broadly, on Enlightenment collecting practices. This is made possible through systematic day-to-day physical engagement with the collection, which is a hallmark of collaborative studentships for which the RHUL Geography Department has a very strong reputation. Besides the British Library, our current and past partners in the field of museums and collections, include the Victoria & Albert Museum, the Wellcome Foundation, the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, the National Maritime Museum, the Science Museum, the Museum of London and the Royal Geographical Society.


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