Theorising comment books as historical sources: towards a performative and interpretive framework

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This article theorises historical comment books and related travel-writing sources. It offers a conceptual framework for reading disparate sources produced by travellers and tourists during and as part of travel and visitation. An interdisciplinary framework is promoted, conjoining travel and tourism studies, medium theory, communication sensibilities, and anthropology of writing. By attuning to the practices, materialities, and mobilities that comment books generate and embody, this study details six analytical hypotheses. These hypotheses address the indexical value of comment books as on-site media, their institutional nature, the heterogeneous literacies, narratives, and chronotopes performed in and through them, and the texts’ addressivities. The article seeks to illuminate the richness, complexity, and significance of these sources, and of the travel practices they stimulate. More than records or capsules of historical voices and discourses, as travel-writing artefacts comment books are stimulating to “think with” about the historical, sociocultural, and political processes they index.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)235-255
Number of pages21
JournalStudies in Travel Writing
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2021


  • Travel writing
  • indexicality
  • materialities
  • media
  • mobilities
  • writing practices

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Literature and Literary Theory


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