Monday, March 21 – Tuesday, March 22
On March 21, with the help of our host, University of Toronto Libraries, we presented the second lecture in our 3-part Travel Lecture Series: The Journey is my Home: Early Travel Writing in Canada and Japan.
Professor Suzanne Bailey (Trent University), whose enthusiasm for her subject was absolutely contagious, spoke about the developments and differences in the styles of Canada’s most famous travel writing sisters: Susanna Moodie and Catherine Parr Traill. She explained the extent to which they projected Canada for those in their English homeland through writings as well as paintings. Professor Bailey gave a clear picture of the differences in the sisters’ perspectives, showing how each filtered the Canadian landscape through their distinct and contrasting inner lenses.
Professor Kendra Strand (St. Olaf College) enlightened us on the often unacknowledged debt that the 17th-century Japanese poet Matsuo Basho owes to the diaries of medieval itinerant monks such as Sōkyū and Saigyō, showing the extent to which Basho’s journey emulated those made by his predecessors hundreds of years earlier. Professor Strand also introduced us to the Edo period travel-themed sugoroku board game craze, in which those who couldn’t physically travel could still figuratively join the ranks of the travelling poets. Perhaps sugoroku will be the next sudoku.
On March 22, Professor Bailey was the gracious host when Professor Strand delivered her talk at Trent University, and was treated to a tour of the architecturally impressive campus and even a visit to the grave of Catherine Parr Traill, which was fittingly picturesque with the light snowfall.