Els Jongeneel, born in The Hague, the Netherlands, in 1953. Ph.D. from Leiden University. Associate Professor at the Department of Comparative Literature and Modern Italian Literature, University of Groningen.
Fellow (1 September 2001 – 30 June 2002)
During my ten-month stay at NIAS, I started a new research project on twentieth-century travel literature. Although I have research experience in the field of an affiliated literary ego-document, modern autobiography, for me the travel-diary was a new and relatively unknown object of research. Its anthropological thematics, its hybrid theoretical position, on the borderline between fiction and non-fiction, its rhetorical idiosyncrasies (indexical notation instead of narrative representation, temporal perspective of the present) demand an approach that differs from that of ‘ordinary’ fiction. I choose Gide’s Travels in the Congo (1928) as a starting point. Because of the social and political preoccupations that Gide intertwines with his aesthetics here, the Congo-diary is an important document in French colonial history. As a form of literary expression too it is of great importance, because it refers to a capital shift that was taking place in twentieth-century culture, the shift from essentialist to ‘existential’ thinking.
The outcome of this research project was a 30-page article I wrote on Gide’s travel-diary, which will be published this year. I will use the data I gathered during my NIAS stay for a bookpublication on the twentieth-century travel-diary.