Artists have represented travel using a variety of approaches, employing both text and image.  From a daily commute to an elaborate map of the cosmos, travel narratives can reflect a profound experience, revealing just as much about the traveler himself as about the new lands.


Registrum Huius Operis Libri Cronicarum

Registrum Huius Operis Libri Cronicarum
The Nuremberg Chronicle
(Nuremberg: Anton Koberger. 1493)
Author: Hartmann Schedel
Sevier Collection, CE57 .S3 1493
Vanderbilt University Special Collections

This illustrated book was published in 1493 in Nuremberg, Germany in both Latin and German. Publisher Anton Koberger utilized a network of associates all across Europe, from Buda as far as Florence, in order to print and distribute this book. The book was a groundbreaking chronicle of world history, told from the perspective of European Christians. The Nuremberg Chronicle offers up an encyclopedic understanding of world history and geography. It was published the year Columbus returned from his first voyage to the New World, and reflects the still limited understanding of the world at that time. Alongside illustrations of European cities sit extensive illustrations and descriptions of biblical events and landscapes. The world map displayed is based on geographer Claudius Ptolemy's work. To the left of the map lie seven drawings of monsters that were thought to inhabit far-away parts of the Earth.


Self-Dual (how to walk a 30,000 mile tightrope)

(Starkville, MS: Crooked Letter Press. 2005)
Author: Ellen Knudson
Southern Civilization Collection, N7433.4 .K6258 S45 2005
Vanderbilt University Special Collections

The book is a reflection on the author's two years commuting back-and-forth from her home in Starkville, Mississippi, to Masters of Fine Arts classes at the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. Two books are bound together in dos-à-dos (back-to-back) binding, reflecting the dual nature of her life at the time. The book is printed using paper made out of cotton rag from the author's family's clothes. Self-Dual includes visual and textual vignettes from the daily journey. The illustrations are inspired by the landscape along her route from Starkville to Tuscaloosa and back, and they are made using linoleum reduction, the progressive shaving and printing from a single block of linoleum.  The textual vignettes describe Knudson's thoughts during her commute, worries about leaving her family behind, and reflections on her life.


Voyage(r): [Tourist Map to Japan]

Voyage(r): [Tourist Map to Japan]
(Atlanta, GA: Nexus Press. 2000)
Author: Clarissa  T. Sligh
Southern Civilization Collection, N7433.4 .S58 T68 2000
Vanderbilt University Special Collections

Clarissa Sligh, an African-American artist based in North Carolina, reflects on a trip to Japan through her book Voyage(r). Using photographs, prose, poetic musings, and abstract paintings, the author ponders her journey. Specifically as a Black American, the author reflects on her relationship to Japanese culture and her sense of place in Japan. The author remarks, "I had never felt more foreign but at the same time I never felt safer." As she travels through Hiroshima, the author meditates on the circumstances and aftermath of the dropping of the atomic bomb on that city during World War II, a topic that resonates deeply with Sligh, and is explored in some of her other works.

A thonnau gwyllt y Mor
(Wales: Red Hen Press. 2011)
Author: Shirley Jones
Sevier Collection, N7433.4 .J66 T49 2011
Vanderbilt University Special Collections

The book consists of an introductory essay, three aquatint and two mezzotint prints, and text printed on tissue paper. The aquatint and mezzotint prints in the book, often enriched with overlays, depict the coast and islands of Wales. The aquatint printing process involves exposing a copper plate to acid; different tones are achieved by exposing the plate to acid for different amounts of time. Aquatint prints often resemble watercolor paintings. The mezzotint process works by using a scraper to smooth a rough copper plate, creating lighter tones. Both methods of printing result in subtle changes in tone. Born in the Rhondda Valley of Wales, author Shirley Jones has a deep connection to the Welsh landscape, and the overlaid poetic texts throughout the book reveal her affection for her homeland.


Celestial Hitchhikers

Celestial Hitchhikers
(Orlando, FL: Hoopsnake Press. 2005)
Author: Ke Francis
Sevier Collection, N7433.4 .F695 C45 2005
Vanderbilt University Special Collections

The book discusses both the dark reality and the idealized image of hitchhiking by juxtaposing strong imagery, overlays, notes, and quotations. Celestial Hitchhikers is heavily inspired by Beat author Jack Kerouac, who travelled the U.S. extensively and was well known for hitchhiking.Ke Francis’s book includes 8 digital transparencies, 8 woodcuts, a short story, a hand drawn/printed lithograph portrait of Jack Kerouac, and a fold-out of US maps with roads that spell out his name.