Professor Wendy Bracewell
Professor of Southeast European History
020 7679 8756
I work primarily on the social and cultural history of the Balkans, particularly the South Slav lands. I was born in Sydney, Australia, grew up in northern California (where I went to university at Stanford), and have ended up commuting between London and Sheffield. All this moving around may help to explain my research interests in travel and travel writing, and the problems of being and feeling 'national'.
I started out as an early modern historian, working especially on the frontiers between the Habsburg, Venetian and Ottoman empires in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. My main work on this subject was published as The Uskoks of Senj: Piracy, Banditry and Holy War in the Sixteenth-Century Adriatic (Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press, 1992), and looks at the ways one notorious frontier community coped with life in this turbulent environment - and what they thought they were doing when they raided and plundered. (I'm very proud that the Rough Guide to Croatia lists this book as recommended reading for travellers to Dalmatia!) While I've kept up a research interest in this area and period, I've also explored issues in modern history and historiography, particularly connected with nationalism, gender (and especially masculinity, with several publications on the topic, including one on the political uses of ideas of masculinity in "Rape in Kosovo: Masculinity and Serbian Nationalism", Nations and Nationalism 6 (4), 2000).
About ten years ago I started working on travel and travel writing, and I directed a large interdisciplinary project called 'East Looks West' on east European travel writing about Europe, 1550-2000, funded by the AHRC and other funding bodies. (See www.ssees.ucl.ac.uk/eastwest.htm for a summary and other links) This project has explored some of the ways that east Europeans have written about Europe and 'the West' in travel accounts and how, in the process, they have made sense of their own and their societies' place in the world. Together with my colleague Alex Drace-Francis, I've edited a bibliography and a comparative historical introduction to east European travel writing. I then rounded off the series with an anthology of travel accounts of Europe seen from its Eastern margins. A separate volume, also edited with Alex Drace-Francis, focuses on travel writing from the Balkans. My current project is a study of travel polemics: the ways that people -- 'travelees' -- respond to reading foreign travellers' accounts of their societies. I have completed two years on a Leverhulme Major Research Fellowship, working on a book on this subject, but am still collecting material.
Teaching and supervision
In line with my research interests, I've taught several courses on aspects of travel writing, including a BA course on travel writing and ideas of Europe; and MA course on theoretical approaches to the study of travel writing, and also transnational cultural history. I've supervised PhD theses on a range of topics related to my areas of expertise in early modern and modern European history; and I've co-supervised students working on topics in anthropology and sociology (I've found this an excellent way to learn something outside my own discipline). Potential MPhil/PhD students are welcome to get in touch with inquiries about their topics.
Check out the on-line travel collections at the University of Gottingen:
and the University of Michigan (including some by east European authors):
See also the project on Tourism and Leisure in Socialist Yugoslavia at the University of Graz:
This page last modified
Thursday 12 April 2012.