Interdisciplinary Research Group on Travel

For information, please email the Faculty lead: Dr. Steven Muir or visit his page

Travel — “movement between two or more points”

Focus and mandate of the group

We are a group of scholars united in exploring issues related to travel.  We understand “travel” to have many dimensions.  For example, not only people but ideas and movements can travel.  Travel has personal and social aspects: it can be a process of self-discovery as one also encounters and learns about other places, people and circumstances.  Travel involves physical movement but may also deal with conceptual or imaginative journeying.

As an academic group, we gather regularly to share the results of our research.  We learn from each other and collaborate on projects.  Because the members of the group represent many fields and disciplines, we bring a diversity of approaches and topics to the table.

 Key processes

  • Connecting, communicating
  • Representing, mediating
  • Encountering, experiencing
  • Adapting, changing, transforming
  • Discovering, learning

For some interesting quotes related to this type of research, see here.

For some interesting images related to the themes of this research, see here.

Group members (click here for further information)

  • Steven Muir – Religious Studies & Classics
  • Manfred Zeuch – Vice-President International and Research
  • Tim Loreman – Vice-President Academic and Provost
  • Elizabeth Smythe – Political Science
  • Tolly Bradford – History
  • Linda Van Netten Blimke, Katherine Miller, Jasmina Odor, Marco LoVerso – English
  • Mark Loo – Business
  • Xin Chen – Biology & Environmental Science
  • Dorothy Steffler, Wendy Pullin – Psychology
  • Zoltan Berkes – Physics
  • Edgar Schmidt – Education
  • Lisa Micheelsen – Classics
  • Dan Mirau – Library
  • Veronica Miller – Modern Languages

Friends of the Group

  • Xinxin Fang, Director CUE Centre for Chinese Studies
  • Christine Baghdady – Sociology, Political Science (The Kings University, Edmonton)
  • Robyn Hall – Library, Social Anthropology (MacEwan University, Edmonton)
  • Lainna El Jabi, Research Facilitator (MacEwan University, Edmonton)
  • Marina Hutton, (University of Victoria)
  • Catherine Caufield – Religious Studies, Sociology (Athabasca University, Alberta)
  • Janet Tulloch – Religious Studies, Classics (Carleton University, Ontario)
  • Michel Desjardins – Religious Studies, Pedagogy (Wilfrid Laurier University, Ontario)
  • Katherine Nielsen – Anthropology, Education (Centre for International Education, University of Sussex, UK)
  • Olga Jarman – Religious Studies, Ancient Medicine (St. Petersburg, Russia, Saint-Petersburg State Pediatric Medical University)
  • Nicola Hayward – Religious Studies (McGill University, Quebec)
  • Erin Vearncombe – Religious Studies (Princeton University, NY)
  • Jason Lamoreaux – independent scholar (Texas)
  • Nanna Natalia Karpinska Dam Jørgensen – Independent scholar (Norway)
  • Emma Rochester (Queensland College of Art, Griffith University)
  • Rupa Pillai (University of Oregon)
  • Anne Read, Sociology (University of Waterloo)

migration meditation tourism Jung pilgrimage diaspora myth Bildungsroman colonialism narration teleology trends ethnicity mobility Odysseus homeland mysticism anti-structure Heilsgeschichte advertising identity nationalism Freud imperialism assimilation McLuhan trek retreats borders Turner adventure Theseus invasion exploration quests transculturation liminality contact-zone Campbell spirituality network access refugee self-discovery

Upcoming events

Thursday March 2.  12:30-1:30 room T105. “Travel Writing and Cross-cultural Understanding.”  Dr. Leilei Chen.

The book Re-Orienting China: Travel Writing and Cross-cultural Understanding features two Canadian and four American travel writers examining post-1949 China.  Re-Orienting China: Travel Writing and Cross-cultural Understanding contributes to the study of travel literature by going beyond the genre’s imperialist implications. Chen’s extensive archival research on travel narratives about contemporary China leads her to examine those works that have not yet caught adequate scholarly attention. With a close reading of Jan Wong, Jock T. Wilson, Peter Hessler, Leslie T. Chang, Hill Gates, and Yi-Fu Tuan, her book addresses the urgency of understanding travel writing as a genre of cultural translation and of transformation that results from interacting with Chinese otherness. In addition to the moments of separation the genre conventionally represents in various forms between home and abroad, and between self and other; the book looks for connections and commonalities the travellers envisioned in the foreign country. It shows that cultural difference does not simply separate the self from the other. Despite its nature as a barrier, difference may engender a genuine interest in the other and may catalyse a rediscovery of the self in relation to the other and, possibly, meaningful exchanges between China and the travellers’ home countries. In the context of today’s globalized world where communication across ethnic and cultural borders becomes a daily necessity, Chen’s book imagines the hope of a productive communication with otherness and the possibility of an equilibrium relationship across borders

Dr. Leilei Chen teaches English literature and Writing Studies courses at the University of Alberta and MacEwan University. She worked at the Writing Centre and taught both junior and senior English courses at Concordia University of Edmonton from 2013 to 2015. She writes nonfiction and has published in the fields of travel writing studies, Canadian literature, Asian American literature, and Victorian literature. Her Chinese translation of Steven Grosby’s Nationalism: A Very Short Introduction (Oxford University Press) is coming out from China’s Yilin Press (南京译林出版社). She was a professor of English at Jinan University, Guangzhou, before moving to Canada.

Wednesday, March 8, 12-1:00 pm.  HA 343.  “Trauma, Failure and Deception: the Path of Foreign Women in Metropolitan France (18th-20th century)”    Dr. Joanna Merkel, Assistant Professor of French, CUE.  Co-hosted with Focus on Women group.

Joanna Merkel holds a PhD in French and Francophone studies from the University of Tennessee at Knoxville and she will be talking about the figure of double alterity represented by foreign women in Metropolitan France, from the 18th to the 20th century. During this time, France went through major historical, political and socio-economic changes that directly impacted the way French people looked at these figures and perceived them. She will focus this talk on several female foreigners, such as the Queen Marie Antoinette, as well as authors who created fictive stories and finally authors who went through being foreigners and related their experiences in autobiographies. She will show how they went through a common path of trauma, failure and deception while in France.

Past events:

November 19, 2014. Dr. Steven Muir (Religious Studies), “Religion on the Road in ancient Greece and Rome.”

December 8, 2014.  Wine and Cheese term-end event.  The festivities included readings by members of the English Department.

February 12, 2015.  Dr. Mark Loo (Management), “What conferences can do for you: Engaging global cultures, enriching life-long learning and creating unforgettable experiences.”

February 25, 2015.  Dr. Linda Van Netten Blimke (English), “ ‘A Quiet Journey of the Heart’: The Rise of the Sentimental Traveler and Women’s Travel Writing in 18th century Britain.”

April 2015.  An afternoon term-end event, similar to what we had in December.  Co-hosted by the staff of our Library, with readings, displays, and refreshments!

September 2015.   Dr. Elizabeth Smythe (Political Science) “The World Social Forum:  A Pilgrimage for Global Justice.”

October 2015.   Robyn Hall (Scholarly Communications Librarian, MacEwan University) and Dan Mirau (CUE, Library), “Knowledge without borders: the open access movement’s impact on the flow of information.”

November 2015.  Co-hosted with Focus on Women Research Group (CUE).  “Pilgrimage as Movement Towards an Ideal:  Tales of French Feminists.” Dr. Wendy Pullin (Psychology, CUE)

December 2015.  Christmas / term-end event.  Festivities, food, readings.

January 2016.   “Travel, learning adventures, and making a difference” – Marina Hutton, former student at Concordia

March 2016.  “Purposeful wanderings on the path of becoming: An artist’s exploration of moving towards wholeness in gendered landscapes.”  Emma Rochester (PhD candidate, Griffith University Australia and current artist in residence, Banff Arts Centre).

March 2016.  “Peregrinatio and Immrama: tales of Irish pilgrimage and wandering.”  Katherine Nielsen, Associate Researcher, Centre for International Education, University of Sussex.

April 5.  “Odysseus, foreign lands, and the inspiration to Anthropology in Enlightenment Canada,” Dr. Kevin Solez, MacEwan University

April 12.  “Herod the Great: The Greatest Builder in the History of the Holy Land,” Dr. Larry Herr (Burman University).  Co-hosted with CUE Institute of Christian Studies and Society.

September 19, 2016.  “An Examination of Pedometer Use and Physical Activity Levels of Faculty, Staff, and Students in an Academic Institution.”  CUE Research Team: Brent Bradford, Adam Howorko, Erinn Jacula, Shaelyn Hunt, Nicole Correia

October 26.  “Take a Trip with Swedenborg and Blake.”  Rev. David J. Fekete, Ph.D.  (Co-hosted with CUE Institute of Christian Studies and Society)

November 16 Emma Rochester, Ph.D. candidate, Queensland College of Art, Griffith University (Australia).  “Pathways travelled by a woman artist-scholar.  ”Ms. Rochester will reflect on the many travels, opportunities, challenges, and insights she has had in artistic and academic career to date.

December 5  “Reflections by a Concordia Student: The 2016 Youth Global Humanitarianism and Participation Seminar in Taipei, Taiwan,” Kelsea Gillespie.


Monday January 30,  “Satsang (congregational worship) in Migration.”  Rupa Pillai, Doctoral Candidate, Anthropology University of Oregon

Monday February 6. “When did the North become the South?  Reflections on the 2016 World Social Forum in Montreal”  Elizabeth Smythe, CUE.

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