- Open to the Public
Each of us, our families, our towns, our nations, our media networks, are dream
machines, constantly inventing and maintaining the constructs and illusions that provide hope, meaning and entertainment. Newspaper reports and publicity postcards are puzzle pieces that describe and help explain a collective dream of the early 20th century, also expressed in literature and cinema, that set thousands of people on the road to walk around the world, or at least claim they were doing so. That same dream led enough of those who stayed at home, and observed them in passing, to support them. The postcards with portraits, which passed from the globetrotters to the supporters in exchange for a contribution, were tokens and tickets for the journeys.
Arising in the late 19th century in the wake of Jules Verne's Around the World in 80 Days, the globetrotters, as they were called, circulated until World War I, and then again in even greater numbers in the interwar years until Europe closed down in 1940.
William A Christian Jr., a John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Fellow, is an independent scholar who writes about religion in Spain and Southern Europe. His approach combines insights from history, anthropology and sociology. His studies involve fieldwork in contemporary communities and archival work for earlier periods. He has been particularly interested in the relation of individuals and communities to saints, and lately in the way these relations are reflected in paintings and photographic portraits.
This event is sponsored by the Georges Lurcy Lecture Series Fund at Amherst College.