Are We There Yet?

Virtual Travel and Victorian Realism
Alison Byerly
An unusual approach to the Victorian phenomenon of virtual travel and realism through the lens of contemporary conceptualizations of media and its effects


Are We There Yet? Virtual Travel and Victorian Realism connects the Victorian fascination with "virtual travel" with the rise of realism in nineteenth-century fiction and twenty-first-century experiments in virtual reality. Even as the expansion of river and railway networks in the nineteenth century made travel easier than ever before, staying at home and fantasizing about travel turned into a favorite pastime. New ways of representing place—360-degree panoramas, foldout river maps, exhaustive railway guides—offered themselves as substitutes for actual travel. Thinking of these representations as a form of "virtual travel" reveals a surprising continuity between the Victorian fascination with imaginative dislocation and twenty-first -century efforts to use digital technology to expand the physical boundaries of the self.

Cover illustration: "The Queen's Return from the Highlands: Her Majesty Crossing Tay Bridge, Dundee, "Illustrated London News, 1879. Reprinted courtesy of the Mary Evans Picture Library. Collaged with 19th century printing of an airship.

Alison Byerly is President of Lafayette College.

Praise / Awards

  • "Byerly is chock-full of new materials brought into view through a fresh perspective straightforwardly grounded in the network-computer concerns of our present. It feels both intuitively right and brilliant."
    —Jonathan H. Grossman, University of California, Los Angeles

  • "If the 'idea of narrative as a kind of journey is as old as literature,' Alison Byerly attends to this intuitive truth in fresh ways, marking a departure from studies which take the process of 'getting there' for granted."
    Times Literary Supplement
  • “Byerly’s study is ambitious, original, and insightful…and it is testament to its stimulating thesis and rich cultural and historical scope that it deserves to be taken up, elaborated, and questioned by scholars from within nineteenth-century literary studies and well beyond.”
    Nineteenth-Century Literature
  • Are We There Yet? helps us to imagine some of the destinations we could reach by aligning old literary problems with new contexts as well as with our own new media forms.”
    —Studies in the Novel
  • "Are We There Yet? marshals an impressive mixture of media history, narrative theory, and phenomenology-of-reading in order to defamiliarize our sense of what Victorian novels were attempting to do."
    --Victorian Studies

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Product Details

  • 6 x 9.
  • 264pp.
  • 8 B&W illustrations.
Available for sale worldwide

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  • Hardcover
  • 2012
  • Available
  • 978-0-472-07186-9

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  • $88.00 U.S.

  • Paper
  • 2012
  • Available
  • 978-0-472-05186-1

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  • $36.95 U.S.

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  • Victorian realism, virtual tavel, victorian fiction, 19th century British literature, media history, networks, cyberspace, video games, panoramas, railroad timetables, travel writing, visual culture, armchair travel