In pursuit of pleasant places: Dutch travellers in Europe, 1815-1914

Anna P.H. Geurts

Research output: ThesisPhD Thesis - Research external, graduation UT


This thesis forms a transnational history of spatial aspirations, practices, and experiences in Europe in the long nineteenth century. Modernization theorists have claimed that revolutionary shifts regarding people’s relation to place occurred in this period. This claim is examined here through a longitudinal study of egodocuments created by northern-Netherlandish travellers of Europe, comparing the 1820s, the 1860s, and the 1900s. When looking at those spatial qualities that play a central role in these texts, and in many cases also in modernization theory—homeliness, gezelligheid, cleanliness together with order and space, tactile and auditory comfort, and privacy—travellers’ hopes and expectations, their strategies aimed at fulfilling these, and the success with which they did so, in fact show strong continuities across these three decades. Those changes that did take place in people’s spatial satisfaction seem to have had a significant cultural and economic basis, rather than being grounded solely in new technologies, spatial settings, or social and political structures. Moreover, the politics of space were less divisive along gender lines than commonly thought. The same applies to assumed distinctions between ‘middle-class’ domesticity, cleanliness, noise intolerance, privateness, and other sensitivities, and an aristocratic worldliness on the one hand, and a working-class disinterest or desensitization on the other.
Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
Awarding Institution
  • University of Twente
  • Drukker, J.W., Supervisor
Award date12 Dec 2014
Place of PublicationEnschede
Print ISBNs978-90-365-3781-0
Publication statusPublished - 12 Dec 2014


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