Studies in Travel Writing
Itís a simple enough concept: a person goes from one place to another and writes about the experience. Indeed, travel writing seems to be everywhere, ranging from the epic journeys of classical literature to the travel section of your local Sunday paper. At the same time, travel writing remains a complex, even controversial genre, one central to critical debates about colonialism, globalization, and the environment. Focusing on a diverse range of first-person, non-fiction travel narratives, this course will explore the unique role travel writing has played in the formation of ideas about modern individual and cultural identity. Primary readings for the course are organized into three major sub-units intended to develop specific regional and historical contexts for interpretation: 1) Nineteenth-century British travelers in the United States; 2) Colonial and postcolonial encounters in the Middle East and India; and 3) contemporary travel writing and the popular culture of tourism. Some of the broader questions that will inform our analysis include: What motivates one to travel in the first place? What is worth seeing? How do travelers seek to authorize or authenticate their accounts? How does travel both define and disrupt national identity? Does travel writing tend to challenge or merely confirm stereotypes about gender, race, and culture?
CTo develop specific strategies for interpreting non-fiction travel writing, an unfamiliar genre to many students of literature.
CTo initiate class discussion, group work, and in-class assignments that actively engage students in learning.
CTo develop studentsí writing skills with response papers and longer essays that call on them to interpret and analyze course readings.
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