Special Topics in English: Travel Literature
We all yearn to travel. But why? Where does this impulse to move from one geographic location to another come from? During this semester, we will investigate this question by reading a number of different written texts: travelogues, poetry, essays, short fiction, novels and travel guides. We will also look carefully at other cultural artifacts, including one film, a host of images, and a digital archive of materials chronicling the rise of mass tourism.
We want to push far beyond our commonplace understanding of travel to probe the nuances of travel and the implications of all kinds of travel. We will cast our net wide across different parts of the globe, cover different forms of transportation, discuss many categories of travelers, and examine travel across time from the beginnings of global sea exploration in the name of commerce and colonization to the present day moment where travel seems ubiquitous and available to all. What does it mean, what can it mean, what has it meant, to travel? To try and answer these questions, we will engage with the course materials through weekly online discussion and other projects, and each student in this course will have multiple opportunities to focus some of their work on subjects of particular interest to them. The metaphor of travel is everywhere, and so, in that spirit, we begin our journey.