HC221H - Writing the Journey

Professor: Elizabeth Bohls

4.00 credits

CRN 32923: Monday & Wednesday, 12:00-1:20pm @ CHA 201

Travel can be transformative, jolting the traveler out of her comfortable world-view—or it can serve to reaffirm that complacent perspective. It can be difficult and dangerous, true to its roots in the concept of "travail" (labor, toil, hardship, suffering)—or convenient, even luxurious. Before trains, planes, steamships and the Internet, travel and travel writing were important sources of information or knowledge about other cultures and little-known areas of the globe. We read a variety of travel and exploration writing from the sixteenth century to the present day, focusing mostly on the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. At the same time, each student composes and refines his or her own account of a journey of some kind—whether distant and exotic or close to home, undertaken for leisure, education, work, or family necessity. We share and critique these as part of the course. Questions we ask about our own and other authors' travel include: how do the conditions of travel (e.g., working or leisured, voluntary or compulsory) shape the traveler's experience? How do travelers' preconceptions shape their experiences, and under what conditions do these preconceptions get overturned? What rhetorical devices or strategies do travel writers use to represent their encounters with unfamiliar cultures and strange people, and what do these reveal about travelers' deep desires and fears? What is tourism, and how, historically, did it come into being? How do travelers impact their "travelees"—those who inhabit the places they visit or colonize?