HC 221H: Writing the Journey: Studying and Practicing Travel Writing

Professor: Liz Bohls

4.00 credits

• CRN 13078: Tuesday & Thursday, 1215-1345 @ ALL 101

Since remote antiquity, for a wide variety of reasons, people have left home and hit the road. Journeys have always been a part of life, and travel writing has a long and varied history as a literary genre. Travel can be transformative, jolting the traveler out of her comfortable world-view—or it can reaffirm that complacency. It can be difficult and dangerous, or convenient, even luxurious. Before trains, planes, 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 will read a wide range of travel accounts, including exploration and colonization; pilgrimages; tourism; and journeys of self-discovery (which almost all journeys are, in some way). As we meet a variety of travelers—from a medieval mystic to a Spanish conquistador and a Black Muslim revolutionary—we’ll ask what shared features define travel writing as a genre, how it developed over the centuries, and how it intersects with other literary genres, such as autobiography. As a final project, students have the option to compose their own account of a journey—distant and exotic or close to home; undertaken for leisure, education, work, or family necessity. 


Alain de Botton, The Art of Travel (Vintage)

Patrick Leigh Fermor, A Time of Gifts (New York Review Books)

Cheryl Strayed, Wild (Vintage)

Cabeza de Vaca, Relacion, trans. Martin A. Favata and José B. Fernández (Arte Publico)

Additional readings posted on Canvas.