Travel writing is both an ancient literary genre and a modern one, stretching from the Biblical Book of Exodus to the present day. In this course you will both study travel writing as a genre and become a travel writer yourself.
We begin by trying to grasp issues of genre: how can travel writing be defined, exactly? Is it an activity for the privileged and the wealthy, rather than the desperate and the refugee? What is a traveller looking for when they set out, and what is she or he trying to tell us? What details of a journey are included, and what is left out? Does a particular traveller prepare for the journey by studying the history, culture, and language of the places to which s/he travels, or just leave home with little preparation in the spirit of adventure, open to what happens?
We will find that our study of travel writing brings up some associated issues, such as matters of ecology and business. How is the environment affected by this new phenomenon of mass travel? What kind of businesses does it generate?
The course should appeal to students from a wide range of backgrounds, with interests ranging from literature and Creative Writing to ecology and business. A consistent emphasis on this course, however, will be on writing; close attention will be paid to all aspects of composition in your essays, with correction and commentary given via Track Changes, plus commentary on literary style. The aim is that you should end the semester with a long essay to be proud of, the fruit of considerable effort on your part.
During Spring break you will travel somewhere, experiencing everything as a travel writer. You need not feel obliged to book an exotic vacation to Cancun; a trip across Walnut bridge to Reading Terminal Market may be just as revealing. For a travel writer, everything that happens can become part of the narrative: cancelled flights, random encounters, "getting lost." After Spring break each student will work on a draft of their personal travel narrative, which will be workshopped in class. We will read other texts, but the perfection of your own account will be the main aim.
Assessment: one short tune up essay, a standard essay or two, and then the longer project, with class participation to include presentation of your draft travel writing.