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Steven Hoelscher, Chair Burdine 437, Mailcode B7100, Austin, TX 78712 • 512-471-7277

Fall 2008

AMS 391 • Travel Literature

Unique Days Time Location Instructor
30153 TTh
12:30 PM-2:00 PM
CAL 221

Course Description

In this course, we shall study the written narrative of travel in its various generic forms, the travel poem, the essay, the novel, the letter, the diary, the adventure narrative, the narrative of self-discovery, the artistic expression of encounter with the Other and the Past, the pilgrimage [sacred travel] and the shipwreck narrative. We shall also concentrate on certain preferred locations such as Japan, China,, the Near East, and the United States. The texts chosen are intended as examples of finished efforts with the intention of producing esthetic satisfaction in the reading, information, adventure and an invitation to travel. We shall read selections of some of the classic examples of travel literature but the course will concentrate mainly on twentieth century texts. The course will seek to define the generic terminology of travel literature, its parameters and limitations. We shall also interpret the role of narrator and the narratee, the function of the Other and the performance of Otherness, the centrality of its discourses overt and covert i.e., colonial and Post-Colonial discourse, etc. Emphasis will be placed on the role of description and its relation to themes, psychology, the creation of the exotic, the role of style. Questions to be tested: why travel literature, why its popularity today, the role of the reader, the identity of the author and relationship to both the Other and intended audience, the evolution of Travel literature, its contemporary definition as opposed to earlier prescriptions, etc. In short, what is the Art of Travel and why the need to turn travel into narrative and its import today.


The majority of the texts will be chosen from 20th century writings: from the English, French, American, Chinese, & Japanese. Classics: Selections from Pausanius, Strabo, Marco Polo, Ibn Battuta Pilgrimages: Ennin, Sei Shonagon, Ibn Jubayr Travelers to America: Baudrillard, Amérique; Bernard Henri Lévy, American Vertigo; Edmund White, State of Desire, Ilf & Petrov, Travels in America; Jan Morris, Manhattan '45 Classic 20th Century Women Travelers: Ella Maillart, Oasis Interdites; Freya Stark, Valley of the Assassins Travels to India: selections, Naipaul, Theroux, Michaux "Barbare en Asie" 20th Century Travel Adventurers: Femor, A Time of Gifts; Chatwin, In Patagonia In Japan: Bouvier, Chroniques japonnaises; Basho, Journey to the North; Izoyai Nikki, Michaux, A Barbarian in Asie [Un barbare en Asie] Shipwreck narratives: The wreck of the Méduse, the Grosvenor; Ch'oe Pu's Diary of Drifting Across the Sea Indigenous Chinese Travel writings. Selections: Hsu Hsia-k'o, Li Tao-yuan, Su Shih [Red Cliffs], Fang Chengda, Lu You, Xu Xiake, Chang Tai, etc.


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