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Martin Kevorkian, Chair CAL 226, Mailcode B5000, Austin, TX 78712 • 512-471-4991

Spring 2010

E 379S • Senior Seminar—Renaissance Travel Narratives-W

Unique Days Time Location Instructor
35165 MW
3:30 PM-5:00 PM
MEZ 2.210

Course Description

Early modern travel narratives are fascinating historical documents. They offer a wide array of perspectives on early modern colonialism; on national, ethnic, religious, and cultural differences; and on the global economy that developed during that era. Together they help the contemporary reader understand how the creative phenomenon called the Renaissance was partly the effect of a global redistribution of wealth produced by early modern colonialism. The increased circulation of material goods, knowledge and ideas, together with conflicting beliefs about the world and its diverse peoples, also had a profound impact on European cultures, as well as cultures around the world. In this senior seminar we will study a broad sampling of European travel narratives written between the 15th and 17th centuries. These travel narratives tell remarkable stories, sometimes in highly crafted and rhetorically polished ways. Members of this course will be encouraged to study these intriguing texts as literary works, as well as historical documents and/or ethnographies. In this course, we will explore the impact of these early modern works on literary history—specifically their relation to the Renaissance genre of romance and to various modern genres, as well—both fictional and non-fictional.

Students in this course will also be asked to write a 1-2 page response paper, a 5-6 page interpretive essay and a 10-12-page research paper. They will also be encouraged to make use of the extensive collections of early modern books at the HRC and Benson libraries.

Grading Policy

-2 page response paper, 5%; 4-5 page essay, 15%; 1st peer review, 10%; Research paper, 30%; 2nd peer review, 10%; 1st exam, 15%; 2nd exam, 15%.


Columbus, Diary of the First Voyage; Vespucci, The New World; Four Voyages; Leo Africanus, A Geographical History of Africa; More, Utopia; Cabeza de Vaca, Relation; Léry, History of a Voyage to the Land of Brasil; Mendes Pinto, Voyages; Raleigh, Discoverie of the Large, Rich, and Bewtiful Empyre of Guiana; Hakluyt, Voyages (excerpts); Della Valle, The Travels of Pietro della Valle; Shakespeare, The Tempest; Plus a packet of literary critical and historical companion readings.


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