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

Spring 2010

E 392M • Early Modern Travel Narratives

Unique Days Time Location Instructor


Course Description

Meeting time, location: (Official course schedule)

In this course we will study a broad sampling of European travel narratives written between the 15th and 17th centuries. Early modern travel narratives are fascinating historical documents.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 induced by the global redistribution of wealth, and by the increased circulation of material goods, knowledge and ideas, and conflicting beliefs about the world and its diverse peoples. This process of exchange or co-optation greatly accelerated during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, accompanying the rise of what Immanuel Wallerstein has called the Modern World-System.

Members of this course will be encouraged to study these intriguing texts as literary works, as well as historical documents or ethnographies. Travel narratives tell stories, sometimes in highly crafted and rhetorically polished ways. In this course, we will trace the impact of these early modern works on literary history¬óspecifically their relation to the Renaissance genre of romance and to various modern genres, as well, both fictional and non-fictional.

This course is designed with multiple audiences in mind, including students in medieval and Renaissance Studies, American literature, post-colonial and empire studies, and creative writing.


The primary texts for this course will be accompanied by a packet of secondary readings of a literary critical, theoretical, and/or historical nature. For each week, two or three articles or book chapters will be provided as companion readings.

Primary Texts (a number of which will be excerpted):

Columbus, Diary of the First Voyage

Vespucci, The New World; Four Voyages

More, Utopia

Las Casas, A Short Account of the Destruction of the Indies

Léry, History of a Voyage to the Land of Brasil

Linschoten, Travels

Mendes Pinto, Voyages

Fitch, Ralph. The Voyage of Mr. Ralph Fitch, Merchant of London

Raleigh, Discoverie of the Large, Rich, and Bewtiful Empyre of Guiana

Hakluyt, Voyages

Coryate, Greeting from the Court of the Great Mohul

Roe, Embassy to the Court of the Great Mogul

Della Valle, The Travels of Pietro della Valle

Mancall, Travel Narratives from the Age of Discovery: An Anthology

Rushdie, The Enchantress of Florence

Plus a packet of literary critical and historical companion readings


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