In this hands-on course, students will become familiar with the genre of travel writing through readings on the history, politics and economics of place, and how these influence culture. Students will gain an understanding of themselves vis a vis the Other and develop an appreciation of how travel can transform the self. They will learn how to respond critically to travel narratives, identify credible sources to inform their writing, and make original observations. While in port, class field trips and students’ own personal travel will provide a rich source of primary information. In small groups, students will workshop their essays, learn to critique others’ writing, and gain an understanding of how to apply these kinds of critiques to their own writing.
Field ClassCountry: Morocco
Date: October 16, 2019
With travel writer Tahir Shah’s short travel piece, “Morocco’s Pirate Realm” (Chapter 30 from Travels with Me: Collected Works, Mosaique Books) in hand, we will follow in his footsteps as Shah and his daughter go in search of the best known Barbary pirate Jan Janszoon van Haarlem, also known as Murat Reis the Younger’s home in the old coastal city of Sale. This field trip takes place in three parts. Firstly, we travel north from Casablanca past Rabat to its’ twin city of Sale, formerly the haven for the notorious and much feared Barbary pirates also known as the Sale Rovers, beginning in the 17th century. As a warm-up, we will visit El Bourg Addomoue –the pirate’s castle – that was built about 1260. It would have been in use during the heyday of the Sale Rovers and Jan Janszoon van Haarlem. Secondly, we will visit the Sale Medersa (mosque school) that is open to non-Muslims while the Grand Mosque is not. The Grand Mosque and Medersa were built in 1333 by Sultan Abou al-Hassan Ali. Again both would have been around at the same time when the Sale Rovers thrived in the area. Perhaps some of them worshiped at this mosque.
Finally, we will head to Sale’s old medina in the footsteps of Tahir Shah. We will go through the Malka Gate, past the 12th century Almohad style mosque to the Souq el Gazelle (the Wool Market) toward the Mellah, the old Jewish quarter where Shah and his daughter found the building where Janszoon reportedly lived up to 1641 when written accounts of his whereabouts end. Along the way, we will stop to write on-site in response to prompts I will hand out.
1. To understand how audience and purpose inform travel writing in terms of genre, tone and language.
2. To identify and record credible primary source material while on-site.
3. To make original and insightful observations based on our field trip experience.