In this course we will examine various types of travel writing, both classic and contemporary, and the way in which writers interact with and engage with the places they visit. Students will keep an informal, daily travel journal as well as write two formal essays about a particular place.
Pico Iyer has famously described travel writing as love story: He describes the way he, after a trip, would lie in his bed and play back his travel memories, looking through photos and reading diary entries: “Anyone witnessing this strange scene,” he writes, “would have drawn the right conclusion: I was in love.” We will examine the ways in which travel writing is a sort of love story. But whether the story is happy or tragic, wistful or comedic, all involve some sort of search, journey, or quest and both an emotional and physical distance traveled. Just like being in love: after, we are never the same. We will examine the ways in which travel writing—both of published authors and the writing we will produce in this course—is also often prone to nostalgic impulse, the romantic foreign gaze, and, as is often the case with more contemporary writers, an acute self-awareness about this nostalgia. In this course we will open our minds and rattle our senses.
Field WorkCountry: India
Day: 1 - Cochin - 9 March
Students will partake in a “Kerala Backwater Cruise” on a traditional Kettuvallam, a small thatched houseboat typical to Kerala. On this cruise, we’ll see the villages connected by these waterways. Students will be given a series of exercises dealing with a different element of essay writing at each stop: description, character, dialogue, conflict/causality, and scene versus exposition, and then discuss they way looking at an essay in terms of various elements and points can combine to create a larger, collage-like whole. We will also examine the way narrative and chronological events can be used, or subverted, to structure an essay. Academic Objectives:
- To examine various elements of creative nonfiction (scene, dialogue, description, characterization, etc.)
- To examine various ways of structuring a narrative about a place and trip