Students will learn how to render their observations and experiences as travelers into prose that’s engaging to a broad audience. This kind of writing involves mixing acute observation, reporting, and story-telling, but also requires that students learn to write about themselves in first person in a way that fits their identities and earns the reader’s trust. We will begin with basic skills: learning how to use a notebook, writing evocative paragraphs about setting, learning how to use a personal voice. We will move on to story telling and the shaping of narrative and learn to tune prose until we’ve got the right personal tone. Inspiration will come in part from reading and discussing the work of some of the ‘best’ contemporary travel writers. Students will revise their work based on comments, edits and evaluations that will come out of our workshop format and from individual conferences. Students will also participate in a public reading of their work.
Field WorkCountry: Portugal
Day: 1 - Lisbon - Saturday, 21 June
Our collective scavenger hunt in Lisbon involves small groups of students exploring the neighborhood of Chiado in order to discover and record the kinds of evocative sensory details that are likely to make a piece of writing both concrete and dynamic. Groups will compete to complete a template of sights, tastes, smells, sounds, and touch involving a variety of possible locations/buildings that should or could intersect with topics having to do with religion, politics, nature, geography, music, food, or art. After completing the scavenger hunt, we will head to the Alfama district for lunch and a Fado music performance. In the afternoon, students will have the opportunity to stop and write in place along the route of a walk back to the ship. Ultimately students will turn their notes and partial drafts into an 8-10 page travel piece, a blog posting of equal length, or a multimedia project. This longer work need not be focused on Lisbon, but the habits and processes of observation and annotation should be in evidence in the field-based writing from this lab. Academic Objectives: 1. To learn to observe imaginatively, to avoid cliché, to learn the essence of specificity, and to learn to describe settings concretely, primarily by evoking the senses. 2. To learn to come up with an idea for a story and to propose the idea engagingly 3. To learn enough about the city of Lisbon to understand how one’s own interests, knowledge, and abilities might intersect with what one sees, learns and discovers; ultimately students must find a way to use their experience of Portugal to produce a dynamic travel piece, blog article, or multimedia project.