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First-Year Writing Seminar: Pilgrimage: Journey, Memory, Material Culture

Semester and Year FA 2017
Course Number FIRST-UG432
Section 001
Instructor Michelle Lee
Days MW
Time 9:30 AM - 10:45 AM
Units 4
Level U


Open to Gallatin first-year students only.


Travel writing is a fascinating and diverse genre that has proliferated from antiquity to the twenty-first century. It appeals to many people for a variety of reasons: it introduces us to new people and places; it often features vivid and appealing prose; it offers insight into the way people make sense of their real-life experiences; and it inspires us to daydream about our own travels. In this course, we will study travel writing by discussing each text’s authorial personae, context, narrative structure as well as intended audiences, and evaluate the writing through the lens of some potent critiques of travel writing and tourism. Sources of study include European Romantic travel writing by canonical writers such as Gerard Nerval and Gustave Flaubert, Jamaica Kincaid’s A Small Place, travel photography by Maxime Du Camp and Martin Scorsese’s My Voyage to Italy. Central to our approach to the readings will be the idea of pilgrimage: how do travel stories reflect a search for moral or spiritual significance? Throughout the course, we will consider the following questions: Who is telling these road stories? Why? At what type of audience are these stories directed? How can we tell? What are we meant to learn about the people, places, and journeys they describe? How do these texts invite us to make sense of the world? How do the authors shape meaning through their use of language? What anxieties, desires, and visions of selfhood do they project?


All Syllabi

Course Type

First-Year Program: Writing Seminars (FIRST-UG)