Skip to Gallatin Navigation Skip to Gallatin Main Content

NYU Florence: Italian Sketchbook: Travel Writing and Digital Storytelling

Gallatin Study Away Course
IDSEM-UG 9201, 2 credits
Typically Offered: Spring Only
Level: Undergraduate
Gallatin requirement: HUM

Promotional video about the course.

Gazing at the photographs in Sharon Harper’s series, Flight/Flug, a traveler is reminded of a vertiginous view from the window of a high-speed train, the landscape blurred by velocity, such that the train’s movement is projected onto the rolling landscape. “Travel dislodges thoughts,” explains Harper, and indeed, her photographs reproduce the sensation of movement, of staring out a window and letting one’s mind drift.

Writing and representing travel and mobility are crucial mechanisms by which we situate ourselves within the world. Such ideas become tightly bound not only with public models of collective expression, such as nationality and class, but also with more private conceptions of identity and family.

This course will reference a wide range of forms—the essay, the journal, the sketchbook, the map, the photograph, the human voice—through which an author represents the thoughts and sensations of mobility. We will also explore many different authorial subject positions such as cartographer, pilgrim, explorer, fugitive, and tourist.

In our study of these forms, we will focus on two primary impulses: observation and creation. We will trace how traveling subjects have observed and recorded the world as expressions of artistic representation, scientific discovery and comparative sociocultural analysis. We will also focus on their strategies and techniques (in particular, the interchange between word and image, employed by authors and artists) as we translate these familiar approaches into new digital forms. Italy, and in particular, Florence, will serve as the most immediate conceptual and physical context for investigation. We will thus be able to link the textual and visual material studied in the classroom with the world beyond the boundaries of the La Pietra campus.

For the most up-to-date course schedule details and for information about NYU Florence, visit the NYU Florence homepage.