Transatlantic Travel Writing
Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam
Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Area of Study
Literature, Literatures in English
Taught In English
Course Level Recommendations
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Recommended U.S. Semester Credits3
Recommended U.S. Quarter Units4
Hours & Credits
• Students become acquainted with some canonical texts from the long 19th century (British and American), and are able to relate them to travel narratives written by the same authors.
• Students are familiar with the genre of (British and American) travel writing and the developments of the genre between the late 18th and early 20th century.
• Students understand how travel writing is implicated in the processes of identity formation (both collective and individual) and intercultural exchange.
• Students are able to apply theoretical notions such as transnationalism, national culture, space and place, and gender to individual texts from the historical period.
• Students know how to start up and conduct a small academic research project for their final essay (group project).
• Students are able to freely express their ideas in both written work and informal, oral presentations.
• Students are able to engage in class discussions in a diversity-sensitive manner and are (more) aware of sociopolitical issues that play a role in culturally diverse classroom settings.
This course introduces students to American and British literature written between the end of the 18th century and the beginning of the 20th century. As it is impossible to cover all Anglo-American writing of the “long 19th century” in the course of seven weeks, we will focus on one specific genre: travel writing. This literary genre, which has been popular for centuries, has been much overlooked by academics and those constituting the British and American literary canons. The new critical paradigms of “transnationalism” and “globalization,” however, necessitate a new and serious look at these texts. We will read travel writings by authors such as Charles Dickens, Henry James and Mark Twain in combination with canonized texts by these same authors. This will allow us to compare and contextualize.
In addition, we will read and discuss some narratives written by lesser known and more marginal authors, as well as a few critical essays on travel writing. The course textbook is written by Carl Thompson, Travel Writing (Routledge 2011). The level of English in this course is high. You have to be able to read late 18th-, 19th- and early 20th-century texts.
Interactive lectures, close-readings of the assigned texts, film viewings and discussion, in-class group work, excursions, discussion of written assignments.
TYPE OF ASSESSMENT
Class participation, written assignments (Canvas posts; essay), exam. Consult the study guide of the course for a description of how the different components build up to the final grade.
Prerequisites: Students must also take (or have taken) part in one of three other modules: either (1) “Literature, Culture, and Society”; (2) “Introduction to American Studies”; or (3) “Social History of the United States.”
Courses and course hours of instruction are subject to change.
Some courses may require additional fees.