Strangers in a Strange Land: Travel Narratives in World History
This course will trace a path through history from the classical period to the present day through the eye of the traveler. Each class we will read from 3-4 examples of a travel narrative, some first hand, some in translation and some altogether fictional. Through our readings we will participate in each traveler’s journey, and with a little imagination, encounter, analyze and discuss the people, places, things and ideas that shape the experience of discovery. The readings have been selected to represent a variety of genres, experiences and chronologies in order to gain as comprehensive of an understanding of the different contexts of world travel as possible. For example, we will study narratives often in a comparative context – looking both to Marco Polo and Ibn Battuta as they traveled Asia and Africa, both Chinese and British accounts of travel to India, the discovery of America from both Columbus and Bartolome de las Casas. We’ll also spend some time contemplating what constitutes travel and a narrative of discovery in the 20th and 21st century through the genres of film and the exploration of outer space to determine what sort of frontiers await the contemporary traveler.
*This course fulfills the seminar requirement and a world history concentration requirement for the History Major.