18th Century British Travel Writing
General Catalog Course Title:
Special Topics
Terms Offered:
Fall 2016
Spring 2016
Fall 2012
Course Thread: 
Cultural Forms in Transit
Bode, Christoph
Honig, Elizabeth

This course is based on the idea that if there is one genre in which ideas of identity--ideas of how one's own self and culture are related to other selves and other cultures--are systematically negotiated, then this must be the hybrid genre of travel writing, because travel writing is constituted by a discursive processing of encounters with 'the Other.' We shall look at some paradigmatic 18th-century texts, and we will try to answer questions like, What difference does it make whether a European writer travels in Europe or outside Europe? Whether alone or in company? Whether the writer is female or male? Whether the subjectivity of the writer is highlighted or toned down? Whether it is written during the journey or long afterwards? By which comparisons and metaphorics is alterity produced and processed? What is the importance of the form of the travelogue (e.g., whether it is in letters or written as a scientific report on a journey of exploration)? The vanishing point of all these questions is, of course, how in the eighteenth century Europe's idea of itself emerges from its encounters with others.

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