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ENGL6080 - Travel Writing and Culture
2020-2021 First Semester
Contact Hours per week
Form of Assessment
100% coursework
Tuesday , 10:30 am - 12:20 pm , MB167

*Please note that the ENGL6080 timeslot will be extended from 10.30-1.30 (3 hours), to allow for a splitting of the group into 2 sections. Please reserve the third hour in your timetables. Your teacher will give further details in the first session.



This is a fast-moving course which begins with a survey of the history of western travel writing from medieval times to the present. En route, we will examine travel writing as a literary genre and scrutinize travel texts for social, political and cross-cultural implications which have been, and continue to be, instrumental in shaping worldviews.

As well as studying a wide range of primary texts in English from The Travels of Marco Polo to Pico Iyer’s The Global Soul, students will also engage with critical and theoretical texts to explore such issues as, translation, gender, imperialism, tourism, the environment and postmodernism.



The main objective of the course is to introduce students to travel writing as a distinct literary genre, and to recognize the various styles, strategies and problems of representation presented by 'writing travel'. A wide range of texts will be studied giving students the opportunity to explore writing from different historical periods and to consider the political implications of presenting world views in particular socio-historical-geographical contexts.

Having been introduced to a range of different styles of writing about travel and places, students will learn how to approach travel writing critically, and will also produce a piece of creative travel writing themselves.



We will meet once a week, for a 2-hour session on Tuesdays (first semester). The course is interactive, with plenty of hands-on workshops and discussions. Students’ initiative and questions are paramount for any successful course, so do expect to participate – it will count towards your grade! Teacher’s lectures, which introduce authors, history, geography, issues of style, various themes and critical approaches will always precede our discussions and workshops, to guide students in their analyses, critical foci and possible questions.

Course Content
The below gives you a rough outline of how our course progresses and which authors we will read.

  1. Travel Writing: the Genre, the Common Tropes
  2. Writing the East: Marco Polo, John Mandeville
  3. New Worlds, First Encounters: Christopher Columbus, James Cook
  4. The Grand Tour: James Boswell, Tobias Smollett, Lawrence Sterne
  5. Literary Travels: Charles Dickens, Robert Louis Stevenson
  6. Travel Writing: Critical Approaches
  7. Modern Romantics and Tourists: D.H. Lawrence, Lawrence Durrell
  8. Gendered Travels: Mary Wortley Montagu, Mary Kingsley
  9. Postcolonial and Global Travelling: Caryl Phillips, Amitav Ghosh, Pico Iyer
  10. Eco-Travels: Robyn Davidson, Peter Matthiessen
  11. Travels on Facebook, Instagram and in Vlogs
  12. Conclusion



Assessment is by 100% coursework. There are several parts to the assessment:

1. Participation (15%)

2. Your own piece of travel writing (25%): Factual or creative writing (how factual, how creative is up to you – you will receive guidelines), of 1,200-1,500 words.

3. A book review (15%): a critical summary of a full travelogue from our course list, of 500-700 words. We will only read extracts in our course (see Course Pack) but I want you to read at least one full travelogue and summarise it. You will receive guidelines from your teacher  if you have never written a book review before.

4. Term Paper (45%): A critical essay demonstrating good knowledge of works by two or more travel writers and working with theoretical or historical background texts, of 1,800-2,000 words.



The Course Pack with primary readings (in extracts) will be available on Moodle prior to the start of the course. Students are expected to come to class prepared and have read the excerpts assigned to any given week. Additional texts (creative or critical) may be handed out in class, as necessary.


Adams, P.G. 1962. Travellers and Travel Liars, 1660-1800. Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press.

Bhabha, Homi K. 'Culture's In-Between' from Questions of Cultural Identity, eds. Hall and Du Gay (1996)

Blanton, Casey, Travel Writing: The Self and the World (2002).

Borm, J. 2004. ‘Defining Travel: On the Travel Book, Travel Writing and Terminology.’ In: Hooper, G. and Youngs, T. eds. Perspectives on Travel Writing. Aldershot: Ashgate. pp. 13-26.

Campbell, Mary B. The witness and the other world (1988)

Clifford, James, Routes: Travel and Translation in the Twentieth Century (1997).

Cronin, Michael, 'The Rambling House of Language', in Across the Lines: Travel, Language, Translation (2000)

Foucault, M. 1994 [1966]. The Order of Things: An Archaeology of the Human Sciences. New York: Vintage.

Fussell, P. 1980. Abroad: British Literary Traveling between the Wars. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Fussell, P. 1987. ‘Introduction: On Travel and Travel Writing’. In: Fussell, P. ed. 1987. The Norton Book of Travel. New York and London: Norton. pp. 13-17.

Greenblatt, Stephen. Marvellous Possessions: The Wonder of the New World. (1991)

Hall, Stuart, 'The West and the Rest: Discourse and Power' in Foundations of Modernity, eds. Hall and Gieben (1992)

Holland, P. and Huggan, G. 1998. Tourists with Typewriters: Critical Reflections on Contemporary Travel Writing. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press.

Holland, Patrick and Graham Huggan, Tourists with Typewriters: Critical Reflections on Contemporary Travel Writing (1998).

Howard, Donald. Writers and Pilgrims (1980)

Hulme, P. and Youngs, T. 2002. ‘Introduction’. In: Hulme, P. and Youngs, T. eds. 2002. The Cambridge Companion to Travel Writing. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. pp. 1-13.

Hulme, Peter and Youngs, Tim, The Cambridge Guide to Travel Writing (2002)

Korte, Barbara, English Travel Writing: From Pilgrimages to Postcolonial Explorations. Translated by Catherine Matthias (2000).

Kowaleski, M. 1992. ‘Introduction: The Modern Literature of Travel’. In: Kowaleski, M. ed. Temperamental Journeys: Essays on the Modern Literature of Travel. Athens, GA: University of Georgia Press. pp. 1-16.

Kuehn, Julia and Paul Smethurst (eds.), New Approaches to Travel Writing Studies (2014)

Kuehn, Julia and Paul Smethurst (eds.), Travel Writing, Form and Empire (2008)

Mills, Sara, Gender and Colonial Space (2005).

Pratt, Mary Louise. 'Criticism in the Contact Zone' in Imperial Eyes: Travel Writing and Transculturation (1992)

Roberson, Susan L (ed.). Defining Travel: Diverse Versions (2001)

Said, Edward. 'Overlapping Territories, Intertwined Histories' in Culture and Imperialism (1993)

Thompson, Carl. Travel Writing (2011)

Von Martels, Z. ed. 1994. Travel Fact and Travel Fiction: Studies on Fiction, Literary Tradition, Scholarly Discovery and Observation in Travel Writing. Leiden: Brill.

Wood, Frances. Did Marco Polo Go to China? (1995)

Youngs, T. 2013. The Cambridge Introduction to Travel Writing. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Zilkosky. J. ed. 2008. Writing Travel: The Poetics and Politics of the Modern Journey. Toronto: University of Toronto Press.

This is only a sample of general works on travel writing. Don't worry if you can't get hold of some of these, and do look yourself for specific works on particular writers, periods and themes. You can find a wider selection of sources, including online sources at www.studiesintravelwriting.com

2020-2021 First Semester
Contact Hours per week
Form of Assessment
100% coursework
Tuesday , 10:30 am - 12:20 pm , MB167