Questions of Travel: Literature, Place, and Identity

Spring 2017

FRPG 2088
Instructor: Katie Murphy
Meeting Days/Times: Tuesday and Thursday 10:10 a.m. to 12:20 p.m.
This course fulfills the FYS general education requirement.

Global travel has become such a widespread activity—and presumed catalyst for personal growth—that we rarely pause to reflect on its history, purpose, and value. The 20th century American poet Elizabeth Bishop asked, while visiting Brazil, “Should we have just stayed at home and thought of here?” Why have humans been impelled historically to move between far-reaching locations? How has this impulse for travel (and the twin expectation of a broadened identity) been captured in literature? In this seminar, we will examine texts that focus on travel for leisure, adventure, and contemplation, as well as accounts of travel borne from necessity. Students will read and analyze narratives of journeys, pilgrimages, migration, and immigration; in doing so, we will consider how travel both forms and fractures our concepts of identity and home. Students will lend their voices to the conversation through a culminating research project that develops their own critical perspective on the subject.

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