Coronavirus (Covid-19): Latest updates and information
Skip to main content Skip to navigation

Week 2. Travel and Travel Writing: A Global Genre

Travel is about navigating unfamiliar spaces, experiencing difference, and a sense of belonging or being out of place. It is also about processes of appropriation, representation, and classification. This week we will discuss what a global history of travel looks like, how we can study travel and for what purposes, and in which ways the theme of travel intersects with our individual research interests. We will also consider who speaks in travel records and why, and how the perspectives we bring to our subject impact on the way histories of travel are told and interpreted.

Core readings

Nandini Das and Tim Youngs (eds.), The Cambridge History of Travel Writing (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2019), 'Introduction', pp. 1-16. Link.

Mary Louise Pratt, Imperial Eyes: Travel Writing and Transculturation (London: Routledge, 1992), pp. xi-xii + pp. 1-11. Link.

Muzaffar Alam and Sanjay Subrahmanyam, 'Beijing to the Bosphorus: Notes on the Travel Account', India International Centre Quarterly 30.3-4 (2003-2004), pp. 89-107. Link.

Seminar Questions

1. Das and Youngs describe different disciplinary and methodological approaches to the study of travel. How do they differ? Which are most useful and valuable to you?

2. In what ways can we use travel records as a historical source and what are the kind of questions they help us address?

3. Pratt situates her work in a tradition that seeks to "decolonize knowledge" (p. 2). What does this entail, and how can this be achieved when focusing on European travel records and their "meaning-making"?

4. What does Pratt's concept of the "contact zone" offer to students of travel?

5. Alam and Subrahmanyam critique the tendency of reading e.g. Persian or Chinese travel accounts through the mirror of Western ones. How does "an opening to the world outside Europe" (p. 104) decentre and recalibrate conventional assumptions?

Further Reading

Campbell, Mary Baine, 'Travel Writing and Its Theory', in: Peter Hulme and Tim Youngs (eds.), The Cambridge Companion to Travel Writing (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2002), pp. 261-278. Link.

Clarke, Robert, The Cambridge Companion to Postcolonial Travel Writing (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2018). Link.

Duncan, James S., and Derek Gregory (eds.), Writes of Passage: Reading Travel Writing (London: Routledge, 1999). Link.

Forsdick, Charles, Zoë Kinsley, and Kathryn Walchester (eds.), Keywords for Travel Writing Studies: A Critical Glossary (London and New York: Anthem Press, 2019). Link.

Euben, Roxanne L., Journeys to the Other Shore: Muslim and Western Travelers in Search of Knowledge (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University press, 2006), 1-19. Link.

Gosch, Steven, and Peter Stearns, Premodern Travel in World History (New York: Routledge, 2008). Link.

Hulme, Peter, and Tim Youngs (eds.), The Cambridge Companion to Travel Writing (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2002). Link.

Khair, Tabish, 'African and Asian Travel Texts in the Light of Europe: An Introduction', in: Tabish Khair, Martin Leer, Justin D. Edwards, and Hanna Ziadeh (eds.), Other Routes: 1500 Years of African and Asian Travel Writing (Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press, 2005), pp. 1-27. Link.

Kuehn, Julia, and Paul Smethurst, New Directions in Travel Writing Studies (Houndmills: Palgrave MacMillan, 2015). Link.

Lisle, Debbie, The Global Politics of Contemporary Travel Writing (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2006). Link.

Mills, Sara, Discourses of Difference: An Analysis of Women’s Travel Writing and Colonialism (London and New York: Routledge, 1991).

Pagden, Anthony, Facing Each Other: the World's Perception of Europe and Europe's Perception of the World (Aldershot: Ashgate, 2000).

Sandrock, Kirsten, 'Discourses of Travep Writing', Barbara Schaff (ed.), Handbook of British Travel Writing (Berlin and Boston: De Gruyter, 2020), pp. 31-54. Link.

Schaff, Barbara, 'Periods of Travel Writing', in: Barbara Schaff (ed.), Handbook of British Travel Writing (Berlin and Boston: De Gruyter, 2020), pp. 11-30. Link.

Thompson, Carl, Travel Writing (Abingdon and New York: Routledge, 2011). Link.

Thompson, Carl (ed.), The Routledge Companion to Travel Writing (New York: Routledge, 2016). Link.

Ward, Julian, Xu Xiake (1586-1641): The Art of Travel Writing (London: Routledge, 2001), Ch. 1: 'The History of Chinese Travel Writing', pp. 1-37. Link.

Youngs, Tim, The Cambridge Introduction to Travel Writing (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2013). Link.

Zilcosky, John, 'Writing Travel', in: John Zilcosky (ed.), Writing Travel: The Poetics and Politics of the Modern Journey (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2008), pp. 3-22. Link.

Glossary. From: Thompson, Travel Writing (2011).

Decolonizing the Archive. Early Caribbean Digital Archive.

.