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IT336 Destination Italy: The Ethics of Travel and Travel Writing

Module Code: IT336
Module Name: Destination Italy: The Ethics of Travel and Travel Writing
Module Coordinator: Dr Joanne Lee
Term 2 Time: Tuesday 1-3 S0.08 In person combined lecture and seminar
Module Credits: 15

Module Description

For centuries Italy has been a favoured destination for travellers, from medieval pilgrims to the Grand Tourists of the 1700s and 1800s. More recently it has become a site of mass tourism while millions more experience 'Destination Italy' by staying in one of the hyperreal hotels of Las Vegas or by strolling through Renaissance Florence in the virtual world of a video game. In this module we will explore how Italy has been constructed in popular imagination through the accounts of both foreign travellers to the peninsular and by Italian writers. We will interrogate common notions of travel as a means of self-fulfilment and quest for authenticity and consider the impact that gender, sexuality, race, ethnicity and class have on travel. The module also examines the ethical and environmental implications of travel and considers alternatives such as ecotourism, slow travel and virtual travel. Discussions will be informed by theoretical works on travel, identity, postmodernism, postcolonial studies and semiotics.

Outline Syllabus

Week 1: Introduction to travel and travel writing studies
Week 2: Images of Italy (1) Destination Italy from the Grand Tour to mass tourism
Week 3: Images of Italy (2)
Week 4: Italian domestic travel writing
Week 5: Margins and peripheries
Week 6: Reading week
Week 7: Colonial and Postcolonial travel
Week 8: Ecotravel and Slow tourism
Week 9: Travels in hyperreality
Week 10: Virtual Italy: from the stereoscope to Assassin's Creed


  • A critique of a travel text on Italy (1800-2000 words) 50%
  • A travel itinerary and critical reflection (1800-2000 words) 50%

Set Texts

Below are some examples of the texts we will be discussing in seminars which are subject to change. Please note we will be using extracts of most of these, and different groups will be assigned different texts, so you will not be expected to read each one in full.

Week 2: Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe, Italian Journey [trans. W.H Auden & E. Mayer] (London: Penguin, 1970) Germaine de Staël, Corinne, or Italy (Oxford: OUP, 1998) E.M. Forster, Where Angels Fear to Tread (London: Penguin, 1975 [1905]); Charles Dickens, Pictures from Italy (London: Penguin 1998 [1846]

Week 3: Frances Mayes, Under the Tuscan Sun (Penguin: London, 2016 [1998]); Elizabeth Gilbert, Eat, Pray, Love (London: Bloomsbury, 2006); Tim Parks, Italian Neighbours (Vintage, London, 1998 [1992])

Week 4: Antonio Stoppani, Il bel paese (Agnelli, 1876) Guido Piovene, Viaggio in Italia (Mondadori, 1957); Paolo Rumiz, L’Italia in seconda classe (Feltrinelli, 2009) Michele Serra, Tutti al mare (Feltrinelli 1990)

Week 5: Stefania Scateni, ed., Periferie: Viaggio ai margini delle città (Rome-Bari: Laterza 2006); Anna Maria Ortese, 'Oro a Forcella', in Il mare non bagna Napoli (Adelphi, 1994). Anna Maria Ortese, 'Le piramidi di Milano', in Silenzio a Milano (Tartaruga, 1986)

Week 7: Marisa Baratti, Era una volta il… Ricordi d’Eritrea dal 1919 al 1989 (Milan: Montedit, 2003); Erminia ell’Oro, Asmara addio (Milan: Baldini & Castoldi, 1997; 1st edn 1988); Rino Bianco & Igiaba Scego, Roma negata: percorsi postcoloniali nella città (Rome: Ediesse, 2014);

Week 8: Paolo Rumiz, Appia (Milan: Feltrinelli, 2016) Andrea Bocconi & Claudio Visentin, In viaggio con l’asino (Parma: Ugo Guanda 2009); Paolo Rumiz, La leggenda dei monti naviganti (Feltrinelli, 2007); Tiziano Terzani, Un indovino mi disse.

Week 9: Umberto Eco, ‘Travels in Hyperreality’, in Faith in Fakes: Travels in Hyperreality, trans. William Weaver (London: Minerva), 1-58.

Dr Joanne Lee

jo dot lee at warwick dot ac dot uk

Link to Moodle Page