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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: TBC - In person 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: Destination Italy from the Grand Tour to mass tourism
Week 3: Italian domestic travel writing
Week 4: Peripheries and margins
Week 5: Colonial and postcolonial travel
Week 6: Reading week
Week 7: Travel and globalisation
Week 8: Ecotravel and Slow tourism
Week 9: Travels in hyperreality
Week 10: Virtual travel: from the stereoscope to Assassin's Creed


  • A critique of an Italian-authored travel text (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. Please note we will be using extracts of most of these, 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, Corrine, 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: Antonio Stoppani, Il bel paese (Agnelli, 1876) extracts Guido Piovene, Viaggio in Italia (Mondadori, 1957) extracts Anna Maria Ortese, La lente scura (Milan: Adelphi, 2004)

Week 4: Stefania Scateni, ed., Periferie: Viaggio ai margini delle città (Rome-Bari: Laterza 2006); Fabrizia Ramondino, In viaggio (Turin: Einaudi, 1995)

Week 5: 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 7: Petrignani, Sandra, Ultima India (Milan: Baldini & Castoldi, 1996) extracts Laura Pariani, Il piatto dell’angelo (Milan: Giunti, 2013).

Week 8: Paolo Rumiz, Appia (Milan: Feltrinelli, 2016) Andrea Bocconi & Claudio Visentin, In viaggio con l’asino (Parma: Ugo Guanda 2009) Tiziano Terzani, Un indovino mi disse (Milan: Longanesi, 1994).

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