Wednesday

Course Description


[Steenie Harvey: The Travel Writer (2006)]


What is this course about?


In this paper you study texts by prominent contemporary travel writers, paying special attention to literary aspects of their work. You then apply your critical understanding of the genre to the production of your own travel stories, based on experiences that you have had overseas or within New Zealand.

It is important to emphasise that this is a course in creative non-fiction, rather than in travel journalism per se. Nevertheless, while it covers both practical and theoretical aspects of Travel Writing, the emphasis throughout will be on pragmatic ways of improving your own work within this field.

What are our learning objectives?

Students who successfully complete this paper should be able to:
  1. Demonstrate an understanding of the variety of travel books published in recent years.
  2. Employ a literary-critical vocabulary germane to the interpretation of these texts.
  3. Reflect on the ideological and ethical issues involved in the representation of other cultures and peoples.
  4. Incorporate their critical awareness of the genre of travel writing into their own creative practice.
  5. Compose work in this genre which demonstrates enhanced creativity and skill as a writer.

What am I expected to do each week?

You will attend one hour-long lecture and one two-hour workshop every week.

To prepare for the lecture, you must read the texts in the Course Anthology prescribed for that particular session (for further details, see the Course Timetable).

In the workshop there will be further discussion of these readings. You will also be expected to bring along any writing homework set for that week.

Attendance at both lectures and workshops is compulsory. A roll will be taken at each workshop. More than four unexplained absences will be taken as grounds for failure in the course.

What is good lecture etiquette?

  • All lectures and workshops begin at on the hour and continue till ten to the hour.
  • Please be punctual. If you arrive late, try to take a seat as quietly and unobtrusively as possible.
  • If you know you will have to leave early (for whatever reason), try to inform your lecturer of this in advance. Avoid disruption to other students by sitting at the end of a row. Try to close the door quietly as you go out.
  • If you are expecting an urgent phonecall and need to keep your cellphone on, you must clear this with your lecturer in advance. Otherwise, all cellphones should be turned off at all times. If you forget, and it rings by mistake, don't answer it.
  • Don't talk unless there's a class discussion underway. Make sure your remarks are addressed to the group as a whole, not your immediate neighbour.

What are the protocols of a writing workshop?

  1. Be courteous and supportive of each other – constructively critical, not negative.
  2. Be honest. Don’t give out praise or blame if you don’t really mean it.
  3. Make no introductions to or apologies for the piece of work you are reading out. Let it speak for itself.
  4. Don’t refuse to read your work out too often, or it will become an increasingly frightening prospect.


[Charles D. Laughlin: The Ethnographer (Uganda, 1969-70)]


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