studera engelska kurs

The Self in travel writing

15 hp

This course gives students an insight into how authors have used travel writing to explore complex questions relating to identity, history and power structures in the 20th century.

The course focuses particularly on the relation between self and other, and travel writing as aesthetic exploration of the self and the world. It invites the student to explore the issues discussed during the course by writing a text modelled on the academic research article. It thus introduces the student to some of the methods of academic work in the humanities.

Aesthetics and Ideology

Travellers' encounters with what is portrayed as other cultures tend to underscore the unevenness of power relations between people from different parts of the world and to make travelers aware of their own biases and privileges. Travel narratives therefore invite readings that critically explore how the relations between different parts of the world and between the traveller and people he or she meets are conceptualized and conveyed. The course offers an opportunity to learn about and discuss convoluted relations between aesthetics and ideology.

Travelogues in literature

Travel is undoubtedly one of the oldest literary themes. It features in such works as The Epic of Gilgamesh, The Odyssey, The Conference of the Birds and the Icelandic sagas. It has often been associated with adventure, personal growth and the search for new spiritual and philosophical horizons. The way we typically conceptualise journeys is similar to the way narratives are typically structured: there is a linear progression from beginning to end. There is one or several persons that encounter and overcome obstacles and challenges, which makes them redefine themselves and their relation to the world.

Travel literature has often been seen as lesser literature, as not quite fact and not entirely fiction and as displaying a preoccupation with the exoticism and strangeness of "other" cultures. However, there are many examples of how 20th century writers have used the experience of travel and travel literature as a form to explore the relation between history and identity, colonial discourse, gender issues, etc. What is more, this writing is often remarkably inventive and aesthetically complex. Many writers reflect on fundamental questions of creativity, the politics of representation and mediation.


To study on a distance education will give you different opportunities than on-campus teaching. It means that, to a large extent, you will be able to plan your studies yourself, both in terms of time and place.

However, keep in mind that most distance education includes a number of compulsory digital lectures and digital seminars during the weekdays. Some distance education also include compulsory get-togethers, for which you will have to travel to Växjö or Kalmar.

There are a number of different ways to be a distance student, the common denominator being that a large part of your study work is carried out on the web. You communicate with the teacher and your fellow students using a learning platform with discussion forums, group work, recorded lectures or video meetings using a web cam.

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