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.
Roughly 15 minutes with a bike from the city centre, you will find Linnaeus University’s campus. It is like a small society with the university, student accommodation, and student life. Here you become part of a creative knowledge environment.
What will you come across on an excursion in Växjö – the city of contrasts? You will find good restaurants, a celebrated hockey team, and cozy cafés where you can enjoy a latte with lingonberry flavour. In Växjö, beautiful nature is always just around the corner; the city is surrounded by lakes and forests. Students like the combination of the city centre and the active student life on campus. Your dream of the future starts here!