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Reading Rome : Travel Writing
Introduction Objectives Guidelines

Because many of our primary sources are models of travel writing in one way or another, and because this course is a prerequisite for Writing Rome, students of Reading Rome will make some inroads into the genre of travel writing through the study of good exemplars and select writing exercises.


This project, worth 25% of the course grade, will enable students to

-- prepare themselves for the travel writing assignments of TX-201;

-- reflect on the travel writing they have already done; and

-- reflect on their Reading Rome experience as a whole.

You've already done some work toward achieving these goals.  First, you've written a walk-through ancient Rome, narrating what you see along the way.  Second, you've been reading works by travelers, both to Rome and elsewhere, and you've consulted with writing experts.

Now it's time to put all of that preparation to work in a short assignment that asks you to reconsider the first piece of travel writing you did for Reading/Writing Rome -- your application essay -- and to look forward to the start of our voyage.



Write a reflective essay in which you...

1.  Look back on the essay you wrote when you applied to our travel seminar.  Reflect on your experiences and studies in CC 265 versus your prior expectations.  Are you prepared for Rome?  What do you think the course has added to your outlook?  After reading the city from many different vantage points, is there something in particular you wish to see or do?  When you applied you might have known only a few people in the seminar.  How has getting to know your classmates affected your outlook on the trip?

     Note that we are not asking you to assess the course.  Rather, assess your academic journey by comparing and contrasting the you of September/October 2010 with the older, wiser you of April/May 2011.

2.  Flash forward to your first hour in Rome, once we've gotten off the plane, gone through customs, gotten to our residence, unpacked, and tidied up.  The hour begins when we're all assembled in the foyer of St. John's on the afternoon of May 23rd and we take our first walk together.  What happens?  What do you see? How do you feel?  Who makes the first joke about Paolo?  What's the first thing Dan and Jackie argue about?

If you have misplaced your application essay, please let Dan or Jackie know.


Here is an opportunity to put some of our travel writing tips, courtesy of Professors Bernard and Woodworth, to good use.  Among the more useful tips for this exercise:  use your senses;  describe, don't analyze (at least not in the second half);  be there and be you;  put yourself (and your friends) in the picture.

The blog post that collects these and other tips is here.

Length and Format

Aim for an essay of 900-1200 words -- about 3-4 typed double-spaced pages, if you were using a word processor.  But you WON'T be using a word processor because...

...you'll be setting up a blog (if you don't already have one) and posting your essay as a blog entry.  You should all be familiar with the concept of blogging (or web-logging), since Dan and Jackie have been using a blog since March for notices and assignments.  (If you already have your own blog, what follows will be old hat.)

Set up a blog with either Blogger, WordPress, or LiveJournal, the three major blogging sites. All are free, though you will need to register to use them.  (If you already have a Google account, then you can begin using Blogger.)  Generally speaking, neither one of these services is far superior to any other, though each has its advantages and disadvantages -- and its own loyalists and detractors. (See a comparative review here.)

Don't worry about perfecting the look and feel of your blog just yet -- you can tinker with it after the semester is over and before the trip begins.  The important thing is to start using it for this assignment and so we can create our blogroll (roster of blogs), since you will be required use your blog in Rome to complete your writing assignments on-site.

You should make sure that your posts are publicly viewable on the world wide web, and that comments are enabled so Jackie and Dan and others can provide feedback.  That said, you should take care to guard your privacy and to set some restrictions on who may comment, lest your posts get spammed.

If you need help setting up a blog, your professors and your peers will be delighted to help you.

Finally, for this exercise you might find it easier to work in a word processor and then to cut-and-paste your essay into your blog.  That's fine, but do be aware that formatting differences can and do occur.  Proofread before you post.

Due date

Your essay / blog entry is due anytime between now and 1:30 p.m. on May 12 (the beginning of our final exam).  Although you may elect to post it just before the final exam, the final is its own animal with its own expectations and requirements.

When you have posted your assignment (that is, when it is ready to be viewed by the world), email Dan and Jackie with the address of your blog (or at least the address of your post).


We expect that your essay will be thoughtful, and impeccable in grammar, spelling, and usage.  The final product might be rather brief, but the time spent getting it to that point need not be.  Rule-of-thumb: if it reads like it was written hastily, it probably was.  Get into the writerly spirit now, and gear up for Writing Rome!

Please let Jackie or Dan know if you have any questions.

© MMXI Skidmore College Classics Department