Scribner Seminar Program
British Love Affair with Italy: The Grand Tour
Instructor(s): Shirley Smith, Foreign Language and Literature
Young British aristocrats from the mid 1600s until the age of the railway in the 1840s traveled abroad to achieve a degree of ‘refinement’. Italy, site of both ancient Roman art and Renaissance grandeur, was a primary destination. Students examine the Grand Tour experience of British men and women and the impact their journeys had on the shape of culture at home. When they returned, the Grand tourists built prodigious art collections; they transformed urban architecture, their homes, and gardens; and they wrote copious narratives relating to their experience. Students reconstruct the journey and subsequently look at what travelers brought home: knowledge, experience, artifacts, and sometimes diseases. Ultimately, the class reflects on this early model of study abroad and how it impacts the choices of American students today.