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Skidmore College
First-Year Experience

Scribner Seminar Program
Course Description

Travel Writing and Gender: Identity, Place, and Power

Instructor(s): Adrienne Zuerner, World Languages & Literatures

What does travel writing have to do with identity, knowledge, and 
power?  Focusing on women's travel writing during two distinct 
historical periods, student will read representative narratives from the period of "high imperialism" (mid 19th-early 20thc.) when European women recorded their voyages to Africa and the Middle East. These travel narratives will serve as a point of departure for examining the multiple and sometimes conflicting relationships between place, politics, and identity. Students will also study the ways in which these narratives serve today as evidence in a range of disciplines, including history, geography, women's and postcolonial studies. Turning to the contemporary period, we will read travel narratives by "Other" women, typically silent in colonial travel accounts, who speak of their experience of boundaries, dislocation, and exile. We will ask what location and identity mean in the era of globalization. Throughout, this seminar will encourage students to analyze and interrogate the perceived oppositions between colonizer/colonized, self/other, home/elsewhere center/margin taking into account how other features of authorial identity, including class, ethnicity, and sexuality, shape women's travel experiences and narratives.

Course Offered