Travel, Narration, Migration
Mobility, both physical and virtual, is a key feature of modernity. This course examines various forms of geographic mobility in modern European literature and non-fictional travel writing. This includes literary portraits of tourism and migration, Italian journeys and Arctic exploration, beach vacations and road trips, encounters with urban modernity and global displacements. We will discuss the mobile subjects inside and outside of texts and their different kinds of endeavors. Questions include: Where are they going and why? What are their primary means of transportations and how do they shape their respective visions? What are they observing and experiencing in the course of their being on the move? How do the texts frame the notions of departure and arrival? What are the mythical and ideological dimensions of going east, west, north, and south? What are the boundaries crossed and the contact zones envisioned? What are the cultural frameworks they draw upon and the literary means for representing self and Other? How do they envision the emigrant and immigrant experience? Primary texts include major writers in the German literary canon such as Joseph von Eichendorff and Thomas Mann; young female world travelers such as the Swiss journalist and writer Annemarie Schwarzenbach who drove from Switzerland to Afghanistan in the late 1930s; literary adventurers such as the renowned Austrian mythopoet Christoph Ransmayr; transnational writers from Eastern Europe and Japan such as Joseph Roth, Alina Bronsky, and Yoko Tawada. The course has three major goals: Students can expect to expand their knowledge of world literature in translation; to sharpen their critical reading and writing skills, and to complete an independent course-related project, either creative or analytical.
Requirements: Regular attendance and class participation; oral assignments and take-home essays, midterm and final project. Readings and discussion are in English.