GERM-220 Imaginary Voyages
Fall for 2017-2018
"The lore of faraway places," Walter Benjamin writes, “is a fundamental part of storytelling. Journeys lead to stories. And stories lead to other journeys: imaginative voyages taken by the listener or reader.”
In this course, we will examine a wide range of narratives about journeys, paying special attention to recent theories regarding colonialism and travel. We will investigate recurring themes in travel fictions and travelogues: banishment, sexual conquest, violence toward "nature," getting lost and finding one’s way "home." We will explore "Othering" discourses--of cannibalism and infanticide; the production of colonial knowledge--geographic, medicinal, and zoological; the role of sexual anxiety in the construction of the gendered travelling body; the interplay between imperial and domestic spheres; re-appropriation of alien discourse by indigenous cultures. Throughout the course, we will attempt to provide a more nuanced account of the hegemonic functions of travel-writing, resisting the temptation to think in terms of a simple monolithic Eurocentrism.
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