In her poem “Questions of Travel,” Elizabeth Bishop writes, Should we have stayed at home and thought of here? / Where should we be today? / Is it right to be watching strangers at play / In this strangest of theaters? This is the lament of every traveler, and the restlessness of these lines speaks directly to the literary practice we call ‘travel writing.’ We will examine the rich tradition of travel literature (non-fiction) and the ways travel and cultural collision have often animated the short story and the novel (fiction). In doing so, we’ll hit the road with dropouts, mystics, émigrés and exiles from Goethe’s time to our own, and locate common themes in travel writing across continents and historical periods. In addition, students will embark on their own journeys as travel writers, using the travel experiences they’ve catalogued as the basis for regular written exercises that will be workshopped.
Corequisites: Students are required to attend all Literature Evenings and Poetry at Bennington events (typically held on alternating Wednesdays at 7:00pm).