WRIT 114.009 | The Skeptical Traveler
Shevaun Watson | Spring 2014 | TTh 3:30-5:45
Travel is an essentially human activity—one in which almost every 21st century college graduate will engage, for business or pleasure or both. We primarily experience travel through tourism, which is a major economic enterprise around the world, as well as a unique social and cultural phenomenon worthy of study. Many academic disciplines converge around travel and tourism: geography, anthropology, history, sociology, business and marketing, and literature, to name a few. As we learn to think about the world from the perspective of tourism, we discover many reasons to think carefully about the relationship between travelers and their destinations, between tourists and the people who live in destination areas. Today, travelers need to go beyond the limited and pre-packaged experiences of tourism if they want to learn more about other places—and be welcomed by the people who call those places home. The genre of literature called "travel writing" is a popular form of creative nonfiction, but it is not without its pitfalls and questions: How does one go about representing other people, other places, other cultures in an ethical way? How does the lens of tourism shape one's experience of a place and a people? What responsibility does a travel writer owe to people—whether readers, consumers, or locals? We will explore these issues and more in this version of the Blugold Seminar.