This module explores the notions of exile, travel, and the question of ethnographic gaze by focusing on an international corpus of nineteenth- and twentieth-century texts that concern the transnational movement of European and non-European writers across the globe. Travel trajectories will be studied in relation to the specific historical and cultural contexts out of which the texts originated and that concern complex issues of race, identity, gender, and imperial history. Writers examined include Gustave Flaubert, Florence Nightingale, Henri Michaux, Claude Lévi-Strauss, Gao Xingjian, Kuki Shuzo, Walter Benjamin, etc.
The course aims to provide students with an international and comparative methodology for studying the phenomenon of travel, exile, and ethnographic narratives. Students will also be equipped with a critical framework that will allow them to interrogate and problematise Eurocentric and exoticising perspectives of Asian, African, and Latin American countries, particularly what the critics Mary Louise Pratt and Edward Said have theorised as 'imperial eyes' and 'Orientalism' respectively.
Total Contact Hours: 20
Method of assessment
Essay (3,000 words) – 80%
Presentation (20 minutes) – 20%
Indicative Reading List
Benjamin, W. Berlin Childhood around 1900
Flaubert, G. Flaubert in Egypt (extracts)
Gao, X. Soul Mountain
Kuki, S. Paris Mindscapes
Lévi-Strauss, C. Tristes tropiques
Michaux, H. A Barbarian in Asia
Nightingale, F. Letters from Egypt
See the library reading list for this module (Canterbury)
On successfully completing the module students will be able to:
- Demonstrate systematic understanding of key critical issues involved in travel, exile and their literary narration, especially from ethnographic perspectives;
- Demonstrate a conceptual understanding of a wide range of travel and exilic narratives from four different continents (Europe, Asia, Africa, and South America);
- Discuss and assess the aesthetic and ideological aspects of travel literature, displaying the ability to make cogent literary-critical judgments based on rigorous textual analysis, and an awareness of the critical scholarship on the subject;
- Evaluate critically and cogently the ways in which narratives of travel, exile, and ethnographic fiction transcend fixed categories of genre, and to devise and sustain arguments based upon judgments about literary genres in general;
- Interrogate and problematise Eurocentric and exoticising perspectives of Asian, African, and Latin America countries, particularly the question of the ethnographic gaze, by referring to what the critics Mary Louise Pratt and Edward Said have theorised as 'imperial eyes' and 'Orientalism' respectively.
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