Studies in East-West Literary Relations
This course will examine a selection of travel narratives within the context of contemporary postcolonial theory and “mobility studies.” Throughout the course, we will be acquainting ourselves with recent theoretical work on travel, Orientalism, and mobility in both the early modern and modern periods. Readings of primary texts will begin with a glance backward to Marco Polo's thirteenth-century account of his travels to the East and Columbus’s account of what he thought was his voyage to the East, as well as some early modern accounts of travel to the Ottoman empire and to Brazil We will then shift to a selection of nineteenth- and twentieth-century travel narratives, both fictional and non-fictional, and end the seminar with three contemporary “migrant writers” who travel between languages. Questions to be addressed
include; intertextuality and its ideological effects; modes of encounter and representation of racial, cultural, historical, linguistic, and sexual otherness; the stereotype as fetish; Islamophobia and Islamophilia; cross-cultural cross-dressing. How does travel contribute to the construction of a place called “home,” and how might it disrupt that construction? What fantasy compels Europeans to find “cannibalism” in the East and the New World, over and over again? What happens to Orientalist discourse when the Orientalist is a woman who gains access to the Ottoman harem? Primary texts will include travelers who write in Franco-Venetian, Spanish, French, Italian, and English, in works by Marco Polo, Christopher Columbus, Montaigne, Jean de Léry, Claude Levi-Strauss, Lady Mary Wortley Montagu, Cristina Trivulzio di Belgioioso,
Pierre Loti, Pier Paolo Pasolini, Antonio Tabucchi, Pap Khouma, Amara Lakhous, and Jhumpa Lahiri. Secondary works by Edward Said, Michel Foucault, Stephen Greenblatt, Homi Bhabha, Georges Van den Abbeele, Ali Behdad, Joseph Boone, Srinivas Aravamudan, Sara Mills, Lisa Lowe, Eric Dursteler, Peter Hulme, Leslie Pierce, Caren Kaplan, Reina Lewis, and Aamir Mufti. The course will be conducted as a seminar. Students will be required to give one in-class presentation, and write a research paper of 25-30 pages.