Narratives of Estrangement: Travel and Travel Writing, 1750-1980 ENGLIT5128

  • Academic Session: 2023-24
  • School: School of Critical Studies
  • Credits: 20
  • Level: Level 5 (SCQF level 11)
  • Typically Offered: Either Semester 1 or Semester 2
  • Available to Visiting Students: Yes

Short Description

Travel writing was one of the dominant forms of writing to emerge from Europe's era of colonial expansion between c.1700 to the 1960s, engaging with issues of empire and nation, race and ethnicity, gender and aesthetics, tourism and migration, war and environmental concerns. The course encompasses a wide range of different texts and genres from anglophone and other literary traditions (in translation), analysing 'narratives of estrangement',  describing encounters with foreign and domestic places and peoples, from the Scottish Highlands to the islands of the Pacific. The course addresses colonial and anti-colonial travel writing by both canonical and marginal male and female writers, drawing especially on the rich collection of travel literature in Glasgow University's Special Collections. 


10 x  2-hour seminars as scheduled on MyCampus

Requirements of Entry

Standard entry to Masters at College level.

Excluded Courses



1. Mid-term exercise in the form of: a dictionary entry on a travel-related concept OR a report on a travel account not included in the course reading list OR an annotated plan for a travel writing anthology, incl. rationale and full table of contents (1500 words; weighted 30%)

2. Final essay (3500 words; weighted 70%)

Course Aims

This course aims to:

■ Familiarise students with the development of travel writing in the period 1700-1968, building on any previous experience they may have;

■ Enable students to understand the different modalities of travel writing in this period, in relation to colonial and post-colonial histories and geographies;

■ Encourage students to engage critically with questions of genre, periodicity and canonicity;

■ Introduce students to a wide range of secondary critical literature on travel writing;

■ Introduce students to the rich collection of travel books in Glasgow's special collections, and familiarise them with their various formats, illustrations, and publishing history.

Intended Learning Outcomes of Course

By the end of this course students will be able to:

■ Analyse relationships between travel writing and colonial and post-colonial histories and geographies;

■ Critically engage with a range of different travel narratives written by men and women, both European and non-European, across the period 1700-1968;

■ Articulate connections and contrasts between narratives of foreign places and peoples in different parts of the world;

■ Use special collections, museum holdings and digital archives for postgraduate research;

■ Assess a wide range of critical and theoretical approaches to travel writing;

■ Frame arguments effectively in speech and in writing at an advanced level.

Minimum Requirement for Award of Credits

Students must submit at least 75% by weight of the components (including examinations) of the course's summative assessment.