ENGLI301-19B (HAM)

Genre Studies: Challenging Forms

15 Points

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Division of Arts Law Psychology & Social Sciences
School of Arts


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: alexandra.cullen@waikato.ac.nz

Placement Coordinator(s)


Student Representative(s)

Lab Technician(s)


: anne.ferrier-watson@waikato.ac.nz

You can contact staff by:

  • Calling +64 7 838 4466 select option 1, then enter the extension.
  • Extensions starting with 4, 5, 9 or 3 can also be direct dialled:
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    • For extensions starting with 3: dial +64 7 2620 + the last 3 digits of the extension e.g. 3123 = +64 7 262 0123.
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Paper Description

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This course defines travel writing in a very broad way, and will encompass anthropology, memoir, history, art and architecture, fiction, and will explore the different facets of what most of us would call conventional travel writing.

We will look at some of the preeminent practitioners of travel writing, and delve into what makes their work rise above a simple guidebook or travelogue.

Through regular in-class exercises, and more formal essays, you will have a chance to demonstrate your understanding of the material and to practise your own travel writing skills.

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Paper Structure

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This paper consists of one two-hour lecture (Wednesday at 10:00 am) and two one-hour workshop (Wednesday at 4:00 pmand Thursday at 10:00 am). Students are expected to attend all lectures and their respective workshops, and will sign in at both lecture and workshop each week.

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Learning Outcomes

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Students who successfully complete the course should be able to:


    • Identify major writers, trends, eras and approaches in travel writing.

    • Develop skills in close reading, research, and academic and creative writing.

    • Demonstrate understanding of different modes and technical specifics of travel writing (fiction and nonwriting).

    • Understand theoretical, historical and ethical issues related to travel writing.

    Linked to the following assessments:
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Ten weekly creative and critical writing exercises (up to 100 words each)20
In-Class Quizzes25
Essay One (1500 words).20
Final Portfolio: Essay Two (2500 words) + revised exercises (100 words each)35

Weekly creative and critical writing exercises = 20 %

Each week in workshop you will receive instructions for an exercise to be submitted at the following week’s lecture. These will be date stamped on receipt at the lecture theatre.

In workshops, you will discuss (as a group) some of these exercises, and then peer review (in pairs) the remaining exercises.

You need to retain the original, with its date stamp and any comments, to include in your final portfolio. Anyone not present in their workshop will receive no comments on their exercises.

In-Class Quizzes = 25 %

During at least six of the lectures you will be given a short quiz on that week’s assigned reading. Some quizzes may be open book, so please bring your course reader and relevant set text to every class.

Essay One = 20 %

A 1500-word essay. Questions will be circulated in Week Three.

Due date: Weds 21 August (online: submit through Moodle)

Final Portfolio = 35 %

This includes:

- A 2500-word essay. Questions will be circulated in Week Eight.

- All ten originals of your weekly exercises and ten revisions.

Due date: Weds 23 October (online: submit essay through Moodle and exercises/revisions on paper)

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Assessment Components

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The internal assessment/exam ratio (as stated in the University Calendar) is 100:0. There is no final exam. The final exam makes up 0% of the overall mark.

The internal assessment/exam ratio (as stated in the University Calendar) is 100:0 or 0:0, whichever is more favourable for the student. The final exam makes up either 0% or 0% of the overall mark.

Component DescriptionDue Date TimePercentage of overall markSubmission MethodCompulsory
1. Weekly creative and critical writing exercises (assigned in workshops)
  • Hand-in: In Lecture
2. In-class Quizzes
  • Hand-in: In Tutorial
3. Essay 1
21 Aug 2019
10:00 AM
  • Online: Submit through Moodle
4. Essay 2/Final Portfolio
23 Oct 2019
10:00 AM
  • Other: Essay: Moodle; Exercises/revision: On paper
Assessment Total:     100    
Failing to complete a compulsory assessment component of a paper will result in an IC grade
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Required and Recommended Readings

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Required Readings

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Trieste and the Meaning of Nowhereby Jan Morris

Travels with Herodotusby Ryszard Kapuscinski

Flaneuse: Women Walk the City by Lauren Elkin

All other required readings are in the course book or, because of copyright reasons, are available online only. (Please note that these online-only readings are clearly marked.) The readings are also digitised and available via Waikato Reading Lists. You need to bring your course book with you to every lecture and workshop — we will be referring to the texts throughout, and you will not have access via laptop, tablet or mobile. You should also bring the relevant required text if we are discussing it that week.


Week 1: Introduction and Modes of Writing
• The Lady and the Monk: Four Seasons in Kyotoby Pico Iyer [excerpt: p. 6]
• Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden [excerpt: pp. 34-36]
• Walking New Orleans by Barri Bronston [excerpt: p. 31]
• An Unfinished Woman: A Memoir by Lillian Hellman [excerpt: pp. 23–24]
• Mosquitoes by William Faulkner [excerpt: pp. 14–15]
• Berlin: Imagine a City by Rory MacLean [excerpt: pp. 1–3]
• Goodbye to Berlin by Christopher Isherwood [excerpt: pp. 230–231]
• Lonely Planet Goa & Mumbai by Paul Harding, Abigail Blasi, Trent Holden and Iain Stewart [excerpt: p. 38]
• Behind the Beautiful Forevers: Life, Death and Hope in a Mumbai Undercity by Katherine Boo [excerpt: p. 5]
• Midnight’s Children by Salman Rushdie [excerpt: pp. 142–143]
• Explorer’s Guide Kansas by Lisa Waterman Grey [excerpt: pp. 12–13]
• In Cold Blood by Truman Capote [excerpt: pp. 3–5]
• The Ice Harvestby Scott Phillips [excerpt: pp. 9–10]

‘Walking In Gion’ from https://www.insidekyoto.com/walking-in-gion
‘Berlin’ from https://www.roughguides.com/destinations/europe/germany/berlin-and-brandenburg/berlin/

Week 2: Voyages: History of Travel Writing
Set Text:
• Travels With Herodotus by Ryszard Kapuscinski [Chapters 1–4; pp 3–49]

• The Travels by Marco Polo [excerpt: pp. 3–16]
• Invisible Cities by Italo Calvino [excerpt: pp. 5–18]
• Life on the Mississippi by Mark Twain [Chapters 4–6]

Week 3: Creative Nonfiction: Writing About Place
Set Text:
• Flaneuse: Women Walk the City in Paris, New York, Tokyo, Venice and London [excerpt: pp. 1–37]

• South and West: From a Notebook by Joan Didion [excerpt: pp. 5–16]
• The Control of Nature by John McPhee [excerpt: pp. 3–15]
• Travels with Myself and Another by Martha Gellhorn {excerpt: pp. 1–8]
• Granite Island: A Portrait of Corsica by Dorothy Carrington [excerpt: pp. 133–139]
• ‘Billy the Kid’ in False River by Paula Morris [excerpt: pp. 154–165]

Week 4: Lost in Translation: Ethics and Points of View
• The Happy Isles of Oceania: Paddling the Pacific by Paul Theroux [excerpt: pp. 3–29]
• Songlines by Bruce Chatwin [excerpt: pp. 11–15]
• In Patagonia by Bruce Chatwin [excerpt: pp. 5–6]

‘Crossing the Border: Bruce Chatwin and Paul Theroux’ from https://www.jstor.org/stable/41957174?seq=1#page_scan_tab_contents
‘Lost in Translation’ from https://www.noted.co.nz/archive/listener-nz-2008/lost-in-translation/

Week 5: Outsiders and Insiders
Set text:
• Flaneuse: Women Walk the City in Paris, New York, Tokyo, Venice and London
[excerpts: pp. 38–68; pp. 95–122; pp. 185–244]


Letter from Cairo: Tales of the Trash’, The New Yorker by Peter Hessler
• Autumn Light: Japan’s Season of Fires and Farewells by Pico Iyer [excerpts: pp. 50–52; pp. 113– 122]

Week 6: Teaching Recess Week

Week 7: Teaching Recess Week

Week 8: Conversations with the Past
Set text:
• Travels with Herodotus
[excerpt: 73–107]

‘Stranger in the Village’ in Notes of a Native Son by James Baldwin [pp. 163–172]
‘Black Body’ in Known and Strange Things by Teju Cole [pp. 3–16]

Week 9: Narrative and Theory
‘My Family’s Slave’, The New Yorker by Alex Tizon
‘Mapping Home’, The Atlantic by Aleksandar Hemon

‘Driving to Treblinka: Extract from Ockham Award-winning writer Diana Wichtel, https://www.nzherald.co.nz/travel/news/article.cfm?c_id=7&objectid=12052699

Week 10: Writing Home: Dissecting Contemporary New Zealand
‘Man on Fire’ from Tell You What: Great New Zealand Nonfiction 2016 by Steve Braunias

‘Ear to the Ground’ by Nic Low,
‘What’s In a Name?’ by Melanie Kwang, https://www.thethreelamps.com/article/whats-in-a-name?publication=spring-2017

Week 11: Case Study: Venice
Set text:
Flaneuse: Women Walk the City in Paris, New York, Tokyo, Venice and London
[excerpt: pp. 122–147]

• The World of Venice by Jan Morris [excerpt: pp. 111–116]
• The City of Falling Angels by John Berendt [excerpt: pp. 1 – 12]
• Venice Observed by Mary McCarthy [excerpt: pp. 1 – 6]
• The Stones of Venice by John Ruskin [excerpt: pp. 123 – 126]
• Untold Stories by Alan Bennett [excerpt: pp. 183 – 184]

Week 12: Case Study: Road Trips
• On the Road by Jack Kerouac [excerpt: pp. 8–17]
• From Sea to Shining Sea by Gavin Young [excerpt: pp. 161–176]
• The Lost Continent by Bill Bryson [excerpt: pp. 3-21]
‘With Fellini’ from Reporting Always by Lilian Ross[pp. 301–307]
• The Motorcycle Diaries
by Ernesto Che Guevara [excerpt: pp. 31–39]
• A Time of Gifts by Patrick Leigh Fermor [excerpt: pp. 32–40]

Week 13: Place and Identity
Set Texts:
Jan Morris, Trieste and the Meaning of Nowhere
Ryszard Kapuscinski, Travels with Herodotus

• Last Days in Old Europeby Richard Bassett [excerpt: pp. 1–12]

Week 14: Writing Bootcamp
Reading to be set

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Recommended Readings

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There is a universe of worthwhile texts in this genre, and I will mention many of them during lectures and workshops. In addition, your library and extremely friendly and helpful librarians are invaluable resources.
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Online Support

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This course is supported through Moodle, where you can access course outline, assessment tasks and other material.

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You should expect to spend nine hours each week on work for this course, including three hours of class time (two hours lecture plus one hour workshop). Your time outside the class should be spent reading and writing. None of the required books or course book elements are long or onerous to read, and you are expected to arrive at lectures having completed — and considered — all the reading in advance.

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Linkages to Other Papers

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Restricted papers: ENGL220, ENGL309

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