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- Examine the
criteria that Samuel Johnson uses to describe
the "useful traveller" in Idler No.
97 (1760). What are the qualities of effective
travel writing in Johnson's view? Would
the much earlier travel narratives of Celia
Fiennes and Lady Mary Wortley Montagu meet
Johnson's expectations? Why or why not?
- Explain, with reference
to Samuel Johnson's Idler No.
97, what qualities you believe to be present
in good travel writing, using either modern
or eighteenth-century examples to support
- Joseph Pitts's narrative, A
True and Faithful Account of the Religion
and Manners of the Mohammetans (1704),
is written for an audience with a significant
prejudice against the religious practices
he describes. In your opinion, does Pitts
accommodate this prejudice, or does he
attempt to modify it? What techniques does
Pitts employ to accomplish his rhetorical
- The history of the pirate
Blackbeard (also known as Edward Thatch)
written by "Captain Charles Johnson" simultaneously
glorifies and vilifies its "hero." Describe
the imagery the writer uses in each case,
and explain why you believe it to be effective.
- Compare the reading on
Blackbeard with the excerpt from Daniel Defoe's
novel Roxana (NAEL 8, 1.2289–94). What stylistic similarities
or differences do you perceive in these two
pieces of writing? Could you build the case
that Defoe may be the author of A General
History of the Robberies and Murders of the
Most Notorious Pyrates, using observations
concerning syntax, diction, and style to
substantiate your argument?
- In what ways would your
perception of the article on Blackbeard in A
General History change if you knew that
a) Daniel Defoe was the author? b) Captain
Charles Johnson was a real sea captain, and
not a fictitious persona?
- Consider the dialogue of "Common
Talk in an Inn" in the Gentleman's
Pocket Companion. Although this dialogue
can be read vertically, to form a narrative,
it is also meant to be pulled apart into
smaller syntactic units. Each horizontal
line contains one phrase; each vertical column
gives the same short phrase in five different
languages. The idea behind the guide is that
you could arrange these phrases into new
sentences in order to communicate. Try rearranging
phrases from the English dialogue given to
form new sentences. How effective is this
as a tool for communication? What would you
add to improve the guide?
How might this dialogue change today? What dialogues are now "necessary
"Please turn off
your cell phones
and laptop computers.
They have been shown
to interfere with
- What words would be included
in a modern lexicon of travel? Make your
own collection. Organize your words in the
same fashion as those included in Samuel
Johnson's 1755 Dictionary of the English
Language; i.e., include the proper (and
variant) spelling, pronunciation, etymological
source, definition, and an example of usage
from "the best Writers."
- After reading the translations
of Persian and Sanskrit poetry by Sir William
Jones and Nathaniel Brassey Halhed, write
a translator's statement of your own,
explaining what you feel are the most important
elements to preserve or change in a poetic
translation. Which of the following elements
is most important to preserve in a poetic
translation, in your opinion: original form,
rhyme scheme, metre, diction, or theme? Extra
research: find a poem that has been translated
in at least two versions, and explain which
you find to be the better translation, and
- Has our idea of what makes
an effective poetic translation changed over
time? Compare Seamus Heaney's statement
concerning his translation of Beowulf with
the translators' statements given in
the introduction to the articles on Sir William
Jones and Nathaniel Brassey Halhed.
- Oliver Goldsmith writes
the letters of The Citizen of the World (1760–1761)
from the imagined perspective of a Chinese
philosopher. Is Goldsmith's satire more
trenchant because it comes from an outsider's
perspective? Compare this reading to Jonathan
Swift's satire, A Modest Proposal (NAEL 8, 1.2462–68),
- Does James Cook's
description of the diplomatic negotiations
with the natives of Tahiti following the
desertion of two of his crew demonstrate
an awareness of the delicacy of the situation?
In your view, does Cook attempt to view the
situation from all sides, or is he more concerned
about the pragmatic task of regaining his
crew? Using a close reading of Cook's
journal as your guide, speculate on the ideas
the Tahitians may have formed of Cook and
his crew. You may wish to compare this reading
to the earlier account of Martin Frobisher's
voyage to the Arctic.
- The excerpt from George
Vancouver's A Voyage of Discovery
to the North Pacific Ocean (1798) describes
coastal surveying in progress. Does Vancouver's
assumption that the local peoples have been
trading with inland natives seem logical
to you, given the evidence he presents? Why
might the discovery that coastal natives
trade with other indigenous groups be important
to Vancouver, or to other traders?
- In what ways does George
Vancouver's account of his contact with
indigenous coastal peoples romanticize these
peoples and the landscape that surrounds
them? You may find it helpful to read the
Introduction to "The Romantic Period" (NAEL 8, 2.1–22) before commencing your analysis.
- Compare two paragraphs
from each of James Cook's (unrevised)
journal and George Vancouver's Voyage
of Discovery, which was revised for publication.
What differences do you observe in terms
of vocabulary, sentence structure, register,
and style? Further research: examine William
Dampier's much earlier exploration narrative, A
New Voyage Round the World (1697), and
add an example of his work to your analysis.
- The excerpt from Celia
Fiennes's Journeys describes her "water
cure" in St. Mungo's Well. Does
Fiennes privilege the language of science
or the language of faith in her account?
- Make a travel journal
of your exploration through these readings.
You may arrange your journal chronologically,
geographically, or by some other method;
in terms of narrative style, you may choose
to imitate James Cook's journals, Lady
Mary Wortley Montagu's letters, or Celia
Fiennes's reflective compilation. Which
of the travel narratives in this section
is your favorite, and why? In what ways did
your initial reactions to some readings change?