Travel for Discovery

“Though we travel the world over to find the beautiful, we must carry it with us, or we find it not.” ― Ralph Waldo Emerson, Essays, XII, Art.

“The only true voyage of discovery, the only fountain of Eternal Youth, would be not to visit strange lands but to possess other eyes.” ― Marcel Proust, In search of Lost Time.

“Why do you go away? So that you can come back. So that you can see the place you came from with new eyes and extra colors. And the people there see you differently, too. Coming back to where you started is not the same as never leaving.” ― Terry Pratchett, A Hat Full of Sky.

Inside the Classroom

Throughout history, travel has consistently shaped the course of human events and has been central to the development of our sense of identity—both as individuals and as communities. This course will address the rich and complex discourses surrounding travel and discovery. What has it meant and what does it still mean to travel? In this context, students will also engage the closely related idea of “discovery." What makes something “new” or worth knowing? To what degree is what is “discovered” contingent on its factual existence or on our ability to perceive it? What is the relationship between objective and subjective discoveries?

  • Through this course, students will acquire an understanding of how the significance and meaning of travel and discovery has changed in the course of time by investigating ancient, modern, and contemporary works of literature, of art, and cinema.
  • Students will also acquire a familiarity with theoretical, philosophical, and critical works that offer different methodological approaches to the study of travel and discovery.
  • Students will develop their abilities to write critical and analytical works that will engage their readings for the course.
  • This course is not only intended to help students develop intellectually, but personally as well. In this sense students will be thinking about what journey they are on and what kinds of discoveries they are interested in or open to.

Outside the Classroom

This SSIR will travel near and far, geographically and historically. We will have a one-day trip to Jamestown settlement, where the first settlers arrived in 1607. Over the Thanksgiving break, the community will travel to Rome, Italy, cradle of our Western civilization. The journeys undertaken in the Aeneid and The Divine Comedy are in some ways paradigms for subsequent journeys in Western Literature, and both are centrally concerned with Rome. Students will have an opportunity to visit all the places, we will be exploring in our class. During the stay, they will also meet with scholars from local universities to discuss some of the topics on travel and discovery. The community will also spend one night in Istanbul, Turkey and explore ancient areas of Constantinople.

Research and Capstone Project

During the course of the year, students will keep a diary in which they will express their responses to the books, movies, paintings we will have analyzed in class. In addition, students will relate their class readings or viewing experiences to their own “travels” and “discoveries”—whether local or more wide-ranging—which they will embark on during the course of the year.

This class will also have a community-based learning component. We will partner with Rubicon organization.

In the Spring semester students will work in a group to transform their thoughts into whatever mode of representation best suits their talents and abilities. They might present a video, an art work, a newly composed song, an original essay or whatever their talents inspire them to do. In all cases, students’ final product will have to demonstrate rigor of thought and execution. All works will be presented at an SSIR ad-hoc symposium at the end of the Spring semester or at the Undergraduate Research Symposium in a session dedicated to our SSIR.