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Travel Writing in the Pre-Modern Mediterranean

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Term
Subject Code
COMPLIT
Course Number
119
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Travel Writing in the Pre-Modern Mediterranean

The rihla, or voyage, was an important part of many intellectuals¿ development in the pre-modern Arabophone world. This journey was understood not to mean just the physical displacement of a scholar over land and sea and as essential for his acquisition of knowledge at the feet of the foremost scholars of his day, but also as a metaphor for change, adventure, and intellectual development. Rihla also came to refer to texts written about these journeys, emerging in the 12th century as a term used to refer to a genre of travel writing¿a grouping of narratives which will be the focus of our class. Readings will be drawn from such Arabic texts as Ibn Battuta¿s Rihla, Ibn Khaldun¿s Muqaddimah, and al-Ghassani¿s Rihlat al-Wazir, as well as selections of European travel writing such as Marco Polo¿s Travels. Emphasis, where possible, will be placed on continuing to develop the skills to read these texts in the original Arabic, including grammar, dictionary use, voweling, and translation.