ENG 360 – The Grand Tour Then and Now

  • Discipline(s): Creative Writing, English, History

  • Credits: 3

  • Available: spring semester 2024

  • Instructor: Claudia Portogallo Ph.D.

  • Taught in: English

Course description

The Grand Tour – Revisited is an engaging and intellectually stimulating interdisciplinary course that delves into the historical importance and contemporary relevance of the Grand Tour—a transformative expedition undertaken by young adults from the 17th to the 19th centuries. Through a comprehensive and critical exploration of this pivotal period in travel history, coupled with a multi-perspective examination of modern study abroad experiences, students will gain profound insights into the realms of Critical Reception Studies, Early Modern and Modern European History, but also the evolution of travel and the complexities of Coming of Age as a literary and artistic trope and a deeply personal experience. Students will be enabled to look at their experience of studying abroad against the backdrop of a rich and complex cultural history of what it meant to step into the realm of adulthood.

“A story is true, only when it is complete.” Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Opening Speech of the Humboldtforum, 22.09.2021

Course objectives

Historical Context and Significance

  • Students will analyze the socio-political and cultural milieu that gave rise to the Grand Tour, tracing its roots from the 17th century to the early 19th century.
  • Students will evaluate the transformative impact of the Grand Tour on the intellectual and cultural landscape of Europe during this era.

Comparative Analysis: Past and Present

  • Students will engage in a critical examination of the similarities and disparities between the Grand Tour and contemporary study abroad programs.
  • Students will explore the motives, expectations, and experiences of travelers from the past and present through primary sources and first-hand accounts.

Cultural Exploration and Adaptation

  • Students will critically examine the Grand Tourists’ perspectives. They will ponder questions such as: “Who had the privilege to embark on these journeys? What criteria defined an attraction? And who held the authority in determining what constituted a noteworthy destination?” This inquiry will offer valuable insights into the socio-cultural dynamics of travel during that era.
  • Students will scrutinize the inquiries about the Grand Tourists’ viewpoints, utilizing them as a lens to assess their own holistic personal growth and development. This introspective process encourages a critical reflection on the transformative potential of travel experiences, fostering a deeper understanding of self- and cross-cultural awareness.

Personal Development and Enlightenment

  • Students will examine the intellectual, artistic, and personal growth that young adults experienced during the Grand Tour.
  • Students will evaluate the transformative potential of study abroad experiences in fostering adaptability, self-awareness, and cross-cultural competence in contemporary students.

Evolution of Travel

  • Students will trace the evolution of travel infrastructure, technology, and modes of transportation from the Grand Tour era to the present day.
  • Students will investigate the impact of globalization, digital connectivity, and accessibility on the contemporary travel experience.

Ethical Considerations and Global Citizenship

  • Students will reflect on the ethical implications of travel, considering issues such as cultural appropriation, sustainable tourism, and responsible engagement with host communities.
  • Students will encourage critical thinking and dialogue around the responsibilities of global citizens and universal humanism in an interconnected world.

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