In our recent readings and videos, we’ve been hearing a lot of ideas about the relative balance–and impact–of personal perspective expressed in travel writing (i.e. writing that focuses on people/places outside of the author’s own home community). For instance, this week we saw Carl Thompson track a number of patterns that have historically influenced travel writing, including the inevitable impact of personal perspective, which he ultimately argues can be useful because it reveals certain assumptions–whether authorial or cultural–that we might not otherwise be aware of. On the other hand, Edward Said’s ideas about orientalism very specifically warn us about the ways that each “self” uses its own perspective to define “others”–often in ways that can be detrimental.
What do you think? Is it ok to express personal perspectives and/or opinions in writing that focuses on other people/places? If so, what are some ways of doing this kind of thing well, so as to avoid the kinds of problems that Said is worried about?
As your create your 150-200 word response, please be sure to include at least one quote/reference from our readings/videos this week
Readings & Videos
David Sedaris, “What’s Funny About America” (Links to an external site.)(video)
Derek Sivers, “Weird, or Just Different?” (Links to an external site.) (video)
Edward Said “Orientalism: An Introduction” (Links to an external site.) & “Orientalism Explained” (Links to an external site.) (videos)
Alford, “Appointment in Istanbul” (Links to an external site.) (article)
Fields, “Cairo Tunnel (Links to an external site.)” (article)