WESTERN TRAVELERS TO GREECE: From Lord Byron to Patrick Leigh Fermor
Today we travel to exotic places in order to encounter a culture different than ours and to experience another way of life. In the nineteenth century Western travelers would go to Greece for the same reasons, namely in order to encounter a distant, ‘exotic’ place of the intriguing Orient, which had fired their curiosity, or to have a first-hand experience of the land of the Olympian gods that had captured their imagination. Other travelers visited Greece to study its antiquities, while the more adventurous ones, such as Lord Byron, went there in order to participate in the Greek War of Independence. And, some traveled to Greece simply because they were fascinated by its history, its ambiguous geographical position between East and West, and its liminal position between past and present. This course focuses on the perceptions and representations of Greece by nineteenth and twentieth-century European and American travelers, and it explores their impact on modern Greek history and the construction of modern Greek identity. The course discusses major as well as minor voices in the history of travel writing on Greece, it examines the relation of their travelogues with the discourses of Hellenism and orientalism, and it places them in the contexts of colonialism and imperialism. It also explores the role of gender in travel writing, by focusing on travel texts written by women, who offer a representation of Greece and its inhabitants different than that sketched by male travelers. Students get the opportunity to study key texts and themes in nineteenth-century travel literature alongside certain topics in Modern Greek History. Also, they get the chance to strengthen their writing and analytical skills by writing papers in which they will critically engage with primary and secondary written sources.