It’s easy to plan a trip by thinking, “well, students won’t want to spend all two weeks in Venice, so we’d better throw in some side excursions and take them down to Florence to make sure we attract enough to ‘make’ the class.” And that kind of pragmatic planning can’t be ignored. But I dipped into the academic literature on travel courses today and quickly found “Travel as Performed Art” by Judith Adler, which offers another way in which to consider travel planning:
Travel undertaken and executed with a primary concern for the meanings discovered, created, and communicated as persons move through geographical space in stylistically specified ways can be distinguished from travel in which geographical movement is merely incidental to the accomplishment of other goals. Whether skillfully fulfilling the conventions of a canonized tradition without any deviation, deliberately challenging received norms, or being led through the motions of a “packaged” performance designed and sold by others, the traveler whose activity lends itself to conceptual treatment as art is one whose movement serves as a medium for bestowing meaning on the self and the social, natural, or metaphysical realities through which it moves. Performed as an art, travel becomes one means of “worldmaking” […] and of self-fashioning. (p. 1368, emphasis added)
In an ideal world where cost was no object, Terry and I would have loved to create a “Grand Tour” class, which would be the “conventions of a canonized tradition” version mentioned above. As it is, we’re offering something more pop-culture, the “‘packaged’ performance,” although I hope that by involving students directly in artistic process and requiring an active, ongoing level of meaning-making, we can turn the process itself into art.
This is something to keep thinking about as we plan….
Source: The American Journal of Sociology, Vol. 94, No. 6 (May, 1989), pp. 1366-1391 Published by: The University of Chicago Press. Online: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2780963