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  1. Examine the criteria that Samuel Johnson uses to describe the "useful traveller" in Idler No. 97 (1760). What are the qualities of effective travel writing in Johnson's view? Would the much earlier travel narratives of Celia Fiennes and Lady Mary Wortley Montagu meet Johnson's expectations? Why or why not?
  2. Explain, with reference to Samuel Johnson's Idler No. 97, what qualities you believe to be present in good travel writing, using either modern or eighteenth-century examples to support your argument.
  3. Joseph Pitts's narrative, A True and Faithful Account of the Religion and Manners of the Mohammetans (1704), is written for an audience with a significant prejudice against the religious practices he describes. In your opinion, does Pitts accommodate this prejudice, or does he attempt to modify it? What techniques does Pitts employ to accomplish his rhetorical aims?
  4. The history of the pirate Blackbeard (also known as Edward Thatch) written by "Captain Charles Johnson" simultaneously glorifies and vilifies its "hero." Describe the imagery the writer uses in each case, and explain why you believe it to be effective.
  5. Compare the reading on Blackbeard with the excerpt from Daniel Defoe's novel Roxana (NAEL 8, 1.2289–94). What stylistic similarities or differences do you perceive in these two pieces of writing? Could you build the case that Defoe may be the author of A General History of the Robberies and Murders of the Most Notorious Pyrates, using observations concerning syntax, diction, and style to substantiate your argument?
  6. In what ways would your perception of the article on Blackbeard in A General History change if you knew that a) Daniel Defoe was the author? b) Captain Charles Johnson was a real sea captain, and not a fictitious persona?
  7. Consider the dialogue of "Common Talk in an Inn" in the Gentleman's Pocket Companion. Although this dialogue can be read vertically, to form a narrative, it is also meant to be pulled apart into smaller syntactic units. Each horizontal line contains one phrase; each vertical column gives the same short phrase in five different languages. The idea behind the guide is that you could arrange these phrases into new sentences in order to communicate. Try rearranging phrases from the English dialogue given to form new sentences. How effective is this as a tool for communication? What would you add to improve the guide?


    How might this dialogue change today? What dialogues are now "necessary to travellers"?

    "Please turn off
    your cell phones
    and laptop computers.
    They have been shown
    to interfere with
    navigational devices."]
  8. What words would be included in a modern lexicon of travel? Make your own collection. Organize your words in the same fashion as those included in Samuel Johnson's 1755 Dictionary of the English Language; i.e., include the proper (and variant) spelling, pronunciation, etymological source, definition, and an example of usage from "the best Writers."
  9. After reading the translations of Persian and Sanskrit poetry by Sir William Jones and Nathaniel Brassey Halhed, write a translator's statement of your own, explaining what you feel are the most important elements to preserve or change in a poetic translation. Which of the following elements is most important to preserve in a poetic translation, in your opinion: original form, rhyme scheme, metre, diction, or theme? Extra research: find a poem that has been translated in at least two versions, and explain which you find to be the better translation, and why.
  10. Has our idea of what makes an effective poetic translation changed over time? Compare Seamus Heaney's statement concerning his translation of Beowulf with the translators' statements given in the introduction to the articles on Sir William Jones and Nathaniel Brassey Halhed.
  11. Oliver Goldsmith writes the letters of The Citizen of the World (1760–1761) from the imagined perspective of a Chinese philosopher. Is Goldsmith's satire more trenchant because it comes from an outsider's perspective? Compare this reading to Jonathan Swift's satire, A Modest Proposal (NAEL 8, 1.2462–68), and discuss.
  12. Does James Cook's description of the diplomatic negotiations with the natives of Tahiti following the desertion of two of his crew demonstrate an awareness of the delicacy of the situation? In your view, does Cook attempt to view the situation from all sides, or is he more concerned about the pragmatic task of regaining his crew? Using a close reading of Cook's journal as your guide, speculate on the ideas the Tahitians may have formed of Cook and his crew. You may wish to compare this reading to the earlier account of Martin Frobisher's voyage to the Arctic.
  13. The excerpt from George Vancouver's A Voyage of Discovery to the North Pacific Ocean (1798) describes coastal surveying in progress. Does Vancouver's assumption that the local peoples have been trading with inland natives seem logical to you, given the evidence he presents? Why might the discovery that coastal natives trade with other indigenous groups be important to Vancouver, or to other traders?
  14. In what ways does George Vancouver's account of his contact with indigenous coastal peoples romanticize these peoples and the landscape that surrounds them? You may find it helpful to read the Introduction to "The Romantic Period" (NAEL 8, 2.1–22) before commencing your analysis.
  15. Compare two paragraphs from each of James Cook's (unrevised) journal and George Vancouver's Voyage of Discovery, which was revised for publication. What differences do you observe in terms of vocabulary, sentence structure, register, and style? Further research: examine William Dampier's much earlier exploration narrative, A New Voyage Round the World (1697), and add an example of his work to your analysis.
  16. The excerpt from Celia Fiennes's Journeys describes her "water cure" in St. Mungo's Well. Does Fiennes privilege the language of science or the language of faith in her account? Discuss.
  17. Make a travel journal of your exploration through these readings. You may arrange your journal chronologically, geographically, or by some other method; in terms of narrative style, you may choose to imitate James Cook's journals, Lady Mary Wortley Montagu's letters, or Celia Fiennes's reflective compilation. Which of the travel narratives in this section is your favorite, and why? In what ways did your initial reactions to some readings change?

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