HI5053 - Travel Writing and Tourism in Modern Britain and Ireland

What will I learn on this module?

In this module you will discover how the histories of travel and tourism are deeply connected to the making of modern Britain and Ireland. You will explore the history of tourism from its eighteenth-century origins, when seaside towns and spas welcomed their first visitors and British and Irish aristocrats embarked on Grand Tours of Europe. You will learn how British and Irish landscapes were made iconic by Romantic writers, and how the development of steamships, railways, roads, bicycles, and motor travel revolutionised the way in which journeys were experienced and narrated.

You will discover how the royal tourism of Queen Victoria and her descendants helped strengthen the political union of the United Kingdom, and how the tourism industry forged cross-border links, promoted cooperation, and encouraged dialogue between Northern Ireland and the Irish Free State after the Partition of Ireland in 1921. You will also learn how tourism was connected to the expansion of the British Empire, as travellers on Thomas Cook’s tours followed missionaries, traders, and empire builders to the Middle East, Africa, and India.

You will learn about key concepts and debates in the history of tourism, such as mobility, authenticity, landscape and place, gender, post-colonialism, the interaction of ‘hosts’ and ‘guests’, and the growing importance of travel as part of individual and national identity. You will engage with a wide variety of primary source material, from personal travel accounts, guidebooks, and timetables to the rich visual and material culture of postcards, illustrations, paintings, photographs, and poster artwork.

How will I learn on this module?

You will learn through a combination of lectures and seminars. The lectures will introduce the broader chronological developments in the history of travel writing and tourism, and the central themes and concepts. You will learn about the different approaches to the study of travel writing and tourism, both within the discipline of history and in literary studies, heritage studies, and historical geography. We will apply the concept of performance to understand travel as a form of self-fashioning and to understand interactions between ‘hosts’ and ‘guests’. We will consider insights from literary studies when we analyse the development of travel writing as a diverse genre, from personal travel narratives to the proliferation of guidebooks such as Murray’s and Baedeker’s.

You will prepare for the seminars by completing essential and recommended reading, which will include primary source material. You will be asked to prepare a short, informal presentation to the class during one week, exploring travel accounts, visual sources, or other primary material. You will be given the opportunity to visit Hadrian’s Wall on a class field trip, in which you will explore the connections between landscape, the heritage industry, and tourism. The seminars will consist of small group and whole class discussions, in which you will engage in primary source analysis. Learning materials, tasks, and readings will be available on Blackboard. You will receive formative feedback throughout the learning process, and the summative assessment will match your learning against the learning outcomes for the module.

How will I be supported academically on this module?

On this module you will be supported throughout by your module tutor, the programme leader, and through engagement with your peers. The module tutor will be available on a weekly basis during scheduled feedback and consultation hours, and also by email. In the classroom, your peers will contribute to a collaborative learning environment, and you will be guided through the requirements and expectations of the module by the programme leader. Formative feedback will be provided during the weekly seminars and assessment tasks.

What will I be expected to read on this module?

All modules at Northumbria include a range of reading materials that students are expected to engage with. The reading list for this module can be found at: http://readinglists.northumbria.ac.uk
(Reading List service online guide for academic staff this containing contact details for the Reading List team – http://library.northumbria.ac.uk/readinglists)

What will I be expected to achieve?

Knowledge & Understanding:
1. Knowledge and understanding of how travel writing and tourism shaped modern Britain and Ireland; awareness of important historiographical developments; knowledge of the historical sources that help us understand the history of travel and tourism.
2. A critical understanding of conceptual and theoretical categories that relate to these themes.

Intellectual / Professional skills & abilities:
3. Demonstrate a range of transferable skills, including the ability to make independent critical judgements, to critically evaluate sources, to summarise the research of others, to present arguments in a cogent and persuasive way, and to understand contemporary debates around tourism in their historical context.

Personal Values Attributes (Global / Cultural awareness, Ethics, Curiosity) (PVA):
4. Engagement with ethical questions around tourism and economic relations, including topics relating to empire and postcolonialism. Consideration of ethical questions around travel writing and the description of peoples and places, including topics relating to race, gender and class.

How will I be assessed?

2 x 2,500-word essays

The essays will provide an opportunity for the students to demonstrate their understanding of travel writing and tourism in modern British and Irish history, using a range of secondary and primary material, and showing skills in reading, analysis, source interpretation, criticism, and citation. These essays will be written in response to questions chosen from two thematic lists provided by the module tutor.

Formative assessment will be based around short student presentations in class.





Module abstract

When did we begin travelling for leisure, and why did we write about it? How did travel and tourism become such an important part of our economy, our politics and our culture? In this module you will discover how the history of travel writing and tourism is deeply connected to the making of modern Britain and Ireland. From eighteenth century seaside towns and European Grand Tours to twentieth century holiday camps and heritage tourism, this module introduces students to the historical transformations that made us travellers. You will discover how Queen Victoria’s royal tourism was used to strengthen the political Union; how Thomas Cook’s tours followed the British Empire’s transport routes into the Middle East, Africa and India; and how the tourism industry promoted cooperation in a divided Ireland in the twentieth century. You will explore all of this through travel accounts, photographs, films, and poster artwork from the period.

Course info

UCAS Code T720

Credits 20

Level of Study Undergraduate

Mode of Study 3 years full-time or 4 years with a placement (sandwich)/study abroad

Department Humanities

Location City Campus, Northumbria University

City Newcastle

Start September 2024

Fee Information

Module Information

All information is accurate at the time of sharing.

Full time Courses starting in 2023 are primarily delivered via on-campus face to face learning but may include elements of online learning. We continue to monitor government and local authority guidance in relation to Covid-19 and we are ready and able to flex accordingly to ensure the health and safety of our students and staff.

Contact time is subject to increase or decrease in line with additional restrictions imposed by the government or the University in the interest of maintaining the health and safety and wellbeing of students, staff, and visitors, potentially to a full online offer, should further restrictions be deemed necessary in future. Our online activity will be delivered through Blackboard Ultra, enabling collaboration, connection and engagement with materials and people.


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