English 139 - Spring, 2022

Topics in Global Literatures & Cultures

Class Information

Instructor: Sarpong, Ashley
Time: MWF 3:10-4:00
Location: 1130 Bainer
GE Areas: World Cultures Writing Experience


ENL 139: Traveling the Globe and Writing New Worlds

In the European race to explore and colonize other continents in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, England found itself dead last. Portugal was a major hub for leading, ambitious explorers; Spain, in its search for gold and other precious minerals, controlled much of the shipping passages in and around South America; France strategically secured trade routes and colonies in North America; and the Netherlands proved to be a major innovator in navigational tools and techniques. As late to the party as they were, the sixteenth-century English were keen to cash in on the riches that seemed to flow from these trade routes in the so-called "New World" as well as from Africa, Asia, and Russia. The travel narratives produced by English explorers, such as those compiled in Richard Hakluyt's "Principall Navigations," demonstrate the ambitions and anxieties surrounding colonial strategies among the English. In this course, we will examine how late sixteenth- (and early seventeenth-) century travel narratives sketch out the expanding globe from the perspective of the early modern English public. In our survey of these travel narratives we will analyze how these texts, in turn, plot out different spaces throughout the globe. In the process, we will scrutinize how notions of place, people, and goods are articulated in these early modern narratives?and tease out legacies of these colonial constructions in our present by pairing these travel narratives with modern-day creative texts and literary criticism.


two 5-7 page argument papers (each worth 25%)
one in class midterm examination (10%)
comprehensive final exam (20%)
class participation (includes attendance, participation in class, discussion section, and short writing exercises)


Voyages and Discoveries, Richard Hakluyt