Wednesday, August 18, 2010

What I Plan to Read

After an incredibly busy couple of weeks (moving out of my apartment in Provo, helping my family move from Washington to California, and getting ready to leave the country), I have just three more days to go until I leave for South Africa (so excited!), so now is the time for some last-minute explanations and background on what I'll be doing.

As many of you know, in the three months while I'm in East London, South Africa I'll be completing a Field Study on local perceptions of ecotourism, as I described in an earlier post, and earning University credit through courses from the International and Area Studies, English, and Plant and Wildlife Science departments at BYU. This blog will primarily document my experience for my Travel Writing course, overseen by Gideon Burton.

I'll be completing a number of readings for the Travel Writing course as well as my other courses, and to provide background for my research. Here is my reading list so far:

1. Walden by Henry David Thoreau.
Walden exemplifies many of the most basic principles behind ecotourism, especially separation from man's influence and communion with nature. Also, since it was a part of the American Romantic movement, I expect to find some great examples of the natural sublime that I like so much. I read this one a number of years ago, but feel like it will be beneficial to revisit it and see what from Thoreau I can take and apply to ecotourism.

2. The Green Hills of Africa by Ernest Hemingway.
This work of nonfiction documents Hemingway's month on safari in East Africa. This should serve as a great contrast to Walden and the principles of ecotourism, as safaris are exactly the type of destructive tourism that ecotourism seeks to eliminate. At the same time the two are very closely related - they both arise from the desire for an authentic wildlife/nature experience - so I think it will be fun to see what similarities and differences I can find between Hemingway's experience and attitude and that of an eco-tourist.

3. Selections by Bruce Chatwin
Chatwin and his writing has caught my interest lately. I'd like to read some more of his works primarily to look at his style of travel writing, though I'm sure I'll find elements of ecotourism and the sublime and all that, too.

4. Ecotourism and Sustainable Development: Who Owns Paradise? by Martha Honey.
This will be my primary textbook while in the field. It provides background information on ecotourism and describes the principles, future potential, and controversies of the industry. It should help me keep my facts straight and has great case studies, including a major section on South Africa.

5. Scholarly Articles
So that my project actually has merit in the academic world, I have been and will continue to be reading many (many many) scholarly articles on ecotourism, sustainability, South African parks and reserves, etc. These are what provide the background for what I'm doing and reassure me that someone cares about these things other than myself.

These are what I have so far; I'm sure the list will change and grow with time. If anyone has any feedback or suggestions I'd love to hear them!

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