November 8, 2002
New Meanings of Travel in Contemporary Travel Writing
Nancy Novogrod '71
embraces a world of meanings. While it can be mundane (to travel
simply means to move from one place to another), it can also hold
within it the promise of transformation. It is necessity and extravagance;
entertainment and pilgrimage; exploration and escape; challenge
and repose. As humans, we journey metaphoricallymoving,
for example, from one developmental stage to another. We move
around the world as tourists, merchants, voyagers, immigrants,
and refugees; and we read ourselves around the world in travelers'
These and other concepts
that form our shifting ideas of travel will be the topic of discussion
Thursday, November 14, when the Weissman Center for Leadership
presents "New Meanings of Travel in Contemporary Travel Writing,"
a panel presentation featuring a distinguished group of guest
experts. The panelists are Ian Buruma, journalist and novelist;
Caryl Phillips, novelist, travel writer, and professor of English
at Barnard College; and Nancy Novogrod '71, senior vice president
and editorial director of American Express Publishing and editor-in-chief
of Travel + Leisure. Michael Gorra, professor of English
at Smith College, will moderate. In addition to the panel presentation,
the Weissman Center has arranged, in conjunction with various
departments, for panelists to meet informally with students and
faculty. The evening is part of the Weissman Center's Destinations:
New Meanings of Travel series, cosponsored by the Mount Holyoke
College Art Museum, the Center for Environmental Literacy, and
the MHC Arts Committee. The event takes place at 7:30 pm in the
Art Building's Gamble Auditorium.
Panelists will address
such questions as: What new ways of writing and thinking about
travel have recently emerged? How has globalizationcultural,
economic, and demographicchanged our sense of travel? And
why is tourism one of the world's biggest industries?
says moderator Gorra, "is to look at these questions from
many different angles, by putting together people whose work deals
with very different aspects of travel. While Nancy Novogrod is,
perhaps, primarily concerned with travel as a business and a form
of leisure, Caryl Phillips and Ian Buruma both use travel as a
mode of witness and political exploration. These are kinds of
travel that don't often talk to each other."
of one the world's most widely circulated magazines, Travel
+ Leisure, Novogrod sees many points of convergence between
the world of the tourist and that of the traveler/voyager. "Witness
is probably the deepest function of travel, but it is also a form
of entertainment. It takes you out of your everyday life, into
a reality distinct from your own. That experience is liberating
and often ennobling. Travel offers an opportunity to find yourself
through escaping the everyday and removing some of the familiar
elements of your surroundings so that you can not only see new
parts of the world but also see new parts of yourself."
Adding yet another
layer to the subject, the panelists will themselves travel to
Mount Holyoke from points in the United States and abroad. Novogrodwhose
travels in the last few weeks have taken her to Asia, Hawaii,
Palm Beach, and Italysays that in a sense, coming back to
Mount Holyoke, where she graduated with a degree in art history,
is different from these other voyages. Says Novogrod, "I
view visiting Mount Holyoke as coming home."
About the Panelists
Buruma was educated
in Holland and Japan and has spent many years in Asia. He writes
political and cultural commentary on Asia for a number of Western
publications and is the author of a novel and many works of nonfiction.
His latest book is Bad Elements: Chinese Rebels from Los Angeles
Gorra teaches courses on English and American fiction at Smith
College. He is the author of The English Novel at Mid-Century:
From the Leaning Tower and After Empire: Scott, Naipaul, Rushdie.
Gorra is a prolific book reviewer for the New York Times Book
Review, the Times Literary Supplement, and other journals. He
is currently at work on a travel book about Germany.
In addition to her role as editor-in-chief of Travel + Leisure,
Novogrod is editorial director of American Express Publishing
Corporation, where she oversees Departures, T+L Golf, T+L Family,
and various development projects. Novogrod is a former trustee
of Mount Holyoke.
Born in Saint Kitts, West Indies, and educated at Oxford, Phillips
is the author of eight books, including Atlantic Sound,
as well as numerous scripts for film, theater, radio, and television.
He is a professor of English at Barnard College.