Fall 21 HUMS 026 Shawkat Toorawa
A photo negative of the Canadian Rockies, two peaks on either side, a valley cuts through the center.
Canadian Rockies No. 8, Walter McClintock source


Through the lens of travel accounts—by merchants, envoys, scholars, pilgrims and wanderers—this course provides first-year students with an intensive introduction to studying the humanities at Yale. The course is anchored by accounts of trans-continental journeys to six regions: China, Egypt, the Holy Land, the Indian Ocean, the Ottoman Empire, and Russia. Key texts include: The Periplus (Greek, 1st-century), Ibn Fadlan’s Mission to the Volga (Arabic, 10th-c.), Benjamin of Tudela’s Itinerary (Hebrew, 12th-c.), Abd al-Latif’s Physician on the Nile (Arabic, 12th-c.), Marco Polo’s Travels (Franco-Venetian, 13th-c.), Margery Kempe’s Autobiography (English, 14th-c.).

We also read works by contemporary travelers Emily O’Dell and Tim Mackintosh-Smith. All provide a foundation for us to explore the ways we think about ourselves and the “other,” home, the unfamiliar and wondrous—in short, the diversity of human experience. We make extensive use of Yale’s rich manuscript archives, historical object collections, and art galleries and devote sustained attention to improving students’ academic writing skills. Friday sessions alternate between writing workshops and field trips to Yale collections. 



Tuesday, Thursday
1:00 pm — 2:15 pm


12:30 pm — 3:30 am


Shawkat Toorawa

Professor of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations with a focus on classical and medieval literature and the literary and writerly culture of Abbasid Baghdad in particular.


Title Date Link
Listing Sep 1, 2021 Visit