Ethical Travel Writing

Given that travel means to leave home and go somewhere else, to cross over into the space of other peoples, cultures, and environments, is there an ethics of travel writing, a code of conduct for the writer or for the traveler?  Whether they journey as tourists, explorers, or missionaries, travelers engage with the new, the “other” in ways that can test what it means to be ethical.  The Society for American Travel Writing invites proposals for papers exploring ethical travel writing or the ethics of travel. Possible questions include:  What does it mean to be an ethical travel writer?  Conversely, what does unethical travel writing look like?  When we travel we necessarily invade the space of other people or terrains, bringing into question an ethical relationship to them. How do writers portray or critique engagement with the “other”?  How does American travel writing grapple with appropriate responses to relationships with the local inhabitants, the sites visited, or the landscape?  How does travel elsewhere prompt writers to think about their own moral codes of conduct or the conduct of others?  What are the ethical responses or responsibilities of the tourist? Is it possible to be an ethical tourist and still have fun? What are the ethical issues related to ecotourism?  Or health tourism? Or food tourism? What are the ethics of the tourist industry and how does travel writing address them? What are the ethical questions that come into play in imperializing travel? Travel to underdeveloped areas?  Is there something peculiar about the ways that American writers appropriate travel of “the other” for their own ends?

The Society for the Study of American Travel Writing seeks paper proposals for the American Literature Association annual conference in San Francisco, May 26-29, 2016.

Please email a brief CV and 300-word abstract by 15 December 2015 to Susan Roberson ( using “SATW Ethical Travel Writing” as the subject line.  Scholars of American travel writing and practicing travel writers are particularly encouraged to submit proposals.

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