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ARAB 402: Travel Literature in Arabic: Travel Literature

Professor Brahim El Guabli
Spring 2023

How is Travel Literature or Travel Writing defined in library catalog?

When organizing collections, libraries have to describe the sources. How a source is described and what classification terms are assigned will determine how search engines find materials and where the sources are located in libraries.

Scope notes of relevant Library of Congress Subject Headings: 

  • Travel Writing applies to books about writings of travelers. It covers works on the authorship of writings by travelers that are often presented in narrative form or as memoirs
  • Travelers' writings covers collections of works written by travelers from several countries
  • Travelers' writing + nationality of the travelers covers Collections of works written by travelers from a specific country
  • Name of place + Description and Travel covers works on travel to a specific place 
  • Travel journalism covers works on journalism that focuses on travel and the tourism industry 

Some suggested Subject Headings to find travel literature

You may use these LCSH to search the Williams Libraries catalog and Worldcat:

  • Arabs -- Travel
  • Muslim pilgrims and pilgrimages
  • Travelers
  • Travelers--[Name of Country] 
  • Travelers' writings
  • Traveler's writings, Arabic
  • Visitors, Foreign—[Name of Country]
  • Voyages and travels
  • Voyages and travels -- [Name of Country]
  • [Name of country or state]—Description and travel

More information from the Library of Congress on locating Travel Accounts. 

What about working with keywords?

When conducting research, you need to combine search strategies based on keywords and search strategies based on LC Subject Headings. 

Keywords: When we think of travel writing terms such as "travel accounts", "travelogs", "travel diaries" may come to mind. These terms can be used a search keywords, they will retrieve materials that use these specific terms. But, these keyword searches will not retrieve materials that are thematically related but use a different terminology. 

As you read relevant materials and start researching, pay attention to:

  • the terminology used by scholars (different disciplines use different terminology) 
  • all the aspects of a topic. For examples, in reading Daniel Newman Arabic Travel Writing, you learn about the reasons that Arabs have travelled throughout history. One reason is religion. Knowing that, you can then craft keyword based searches combining travel and Islam. This search brings up sources related to the Arabic travel writing. 

Subject Headings: Are assigned to materials by librarians with the goal of transcending keywords and creating clusters of related sources. Using LCSH enables you to perform a more comprehensive searches.

Where are sources located in the library?

Travel writing is classed in a variety of location in the LC Classification System. You may find sources in: 

  • the general range for Special voyages and travel: G368.2-503 
  • the place the author traveled to
  • some aspect of the author's identity (e.g. Wonderlands : good gay travel writing, is classed in the gender studies class: HQ) 
  • some aspect of the journey itself (e.g. , Visiting the Shakers, 1850-1899 is classed in the Religion section:  BX)