Samuel James Conroy

Vituperation Progymnasmata

Vituperation Progymnasmata

            The travel writing industry has undergone an interesting switch over the last decade or so. Previously, travel writers were highly skilled and area-focused causing them to be specialists rather than a generalist. This meant that a writer who wrote about Latin America would only write about Latin America as this was their focus or specialization. However, as the writing and publishing industry started to become digitalized, a work-for-hire system started to be implemented that rewarded generalists over specialists.

Alacovska believes this is a poor switch as these new “generalist” writers are not experienced enough to do the job. I agree with this take as individual writers are getting their credit taken from them in favor of promoting companies’ names. Alacovska states, “Similarly, publishing entities worked to strengthen their companies’ brand recognition through corporate collective authorship at the expense of individual professional authors” (Alacovska). This new style not only compromised the work of the authors, but also made the work worse. In order to compensate for this, companies would enforce strict guidelines onto their writers, so it became pretty hard to fall out of line with the rules given. This “deskilling” of writers as Alacovska put it has made guidebook writing a looked-down upon industry as now it seems just about anybody can do it without honestly knowing about the place they write about.

“Guidebook writers are considered ‘‘talentless freeloaders’’ or ‘‘pulp producers,’’ while the genre itself is viewed as a sanctuary for ‘‘second-rate (literary) talents’’ in search of paid vacations” (Alacovska).

The fall of the guidebook writer is the fault of the companies. An industry that was already looked down upon by other writers has now only buried themselves deeper in the literary world through generalizing the work. The business focused world that has come of guidebook writing through digitalization is a sad one as many talented writers are getting overshadowed in order to promote a company’s image.

Paula I Arraiza

The Problem with Tourists with Typewriters

Type of Progym: Vituperation

For anyone who loves to travel, nothing would be better than getting paid to do exactly that. Alacovska believes people like this, who are willing to write about their experiences in exchange for a trip somewhere are harmful to the travel guidebook industry and experienced writers working in this field. They are basically travelers, or people interested in traveling, who want to get into the field of travel writing because they find it lavish and a good way to travel the world.

These types of writers tend to be inexperienced and naïve, many times willing to work for low wages. Alacovska describes them as

“relatively inexperienced young writers writing collaboratively about any topic and any location without specialized knowledge.” (51)

Basically, lots of people would love to be able to visit pretty places and write mediocre pieces about them, just because it means they get to travel. This ends up hurting those who are experienced in the field because there are many who are willing to do their job for way less. Not only this, the entire industry is portrayed in a bad light, since many believe the writers are subpar.

“The industry tendency to deskill authors to the point that they became interchangeable reinforced the already low status of travel (guidebook) writing.” (52)

Basically, due to the extensive amount of people willing to take this job, and end up doing it, the travel guidebook writing field is looked down upon. These types of writers are extremely hurtful to the industry and professional writers inside of it, since it hurts their credibility immensely. Not only that, it may leave many amazing writers without a job, or make them settle for less.  Similarly, experienced writers also mention that the job is not as fun and easy as it actually seems. Alacovska shows various anecdotes of qualified writers in this field;

“My problem (problem?) is that I’d travel, take photos and write in my free time . . . if I had any free time. I don’t. I’m too busy traveling, taking photos and writing. I’m as happy, as Tom Lehrer said, as the young necrophiliac who achieved his lifelong ambition by becoming a coroner.” (49)

“Travel writing is unfortunately neither travel nor writing. It is not sexy. It is not fun. It is hard work. There are many responsibilities, for the readers, for those people out there” (52)

I admit it may definitely be tempting to dedicate your life to traveling and writing pieces about it, there are many things about the job that should be considered before dedicating to it. If you are doing it for the sole purpose to get to travel all over the world, you should reconsider before doing it. While many do have the talent it takes to be successful and write great travel pieces, many other people are just along for the free ride. Someone who enters this field should do it because of their love and talent for writing, not only because they enjoy traveling.




Lucas Enrique Fernandez Uncategorized

Shipping Out Pt 2

Vituperation (Over-Pampering):

Too much of a bad thing, something poisonous for example, is bad. However, too much of a good thing, like sugar for example, can be equally as bad. All in all an excess of anything can end up spoiling it. In the case of over-pampering this is especially true. Pampering can be defined as being afforded every bit of comfort, attention, and care one needs. This steps into the realm of over-pampering when people begin paying too MUCH attention, leaving you things you do not need or doing things you do not want because it is what they believe to be a universally “kind” thing to do. David Foster Wallace captures the essence of this dilemma in Shipping Out when one of the porters offers to take his luggage to his room for him, which was a polite thing to do but not what Wallace wanted.

I am putting this guy, who barely speaks English, in a terrible kind of sedulous service double bind, a paradox of pampering: The Passenger’s Always Right versus Never Let a Passenger Carry His Own Bag

This situation, and the mess that follows, perfectly sums up how over-pampering is a lose-lose situation for both the pamperer and the pamperee. The pamperer is liable to get yelled at by his superiors for not following the proper extent of care (too much care) but he is also not supposed to go against the pamperee’s wishes for that too would be unacceptable. The pamperee also loses since they are held up from their original task to argue with the pamperer that they are overstepping their bounds. Wallace also later has to hear from a Greek member of the crew how the porter was chewed out, guilting him when it wasn’t even his fault. In the end, I believe that at resorts and cruiselines instilling the expectation that you need to overpamper your guests puts unnecessary stress and pressure on everyone involved. All this causes is a unbearable sense of despair where things are taken out of your control.

Lucas Enrique Fernandez

The Birthplace of the American Vacation


The American Vacation. This simple concept is one that for many represents a time of rest, exploration, and luxury. However, I believe that this concept is one that has shackled many areas and the people living in them. It is this concept that has turned people’s homes into tourist traps and places of nature, that an individual could appreciate on their own, into places that are torn down and changed for profit. Even the Adirondacks glorified in the reading, first by William H.H. Murray then by Tony Perrottet, are not exempt from this. The author’s guide said

even back in Murray’s day, a lot of the forest was being logged, clear-cut and burned. In the early 1900s, a logging railroad even went right by this river. The biggest trees would have been 300 to 400 years old, and grown as high as 150 feet. Even though the logging stopped a century ago, it will take a couple of hundred years more to get back to its original state.

This story in of itself shows the tragedy brought about by American travel. If this area was left alone to begin with, there would be no need to try to preserve it and leave it alone…we were the problem that damaged the area to begin with. Humans have a curious duality where we find the beauty of thing while simultaneously destroying them. The American vacation is then a dangerous concept where our greed and desire overcomes our thoughts to believe that we are more entitled to an area and its beauty, and the labor of the people surrounding it, in order to take a break from our lives and enjoy our vacation.