Tenleytown Travelogue

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For your third paper, you will be writing a 10-12 page researched DC travelogue. Your
model for this assignment is Sarah Vowell’s Assassination Vacation.
Part I: Walk the Walk
To begin your travels and research, you will select one of the DC Neighborhood Heritage
Trails to walk and explore. These trails (along with great maps and booklets) are located at:
Your neighborhood’s booklet will give you a brief history of the sites you’re visiting, and will
also list a bibliography that may be useful in your research. I recommend downloading a
copy of your neighborhood’s booklet and holding onto it.
There are fourteen different neighborhoods listed, including: Greater U Street, Tenleytown,
Downtown, Greater H Street, etc. Try reading through several of the neighborhood
booklets and seeing which neighborhood’s history most interests you.
You will want to bring a notebook to record your observations and reflections while on your
travels, and you may also want to bring a camera or a recording device (for interviews).
*Keep in mind the issue of safety. You’ll want to choose a time of day that will allow
plenty of daylight. Bringing along friends or classmates is also a good idea. (In Assasination
Vacation, Sarah Vowell mentions feeling muggable while walking alone at night in DC; I’d
prefer that feeling not be part of your experience.)
Part II: Focus and Further Research the Walk
Once you have completed your walk, you will select a topic to further research. For
example, walking the Greater U Street trail may interest you in the history and footsteps of
Duke Ellington in that neighborhood. Or walking Downtown, you may become interested
in Clara Barton, and want to further research her steps. Again, there are many options.
Note: You may not focus on the Lincoln, Garfield, or McKinley assassinations, as
these would overlap too much with Assassination Vacation, and would put you in the
very unfortunate position of trying to find evidence or interpretations of events that
Vowell did not find.
Next you will hit the library in search of additional sources, sources, sources. I’d like to see a
variety of sources, including primary sources (e.g. letters or journal entries from your subject
if you can find them) as well as secondary sources. Your emphasis should be on scholarly
sources; there will likely be a good number of these available on your topic. Remember to focus in on the topic’s relation to DC and to your selected neighborhood. And remember to
consult with AU’s Reference Librarians if you are having trouble locating library sources.
After you’ve done further library research, you should re-walk that portion of the trail that
connects directly to your topic. You will find that your reflections and observations are
richer now that you know more, and this will be a very good thing for your paper. So feel
free to visit and revisit your site, collecting further evidence.
A couple things to keep in mind in writing your researched DC travelogue:
1. Like Assassination Vacation, there should be a personal element. This includes your
observations and reflections while on your walk, but it should also include a clear sense of
motivation or purpose (I had to write a paper is not sufficient motivation). Vowell
became interested in presidential assassinations at a time when she was furious with the
current president. Why have you selected your topic?
2. Also like Assassination Vacation, remember to tie the past to the present. As part of her
Lincoln discussion, Vowell points out that now is also a time of war. And later in the book
she argues that there are similarities between the McKinley era and our current era. What
does your topic’s past have to do with the present?
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