Welcome to my website, “My Travels, My Identity,” a project for my Summer 2016 class through Northern Arizona University. A master’s level class, English 624 surveys rhetorical approaches to travel writing through scholarly readings and through the study of travel articles and blogs of various kinds.

Although everyone enjoys travel adventures whether at home or abroad, it’s not always in our nature to think critically about the historical, social, political and cultural background of a new place. My NAU course introduces the idea of traveler as ethnographer, observing and recording through words and photos the special qualities of each new community as it’s discovered. “My Travels, My Identity” will piece together the intersections between my culture and personal views and those of other cultures. To do that,  I am visiting four Phoenix-area museums that offer an array of cultural insights. And these are cultures that are fairly unfamiliar to me: Native American and Irish American, for instance. First stop: the world-famous Heard Museum, where I hope to unearth deeper meanings about Native American culture — its development and its manifestations — through time.

Yes, I could, instead, use this blogging space to write in travelogue fashion about what a wonderful museum the Heard is, how I spent my day, and which displays I most ogled. But that’s not the object here.

Now, don’t be intimidated! I plan to keep things easy-going and non-scholarly. And you might come to see these museums through new eyes, too!

— Deborah Ross/dr668@nau.edu

Phoenix in all its sprawling glory from the top of Piestewa Peak. Oh, and that’s me, who finally got around to climbing the darn thing. The 2,600-foot mountain is named after Lori Piestewa, the first Native American woman killed in combat in a foreign war.