Community members get a lunchtime taste of Lawrence

Liz Tubman

Ever wonder what goes on in Lucinda’s on certain Fridays when it is closed to Lawrence students? The “Lunch at Lawrence” program has been held every month in Lucy’s for over 20 years and provides opportunities for members of the community to become involved and interact with various faculty members and guest professors at Lawrence. The program began as a small corporate group and grew through word of mouth into a very successful venture that includes alumni as well as members of the surrounding community. Each month, after a tasty lunch, a different professor or faculty member lectures on a specific topic. President Beck was the featured speaker at one of last year’s first lunches. These lunches provide an exceptional opportunity for the university to showcase its talented faculty members.
This month’s “Lunch at Lawrence,” held Nov. 11, featured assistant professor of history Monica Rico with “Telling It Like It Was? Travel Writing Through the Ages.” Her lecture focused specifically on travel writing of the 19th century and the extent to which those narratives can be considered accurate to the geographic locations being described. Authors of travel narratives in the 19th century tried to make their writing as comprehensive as possible, but at the same time included their own emotional awakenings and other reactions to the sites and places that they experienced. These travel writings almost always give information and background about the culture of the writer themselves as well as the places the writer was visiting. According to Rico, people read travel narratives for information on how people imagined foreign places and for that author’s specific worldview.
Modern travel writing, as opposed to the travel narratives of the 19th century, tells us how to travel – as Professor Rico remarked, “Every journey is seen as a journey of self-discovery.” No trip today would be complete without documentation in journals, sketchbooks and photos; this phenomenon evolved because of travel writing. Rico also shared some of her own experiences from a study tour of Asia that she took with a number of other faculty members.
If you are interested in reading any travel writing, Professor Rico recommends books by both Peter Hessler and Jonathan Raven.
A full schedule of speakers for the “Lunch at Lawrence” program can be found on the university website at