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Yale Summer Session in Auvillar: Personal Geography

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International Study Award (ISA)

The ISA provides a stipend for one credit-bearing summer study abroad experience for eligible undergraduates receiving a Yale scholarship. You must apply to Yale Study Abroad and be approved for a Yale Summer Session Programs Abroad or Non-Yale Summer Abroad program. Yale Study Abroad does not administer the ISA. For all ISA-related details, including how to request funding, when it gets disbursed, how much funding you can expect, and more, visit the ISA website.

Program Information


Auvillar, France




Saturday, July 8, 2023 to Saturday, August 5, 2023



Area of Focus

Arts & Humanities

Distributional Requirements

Fulfills Hu or WR distributional requirement


Study Center

Course Number



2 Yale credits


Colleen Kinder 




[NOTE: Program details (overall status, dates, costs, syllabus, etc.) are subject to change each summer, and the information on this page will be updated as such details are finalized.]

There are only two plots in all of literature, claimed the late John Gardner: the story of a journey, and of a stranger coming to town. Most travel literature is both: the story of a journey as well as a tale of a stranger, stepping into an alien land. This program examines a wide range of place-based literature, from long-form city portraits to travel memoir excerpts, with a focus on the particular authorial persona driving each piece. How is this writer bringing the landscape to life? What are they choosing to enunciate, question, romanticize, or criticize? What do we learn about the writer through the prism of place? Readings by writers such as Ryszard Kapuscinski, Jan Morris, Leslie Jamison, James Baldwin, Teju Cole and Pico Iyer will acquaint students with the techniques by which journalists and writers capture the essential qualities of a place, and negotiate their own presence and vantage point within the story of the journey.

Every weekend, participants will journey to a new region of southwestern France as a group, but once there, disperse to independently observe their surrounds, with a notebook ever in hand. Writing prompts are a central facet of this course, making it similar to the Yale creative writing course "Daily Themes," in that students respond to specific writing challenges every day of the week. Course prompts challenge the students to write not just about their foreign environs (France), but to author short and long essays set in myriad places of importance to them, by drawing from memory. Students also serve as peer editors to one other, swapping drafts and learning to foster a creative community among themselves. Our core focus is to build the skills with which to render "sense of place" with precision, force and a singular voice.

The class will meet each week on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Friday from 11:00 a.m. - 1:00 p.m. and students should expect about 25 hours of work outside the classroom each week, as well excursions and other program activities.


Yale Summer Session Programs Abroad updates program budgets in late January. Please note the year listed on the button below.

Summer 2022 Budget

Trips and Activities

Participants will visit the Tuesday market at Valence d'Agen, with the guidance of a local chef who will conclude the day by giving a cooking class. The second major excursion is along the Santiago de Compostela pilgrimage trail: a long hike through the fields and tiny towns of southwestern France. As this program puts an emphasis on pilgrimage and "literary walks," setting out on foot will be something we grant significant attention to. The program concludes with a long weekend in Bordeaux, with a focus on urban ambiance and literary portraits of great cities.


[NOTE: Students are required to stay in program-provided housing.  There is no option for individually-arranged housing.]

All participants will live together in a large residence in the heart of the small town of Auvillar, called "gîte" in French. There will be facilities for cooking as well as plenty of nooks for gathering, studying, and writing. The program instructor and assistant, who will also be acting as a translator, will live near by.


Participants are responsible for making their own travel arrangements to France and are expected to arrive in Toulouse-Blagnac Airport no later than 2:00 p.m. on the first day of the program to board a chartered bus to Auvillar and depart no earlier than 8:00 a.m. on the last day of the program (see 'Dates' above); additional information will be provided upon admission.

Note: Admitted applicants will be asked to complete a form regarding dietary restrictions. Restrictions can be accommodated but only if this information is provided well before the program begins as the local chefs need adequate time to prepare (purchase) accordingly.


For course content questions contact instructor Colleen Kinder. For general program questions contact the Study Abroad staff.

Note: The Personal Geography program was cancelled for summer 2022 on February 9 due to unforseen circumstances. We hope to offer the program again in summer 2023.

Learn More

Review eligibility requirements, the application process, and deadlines:

How to Apply

Yale Study Abroad Adviser

Lauren Perrino