What an experience this has been: vibrant, eye-opening, soul-stirring!

We’ve just returned to Los Angeles happy and enriched after a month ‘on the road’ in the Big Easy.

12 student bookpackers and I spent the best part of four weeks traveling together, sharing rich experiences and forging close friendships. Together, we dug deep into a fascinating mix of local cultures - Creole, Cajun, African-American and White Protestant. We met warm and delightful people, and forged the kinds of empathetic connections - through literature, and in the flesh - which lie at the heart of the BOOKPACKERS experience.

For my part, it was a privilege and a profound pleasure to share this kind of personal journey with such a vital, insightful and delightful group of young people.

A final team photo in St. Martinville, in Cajun Louisiana.

A final team photo in St. Martinville, in Cajun Louisiana.

ENGL-RGB-hinformal[2].png



2019 maymester Student Roster

“BOOKPACKING THE BIG EASY” - about the class

Course leader Andrew Chater - “bookpacker”, documentary filmmaker and USC Adjunct Professor of the Practise of English (pic by Everest Brady)

Course leader Andrew Chater - “bookpacker”, documentary filmmaker and USC Adjunct Professor of the Practise of English (pic by Everest Brady)

In May / June, immediately following commencement, The University of Southern California offers students a series of ‘off campus’ classes, set abroad and in cities across the USA.  These ‘special session’ programs are called ‘Maymesters’. 

BOOKPACKING THE BIG EASY is a 25-day Maymester set in New Orleans and Southern Louisiana, a unique region of America formed of a fusion of cultural strands: Creole, Cajun, African-American and White Protestant. 

Andrew leads 12 student bookpackers on a road trip through this fascinating cultural landscape, exploring places and people through the portal of classic and contemporary novels, which we read as we travel.  We use the novels as guidebooks, adopting a holistic approach to the humanities whereby literature, history, geography, politics and social studies combine into a unified course of study.