Book

Travelling in Different Skins

Dúnlaith Bird

Published in print July 2012 | ISBN: 9780199644162
Published online September 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780199949984 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199644162.001.0001

Series: Oxford Modern Languages and Literature Monographs

Travelling in Different Skins

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Vagabondage emerges as a totemic concept in European women’s travel writing from 1850, a physical and textual elaboration of gender identity in motion. This book constitutes a full length study of this paradigm. For travellers including Olympe Audouard, Isabella Bird, Isabelle Eberhardt and Freya Stark, vagabondage is a means of forcing pushing out the physical, geographical and textual parameters by which ‘women’ are defined. This book explores the negotiations of European women travel writers from 1850-1950 within the traditionally male-oriented discourses of colonialism and Orientalism. Moving from historical overview to close textual reading, it traces a complex web of tacit collusion and gleeful defiance. These women improvise access to the highly gendered ‘imaginative geography’ of the Orient. Tactics including cross-dressing, commerciality and the effacement of their male companions are used to carve out a space for their unconventional and often sexually hybrid constructions. Using a composite theoretical basis of the later critical work of Judith Butler and Edward Said, this comparative study of British and French colonial empires and gender norms draws out the nuances in these travellers’ constructions of gender identity. Women travel writers are shown to play an important role in the legacy of sexual experimentation and self-creation in the Orient, traditionally associated with male writers including Gide and Pierre Loti and now ripe for critical re-evaluation. This study demonstrates how these women use lived experiences of restriction and negotiation to elaborate advanced theories of motion and gender construction, presaging the concerns of twenty-first century feminism and post-colonialism.

Keywords: travel writing; gender; vagabondage; post-colonial; Orientalism; identity; commerciality; cross-dressing; motion

Book.  288 pages.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Literature

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Table of Contents

Introduction in Travelling in Different Skins

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Walk Like a Man in Travelling in Different Skins

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Performance in Motion in Travelling in Different Skins

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The Inky Body in Travelling in Different Skins

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Bearded Queens and Amazons in Travelling in Different Skins

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Selling the Skirt in Travelling in Different Skins

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Skirting the Issue in Travelling in Different Skins

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A Woman’s Place in Travelling in Different Skins

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Conclusion in Travelling in Different Skins

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