Walk Like a Man

Dúnlaith Bird

in Travelling in Different Skins

Published in print July 2012 | ISBN: 9780199644162
Published online September 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780199949984 | DOI:

Series: Oxford Modern Languages and Literature Monographs

Walk Like a Man

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This chapter explores the original paradigm of vagabondage. An increasingly totemic concept in European women’s travel writing from the 1850s onwards, vagabondage offers an alternative model of mobility and gender construction. The chapter begins by mapping the development of vagabondage from its historical origins to its reformulation as women’s movement from 1850. From forced economic migration in fourteenth-century Europe, vagabondage gradually metamorphoses into a criminal activity, a seditious plague on the nation state, as close textual analysis of Royal Statutes from Britain and France shows. It also constitutes a marginal literary movement, from Elizabethan rogue’s literature to Victor Hugo’s vagabond heroes. The chapter uses Isabelle Eberhardt’s early travel writing and Colette’s La Vagabonde (1911) to elucidate the central characteristics and themes of women’s vagabondage. The final section examines official repression of female vagabondage and the appearance of modern ‘rogue literature’ as a response to this repression in the travelogues of Freya Stark.

Keywords: vagabondage; vagabonds; criminality; Colette; nomadism; Isabelle Eberhardt; identity construction; gender norms; social deviance; rogue’s literature

Chapter.  16470 words. 

Subjects: Literature

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