Gender Identity in European Women's Oriental Travelogues, 1850-1950
Author: Dúnlaith Bird
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Category: Literary Criticism
Travelling in Different Skins explores the ways in which travel creates gender trouble and motion destabilises identity. Through close readings of European women's Oriental travelogues from 1850-1950, including Olympe Audouard, Isabella Bird, Jane Dieulafoy and Freya Stark, the book shows how the 'perfect woman' is rewritten in the Other space of the Orient. As these women negotiate their way through the traditionally male arenas of colonialism,Orientalism and the adventure genre, they send home distorted, disturbing, appealing visions of modern female identity. Combining travel, post-colonial and gender theory, the book demonstrates howrather than domestic, localised contentment, women travellers in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries explore cross-dressing, commerciality and performance. At the risk of going too far, becoming subject to social exclusion, they push out the physical, textual and geographical parameters by which women are defined. This monograph elaborates a new paradigm for considering women's travel writing, vagabondage, the endless, aching search for identity through motion.