Travelling in Different Skins: Gender Identity in European Womens Oriental Travelogues, 1850-1950

Hardcover | July 6, 2012

byDunlaith Bird

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Dunlaith Bird argues that vagabondage - a physical and textual elaboration of gender identity in motion - emerges as a totemic concept in European women's travel writing from 1850. For travellers including Olympe Audouard, Isabella Bird, Isabelle Eberhardt, and Freya Stark,vagabondage is ameans of pushing out the physical, geographical, and textual parameters by which 'women' are defined.Travelling in Different Skins 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 gleefuldefiance. 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 animportant 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 toelaborate advanced theories of motion and gender construction, presaging the concerns of twenty-first century feminism and post-colonialism.

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Dunlaith Bird argues that vagabondage - a physical and textual elaboration of gender identity in motion - emerges as a totemic concept in European women's travel writing from 1850. For travellers including Olympe Audouard, Isabella Bird, Isabelle Eberhardt, and Freya Stark,vagabondage is ameans of pushing out the physical, geographica...

Dr Dunlaith Bird is Maitre de langue at the Ecole normale superieure, Paris, where she teaches courses on Irish culture, history, and literature, travel writing, post-colonial and gender studies, and translation. She studied English and French at St. Catherine's College, Oxford University, and was awarded her doctorate by Oxford Unive...
Format:HardcoverDimensions:312 pages, 8.5 × 5.43 × 0.01 inPublished:July 6, 2012Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0199644160

ISBN - 13:9780199644162

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Table of Contents

1. Introduction: Travelling in Different Skins2. Walk Like a Man: Vagabondage and Gender Construction3. Performance in Motion: Gender Identity, Performativity and Travel Writing4. The Inky Body: Writing Corporeality5. Bearded Queens and Amazons: Cross-dressing, Disguise and Deception6. Selling the Skirt: Women's Travel Writing and the Literary Market7. Skirting the Issue: Intelligibility and Recognition8. A Woman's Place: Spatial Dynamics of the OrientConclusion: Casting SkinsAppendixBibliography: Bound in Different Skins