The travel writing I discuss in my books, articles and teaching addresses several questions. Why do people travel? Is it to see the world? Or perhaps they wish to escape monotonous routines? Maybe they are fleeing challenging situations? Perhaps they want to learn about others different from themselves? The answers emerge in writings by many who set out long before the current flurry of tourism and migration.
Readers of Travel Writing
Writers of works about travel often did not intend for numerous readers to see their words in print. Instead, they kept journals and sent letters that record observations–immediate reactions, instant impressions, later reflections–meant for themselves or a few family members and friends. Some, however, did write initially with a view of moving from personal draft to published pages. The women I highlight as travel writers wanted their words to circulate. They believed their voices were of value. They believed their observations would enrich others’ lives. And, they imagined readers awaited them. Notably, they did not travel as tourists.
More than Tourists
Reading more about these women travelers, who were more than tourists, enhances our understanding of the world. It also expands our awareness of the power of travel for women of the past. Posts about these women will appear here.
Linking “utopian” communal groups and American women writers in Italy, I spoke last weekend on Constance Fenimore Woolson and Zoar.
Woolson began her...Read More »
I often teach works by Harriet Beecher Stowe, Catharine Maria Sedgwick and Margaret Fuller, three among several 19th-century American writers whose lives were changed by time abroad. My current book project focuses on three other American women who were their contemporaries–Anne Hampton Brewster, Emily Bliss Gould, and Caroline Crane Marsh....Read More »