Autobiography and Women's Travel Writings in Nineteenth-century France: Journeys through self-representation

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This analysis of nineteenth-century travel literature by French and francophone women examines the various mechanisms and strategies at play in women's struggle with self-representation within the genre of travel writing. Through the works of three women travellers, Henriette d'Angeville, Adele Hommaire de Hell and Carla Serena, four main voices are identified as representing the plurality of self-images women writers create in their texts: conventional autobiographical voices where they present themselves in a stereotypically feminine manner; conventional ‘neutral’ scientific voices where they take on the traditionally masculine task of science writing, thus erasing the autobiographical; differentiated scientific voices where they valorize a (private) sphere of knowledge dependent upon their personal experiences and valorized as such; and finally, differentiated autobiographical voices which undermine constraining representations of women by placing them in the valued public sphere. As a result, travel writing becomes a most important medium for women: it questions the traditional limits placed upon their writings and ways of being and allows for a complex feminine subject to emerge (often indirectly) from the texts. Such a process leads to the questioning of gender constructions as a whole.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)61-70
Number of pages10
JournalGender, Place & Culture
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 1 1994

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Gender Studies
  • Demography
  • Cultural Studies
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)


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