Thursday, December 15, 2016

English 810, Paper 6 (or Packing for My own Scholarly Journey)

My decision to study travel writing was conflicted. As I finished my M.A. coursework, I read my first travel diary written by a woman traveling through Mexico in 1846. I was hooked. As a Literature student, I couldn't help but read her work with my lit/crit glasses on, and I read her journey as a beautiful mix of creativity, non-fiction and whispered truths in a time of patriarchal censorship and editing. While I searched her non-fiction work for traditional literary elements, I became interested in how the 19th century saw travel as a theme for their own tale.
When I selected that 1846 work on which to focus my M.A. thesis, my Chair, who has a PhD in Rhetoric, smiled and nodded excitedly: "You.... you are really stepping into a rhetorical discussion." I recoiled a bit. Rhetoric? No. I am a Literature person!
The divide between Rhetoric and Literature Studies was as clear and emboldened as possible, even as I graduated with an English M.A. I suddenly felt the need to make sense of my (shifting?) focus. I had no background in rhetoric or rhetorical theory. I was ill-prepared. Little did I know my professional career would soon be affected by that same uncertainty as well.
As I defended my thesis, I was confused about my scholarly identity- I used a literary lens to read non-fiction archival material; my Objects of Study and critical perspective didn't seem to match. In my spare time, as I watched Anthony Bourdain eat his way across the world, I analyzed his rhetoric using post-colonial and cultural lenses. But I also read poetry by Whitman and Dickinson, novels by Greene, and their imaginary travels provided the same theme that captivated me in my archival studies. Who was I, dammit?
I was so confused that I didn't take the hint from my Chair's gift of Booth's The Rhetoric of Fiction.
Now, I am relieved to come across scholars like Marguerite Helmers and Tilar Mazzeo, who like me, focus on travel as a theme, and not genre, which I consider a benefit to this inclusive field. In addition to diaries, few travel writing scholars also study maps, charts, journals, letters, advertisements, and (surprising to most), fiction and poetry.
A quick look at Routledge’s research in Travel Writing Studies webpage (the leading publisher of travel writing studies) shows how significant feminist and postcolonial theory continues to be to the study of this genre for the past decade; notable works include Women, Travel Writing, and Truth and Travel Writing, Form, and Empire. The obvious effect that travel writing studies has on the academy is the varying historical, social and political perspectives divulged in, often, private travel diaries of people (works from / about females, workers or the non-elite/ non-military traveler) during times of great movement.  The archival of such travel writings allows students to “read against the grain of what they are now regularly taught to see” (Campbell) and rethink sources that shape knowledge (epistemology). Moreover, Pratt’s Imperial Eyes: Travel Writing and Transculturation, a postcolonial study of travel writing, (re)introduced critical vocabulary such as: “contact zones” (7-8), “transculturation” (7), and “autoethnography” (9) in the early 1990s, placing valuable significance on the “other” in travel writing while simultaneously adding to debates on how English scholars “shape-re-member-[an alternative] rhetorical presence" (Glenn 8). With that in mind, both postcolonial and feminist frameworks allow travel writing to highlight themes of power, exploitation, “other” and control.

What is my Contribution to the Field?
I find that most scholarly work I read separates travel writing based on fiction and non-fiction, but I am interested in viewing travel writing inclusively, across sub-disciplines (non-fiction archival material, poetry, novels, etc) through a literary lens in order to show the relationship among self, travel and writing. Travel writing usually contains themes of conquest, subjectivity, and colonialism, so using a postcolonial critical lens is relevant, but a literary studies perspective would allow me to place works like travel diaries in a fresh context and explore the literary devices diarists creatively and purposely used to communicate, perhaps even their postcolonial messages. My past and current research has involved archival travel diaries (the edits and the second thoughts included)  in order to show that self-writing is a tool for perpetually creating and re-creating the self. Additionally, I find that I am most interested in travel diaries affected by the notion of Romantic self.

What do I need for my Scholarly Journey?
In addition to building my background in travel writing theory, my endeavors require a post-modern study of "self". Writing the Self by Peter Heehs has provided a rich and concise introduction to this area for me, as it examines the beginning of the English Romantic movement and its influence on self-writing. Writers such as Wordsworth, Coleridge, Keats, and of course the esoteric Romantic, William Blake, helped shape what Western romanticism is all about: the individual, nature, the divine creation of imagination and the potential for greatness (genius or "God", really) in the common man. The poet was not only a creator, but to many like Keats, the poet was a creator of self. The possibilities were explosive because suddenly “human beings could change their natures, decide their values, determine their aims. This altered the whole idea of what constituted a self and radically changed the relationship between self and society” (Heehs 112).  

If Romantics saw themselves as self-creators, then the modern diary, as we know it (or even the concept of social media, for that matter), is a pretty Romantic notion. Margo Culley argues that diarists portray “not a self in any total sense, but a self which is to some degree a fiction, a construction” (12). Perhaps this is surprising to most, but as Francine Prose reveals, diarists like Anne Frank for example, often revise their work, revision that entails highly literary considerations, especially in the creation of the author as a character- a persona in the text. Culley's scholarship points out the role of the diary author as both creator and literary character in a hybrid of fiction and truth: “It is a paradox that the process whose frequent goal is to establish self-continuity involves at its heart a dislocation from the self, or a turning of subject into object. Even in some of the earliest American women’s diaries we can see this kind of ‘double consciousness,’ as the self stands apart to view the self” (Culley 10).
I value Culley and Prose's perspective because it is rare and insightful: diaries are literary constructs, not simply historical artifacts. Culley's work with diaries written by females, including travel accounts, prompts her to make the case that diarists do not write in a vacuum, and their writing is artfully crafted. While diaries, such as those written by women, are appealing to feminist historians and/ or postcolonial critics for their varying perspectives, I agree with Culley that dairies are also literature: "The process of selection and arrangement of detail in the text raises an array of concerns appropriately 'literary,' including questions of audience (real or implied), narrative, shape and structure, persona, voice, imagistic and thematic repetition, and what James Olney calls 'metaphors of self'" (10).
Additionally, Heehs asserts that in the 19th century, thinkers pondered on the fact that humans are able to construct a self for the masses, and still have a private self in which they are (perhaps) truly themselves. Those like Thomas Merton (Wisdom of the Desert, Zen and the Birds of Appetite) asserted that individuals already have a real self inside, but there is also a “false personality that is the creature of [their] own appetite for esteem” (Merton qtd. in Heehs 205).
When I consider travel diaries, which have been my primary objects of study, I often see the public and private self in terms of inner and outer journey. In "Women Travel Writers and the Question of Veracity," scholar Maureen Mulligan explains how "emotional or spiritual journeys" allow more “literary” conventions such as poetry, suspense, characterization, symbolism, for example; so while the truth of what happened is questionable, the writing will point out what Mulligan refers to as “inner truth,” or as I like to see it the “inner journey” (171) of the writer. Sometimes that “inner journey” requires some help that comes in the form of exaggerations or outright lies.

Lavinia Spalding, editor of The Best Women's Travel Writing, describes the power of travel tales, but I find most people pigeonhole travel writing in this manner. The possibilities are more expansive than this.

If diaries are literary constructs and not simply historical, archival material, Culley asks “How, then, do we read a diary, whether an original manuscript or an edited version, with an awareness that it is a verbal construct with important relationships to other forms of literature such as… fiction? “ (16). I am excited about this question because it is overlooked, especially given the often used postcolonial lens with diary work, and even more so with travel diaries.

Roadblocks and Detours: How will I Navigate through the Major Debates?

Personally, this semester's discussions and readings have emphasized the uncertain future of English Studies, namely the sub-disciplines of Literature and Cultural Studies. As English departments dissolve and sub-disciplines create their own academic and department-based identities, I see there is a hard push for Literature to have serviceable meaning to the University and its surrounding communities because money/ power is what matters to higher education administration (Banks). At my own non-English department campus, I work in a Writing Studies department, and I see first-hand how Rhet/ Comp seems to have the angle on marketability. Literature is on life support.
Travel Writing works that Spalding advertises in the above video certainly have meaning- Facebook likes and shares, retweets, study abroad and service learning courses and an impact that will surely inspire readers to write more. There’s nothing bad about that, but my interests in travel writing are somewhat hard to categorize neatly this way.
If I want to study/ teach imaginary travel in the poetry of Emily Dickinson, will that draw money students into my classroom? Probably not. But if I teach a Travel Writing course in a Writing Studies Department as an elective for Rhetoric & Composition Studies B.A., then now I am onto something (and I can certainly insert Emily on my syllabus readings). In other words, I can focus my teaching on the rhetoric of travel or travel writing discourse and be able to cast a wide net, encompassing literature, non-fiction, poetry and self-writing. I guess I am learning how marketable my sub-discipline will be in higher education, and while that is a depressing road to go down, it is also realistic and helps me strategize how to best market myself and my courses. Yet I still find myself wondering about students like me, those who see themselves neither "here" nor "there", but a hybrid of English Studies. I have benefited, in my own work, from inclusivity, and I can now confidently say that I am an scholar of English Studies who focuses on themes of travel, and people can take that as they want (at least until I start my post-PhD job search 😉) because like Banks, I wonder: "while decisions to separate [English sub-disciplines] are valid and worth considering, I believe it's also worth considering more fully the important work we do by staying together" (104).

Works Cited
Banks, William P. "Embracing the Conflicts: An Argument Against Separating Writing Studies from English Studies". Transforming English Studies: New Voices in an Emerging Genre." Ed. Claire Oostergaard, Jeff Ludwig & Jim Nugent. Lafayette: Parlor, 2009. pp. 100-21.
Culley, Margo. Introduction. A Day at a Time: The Diary Literature of American Women from 1764 to the Present, edited by Culley. The Feminist Press, 1985. pp. 3-26.
Glenn, Cheryl. Rhetoric Retold : Regendering The Tradition From Antiquity Through The Renaissance. Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press, 1997. eBook Collection (EBSCOhost). Web. 21 Sept. 2016.
Heehs, Peter. Writing the Self: Diaries, Memoirs, and the History of the Self. New York: Bloomsbury P, 2013.
Helmers, Marguerite and Tilar J. Mazzeo. "Unraveling the Traveling Self." The Traveling and Writing Self." Ed. Helmers & Mazzeo. Newcastle: Cambridge, 2007. pp.1-18.
Mulligan, Maureen. "Women Travel Writers and the Question of Veracity." Women, Travel Writing, and Truth. Ed. Clare Broome Saunders. New York: Routledge, 2012. pp. 171-184.
Pratt, Mary Louise. Imperial Eyes: Travel Writing and Transculturation. 2nd ed., Routledge, 1992.
Prose, Francine. "Reclaiming Anne Frank's Diary as Literature." YouTube, uploaded by Big Think, 23 Apr. 2012, https://youtu.be/t0VYWndMWTs.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

English 810, Paper 5: Objects of Study


I think when colleagues or friends hear that I study and write about travel writing, they think of those articles in airline magazines tucked into the pockets of plane seats. You know, the luxuriously reported adventures: “Best Places to Eat like a Local in Dubai” or “Greece’s Secret AgroTourism: How to Say ‘Opa!’”
Nope. Not me. And even if I was interested in that kind of travel writing it would most likely be through a postcolonial lens of Marxist rhetoric.
My focus for the last few years has been 19th century American travel diaries, so not exactly Elizabeth Gilbert, and that’s fine with me. Diarists such as Susan Shelby Magoffin, Isabella Lucy Bird and Amelia Stewart Knight produced the kinds of works I study in order to understand the relationship between writing and travel (and the many layers in between). In addition to diaries, travel writing scholars also study maps, charts, journals, letters, advertisements, and (surprising to most), fiction and poetry. Truly, the focus is theme and not genre which I consider a benefit to this inclusive field.
Yale's Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library houses some of the rarest, unique manuscripts in existence, and I am fortunate to have worked with their diaries in my travel writing scholarship.

Diaries and Major Questions
One of the major questions in this sub-discipline is “What is a travel writer?”, and critics such as Fussell often leave out those whose movement creates guidebooks, maps, or even the online reviews that 21st century movers depend on: “Guidebooks belong to the world of journalism, and they date; travel books belong to the literature, and they last. Guidebooks are not autobiographical but travel books are, and if the personality they reveal is too commonplace and un-eccentric, they will not be very readable” (15). Obviously, Fussell's point of view, albeit rare in this field, would cut the OOS selection down to fiction and only certain subjectively acceptable diaries and journals.
The Appeal of the Diary as an OOS
Scholars like me are interested in dusty, fragile diaries because they provide unique historical, social and political perspectives often from people outside the scope of conventional authority: works from / about females, workers or the non-elite/ non-military traveler during times of great movement.  Within English Studies, around the time of the Civil Rights movement, faculty have been pursuing these kinds of readings with hopes to "bring traditionally marginalized voices into the curriculum" (McDonald 150). The archival of such travel writings allows students to “read against the grain of what they are now regularly taught to see” (Campbell) and rethink sources that shape knowledge (epistemology). For example, The 1970s movements in feminism saw a resurgence of interest in women’s travel writing that had long been “superficially ... strongly associated with men” (Thompson 3). Moreover, Pratt’s Imperial Eyes: Travel Writing and Transculturation, a postcolonial study of travel writing, (re)introduced critical vocabulary such as: “contact zones” (7-8), “transculturation” (7), and “autoethnography” (9) in the early 1990s, placing valuable significance on the “other” in travel writing while simultaneously adding to debates on how English scholars “shape-re-member-[an alternative] rhetorical presence" (Glenn 8).
Critical Lenses and Diaries
Because diaries and journals are troubling objects of study for multiple reasons (i.e. unreliable narrators, biased editors and censorship), I have discovered that one solution to approach this problem is to view non-fiction travel writing with the same literary lens I use when studying fiction. For example, my current project views 19th century women’s travel writing and the consistent use of pathetic fallacy to encode messages that, otherwise, they would be unable to communicate. My literary studies background allows me to read these archival texts with an eye for devices commonly associated with fiction- another overlap in English Studies.
In fact, Margo Culley, a feminist historian who has worked extensively with female travel diaries, warns readers that even in the most seemingly transparent writings, “all diarists are involved in a process, even if largely unconscious, of selecting details to create a persona” (12). Thus, travel writers have the opportunity to place themselves at the center of their saga in order to actualize their experience as intrepid (in an effort for financial gain, fame, cultural capital) instead of gaining deeper insight from the experience itself. Their writing then appropriates places and people as experiences which can be sold through literature or plane tickets.
When I consider travel diaries, which are my primary objects of study, I often see the public and private self in terms of inner and outer journey. In "Women Travel Writers and the Question of Veracity," scholar Maureen Mulligan explains how "emotional or spiritual journeys" allow more “literary” conventions such as poetry, suspense, characterization, symbolism, for example; so while the truth of what happened is questionable, the writing will point out what Mulligan refers to as “inner truth,” or as I like to see it the “inner journey” (171) of the writer. Sometimes that “inner journey” requires some help that comes in the form of exaggerations or outright lies- what I would label "fictionalization".
If diaries are literary constructs and not simply historical, archival material, Culley asks “How, then, do we read a diary, whether an original manuscript or an edited version, with an awareness that it is a verbal construct with important relationships to other forms of literature such as… fiction? “ (16). This is the question I think is overlooked, especially given the often used postcolonial lens with diary work, and even more so with travel diaries.
Works Cited
Campbell, Mary Baine. “Travel Writing and its Theory.” The Cambridge Companion to Travel Writing. edited by Peter Hulme and Tim Youngs, Kindle ed., Cambridge UP, 2006.
Culley, Margo. Introduction. A Day at a Time: The Diary Literature of American Women from 1764 to the Present, edited by Culley. The Feminist Press, 1985. pp. 3-26.
Fussell, Paul. Introduction. The Norton Book of Travel, by Fussel. Norton, 1987. pp. 13-17.
Glenn, Cheryl. Rhetoric Retold : Regendering The Tradition From Antiquity Through The Renaissance. Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press, 1997. eBook Collection (EBSCOhost). Web. 21 Sept. 2016.
McDonald, Marcia A. "The Purpose of the Univeersity and the Definition of English Studies: A Necessary Dialogue." Transforming English Studies: New Voices in an Emerging Genre." Ed. Claire Oostergaard, Jeff Ludwig & Jim Nugent. Lafayette: Parlor, 2009. pp. 143-62.
Mulligan, Maureen. "Women Travel Writers and the Question of Veracity." Women, Travel Writing, and Truth. Ed. Clare Broome Saunders. New York: Routledge, 2012. pp. 171-184.
Pratt, Mary Louise. Imperial Eyes: Travel Writing and Transculturation. 2nd ed., Routledge, 1992.
----. "The Rough Guide to Geopolitics with Mary Louise Pratt." YouTube, uploaded by Journeys: Chicago Humanities Festival, 10 Dec. 2014, https://youtu.be/5AnyBlkqaxw.

Thursday, November 3, 2016

English 810, Paper 4: Common Theories and Methods in Travel Writing

As I’ve discussed in an earlier post, studying travel writing requires scholars to first contextualize the writing to understand concepts such as genre, authorship, veracity, etc. This can be incredibly difficult as writing with travel themes overlaps across genres. Despite the division among travel writing scholars’ perspectives, the two overwhelmingly dominant theoretical frameworks to view travel literature are postcolonial and feminist criticism.
Postcolonial Framework
Foundational postcolonial critic, Edward Said borrows Michel Foucault’s theory of discourse to explore the term “orientalism” as a “system of knowledge” (73) the West (namely America, France and Britain) uses to explain, think / write about the Middle East and India. Said affirms that this discourse not only perpetuates cultural, social, imperialistic expectations of the the Orient, but it also helps shape Western identity (68). As this discourse exists, “European culture was able to . . . produce . . . the Orient politically, sociologically, militarily, ideologically, scientifically, and imaginatively during the post-Enlightenment period” in an effort to simultaneously dominate the Orient and define itself as superior (70).
Studying this discourse requires Said to survey a wide variety of writers and works: “Thus a very large mass of writers, among whom are poets, novelists, philosophers, political theorists, economists, and imperial administrators, have accepted the basic distinction between East and West as the starting point for elaborate theories” (69). While he admits how problematic it can be to study such an expansive range of genres, Said’s loyalty to a cultural studies and postcolonial lens demands this inclusion.
The varying types of writers- journalists, missionaries, tourists, scientists, novelists- perpetuates “positional superiority” over the Orient, providing “a whole series of possible relationships with the Orient without ever losing him the upper hand” (73). Moreover, Said argues that Orientalism is produced by agents involved “in his own circumstances” (77); in other words, there are no pure individuals studying a the Orient- there are “Americans”, “Europeans”, etc., who bring with them all the traditional and preconceived expectations of the Orient, but most importantly, they bring positions of dominance. It is because of this framework that Said insists that Orientalism has “less to do with the Orient than it does with ‘our’ world,” reaffirming power roles (79).
Orientalism asks theoretical questions like: “How did philology, lexicography, history,. . . political . . . theory, novel-writing, and lyric poetry come to the service of Orientalism’s broadly imperialist view of the world?...How does Orientalism transmit or reproduce itself from one epoch to another” (81)?  
To answer such questions, Said uses what he calls “strategic location” to study an “author’s position in a text with regard to the Oriental material he writes about” (86) in order to understand how an author uses translations, “narrative voice,” or other literary and rhetorical choices to connect with other works which guarantee the author’s perspectives. Said is careful to point out that the results are only representations of audience expectations of the Orient: “the audience is watching a highly artificial enactment of what a non-Oriental has made into a symbol for the whole Orient” (87).
Feminist Framework
For travel writing scholars, the work of feminist historians is invaluable.  For example, The 1970s movements in feminism saw a resurgence of interest in women’s travel writing that had long been “superficially ... strongly associated with men” (Thompson 3), namely the travel writing from the 19th-century American West; the discourse of the frontier (both in fiction and nonfiction) provides feminist historians a plethora of first person narrative accounts of a time of great mobility, cultural exchange, warfare and political and global restructuring.
In this short news report, it becomes quickly obvious how difficult using diaries as objects of study can be, but with 21st century digitization technology, diaries and travel logs are more accessible to a wider audience.

The majority of the hundreds of diaries of the 1800s in America document the experience of The Overland Trail, linking the east with California or Oregon. John M. Faragher, author of Women and Men on The Overland Trail, estimates that from 1840 through 1870 as many as “half a million individuals traveled the overland route to the Pacific Coast and other parts of the West” (11), and Lillian Schlissel, author of Women’s Diaries of the Westward Journey, describes how “Over 800 diaries and day journals kept by those who made the overland journey have been published or cataloged in archives, and many more are still in family collections” (11).
These diaries became important objects of study for feminist historians like Armitage and Jameson who conclude that despite the dailiness that overwhelms female frontier diaries, they are still relevant and perhaps can divulge more authentic information about life on the frontier, exchange with natives and non-white peoples, allowing, at times, rare insights.
Actually, this kind of critical theory is what coaxed me into studying travel writing as a sub-discipline, so it is easy for me to see the benefits of these kinds of conversations- shedding a feminist light on a traditionally male-dominated writing space allows readers with cliché assumptions, like myself, to become curious and ask questions which overlap across disciplines.
What these Theories Share
The leading publisher of travel writing studies is certainly Routledge, and a quick look at Routledge’s research in Travel Writing Studies webpage shows how significant feminist and postcolonial theory continues to be to the study of this genre for the past decade; notable works include Women, Travel Writing, and Truth and Travel Writing, Form, and Empire. The obvious effect that travel writing studies has on the academy is the varying historical, social and political perspectives divulged in, often, private travel diaries of people (works from / about females, workers or the non-elite/ non-military traveler) during times of great movement.  The archival of such travel writings allows students to “read against the grain of what they are now regularly taught to see” (Campbell) and rethink sources that shape knowledge (epistemology). Moreover, Pratt’s Imperial Eyes: Travel Writing and Transculturation, a postcolonial study of travel writing, (re)introduced critical vocabulary such as: “contact zones” (7-8), “transculturation” (7), and “autoethnography” (9) in the early 1990s, placing valuable significance on the “other” in travel writing while simultaneously adding to debates on how English scholars “shape-re-member-[an alternative] rhetorical presence" (Glenn 8). With that in mind, both postcolonial and feminist frameworks allow travel writing to highlight themes of power, exploitation, “other” and control.
Works Cited
Armitage, Susan, and Elizabeth Jameson, eds.  Introduction. The Women’s West. Norman: U of Oklahoma P, 1987. pp. 3-6.
Campbell, Mary Baine. “Travel Writing and its Theory.” The Cambridge Companion to Travel Writing. edited by Peter Hulme and Tim Youngs, Kindle ed., Cambridge UP, 2006.
Faragher, John M. Women and Men on the Overland Trail. New Haven : Yale UP, 1979.
Glenn, Cheryl. Rhetoric Retold : Regendering The Tradition From Antiquity Through The Renaissance. Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press, 1997. eBook Collection (EBSCOhost). Web. 21 Sept. 2016.
Riley, Glenda. Women and Indians on the Frontier, 1825-1915. U of New Mexico P, 1984. eBook Collection (EBSCOhost). http://search.ebscohost.com.ezhost.utrgv.edu:2048/login.aspx?direct=true&db=nlebk&AN=22748&site=ehost-live
Said, Edward. “Orientalism.” The Edward Said Reader, edited by Moustafa Bayoumi & Andrew Rubin, Vintage Books, 2000. pp.63-113.

Schlissel, Lillian, ed. Women’s Diaries of the Westward Journey. New York: Schocken, 1982.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

English 810, PAB 7-8 (Common Theories in Travel Writing)


Said, Edward. “Orientalism.” The Edward Said Reader, edited by Moustafa Bayoumi & Andrew Rubin, Vintage Books, 2000. pp.63-113.
In this 1978 work, Said borrows Michel Foucault’s theory of discourse to explore the term “orientalism” as a “system of knowledge” (73) the West (namely America, France and Britain) uses to explain, think / write about the Middle East and India. Said affirms that this discourse not only perpetuates cultural, social, imperialistic expectations of the the Orient, but it also helps shape Western identity (68). As this discourse exists, “European culture [is] able to . . . produce . . . the Orient politically, sociologically, militarily, ideologically, scientifically, and imaginatively during the post-Enlightenment period” in an effort to simultaneously dominate the Orient and define itself as superior (70).
Studying this discourse requires Said to survey a wide variety of writers and works: “Thus a very large mass of writers, among whom are poets, novelists, philosophers, political theorists, economists, and imperial administrators, have accepted the basic distinction between East and West as the starting point for elaborate theories” (69). While he admits how problematic it can be to study such an expansive range of genres, Said’s loyalty to a cultural studies and postcolonial lens demands this inclusion.
The varying types of writers- journalists, missionaries, tourists, scientists, novelists- perpetuates “positional superiority” over the Orient, providing “a whole series of possible relationships with the Orient without ever losing him the upper hand” (73). Moreover, Said argues that Orientalism is produced by agents involved “in his own circumstances” (77); in other words, there are no pure individuals studying the Orient- there are “Americans”, “Europeans”, etc., who bring with them all the traditional and preconceived expectations of the Orient, but most importantly, they bring positions of dominance. It is because of this framework that Said insists that Orientalism has “less to do with the Orient than it does with ‘our’ world,” reaffirming power roles (79).
Orientalism asks theoretical questions like: “How did philology, lexicography, history,. . . political . . . theory, novel-writing, and lyric poetry come to the service of Orientalism’s broadly imperialist view of the world?...How does Orientalism transmit or reproduce itself from one epoch to another” (81)?  
To answer such questions, Said uses what he calls “strategic location” to study an “author’s position in a text with regard to the Oriental material he writes about” (86) in order to understand how an author uses translations, “narrative voice,” or other literary and rhetorical choices to connect with other works which guarantee the author’s perspectives. Said is careful to point out that the results are only representations of audience expectations of the Orient: “the audience is watching a highly artificial enactment of what a non-Oriental has made into a symbol for the whole Orient” (87).
There are two aspects of Said’s Orientalism that I find most helpful to my work with travel diaries: (1) Said sees little to no difference between archival, historical works and fiction works, such as novels (87,89). (2) Said sees all work as imprinted with cultural residue, culture that has been shaped by discourse that weaves and overlaps across disciplines through “intertextuality” (79); this perhaps allows him such a wide range of objects of study.
While Said’s focus is obviously geographically limited, his perspective provides travel writing scholars food for thought, especially how discourses predetermine travelers experiences and expectations during their journeys.




Armitage, Susan, and Elizabeth Jameson, eds.  Introduction. The Women’s West. Norman: U of Oklahoma P, 1987. pp. 3-6.
A time of particular interest in travel writing is the 19th-century American West. The discourse of the frontier often centers on the wild exploits of the male traveler; however, there is also a plethora of first person narratives written by females, and this vast amount of literature has captivated feminist historians. In their book, The Women’s West, Susan Armitage and Elizabeth Jameson discuss the 19th century as time of great mobility, cultural exchange, warfare and political and global restructuring, all through the context of the female diarists writing the west.
The majority of the hundreds of diaries of the 1800s in America document the experience of The Overland Trail, linking the east with California or Oregon. John M. Faragher, author of Women and Men on The Overland Trail, estimates that from 1840 through 1870 as many as “half a million individuals traveled the overland route to the Pacific Coast and other parts of the West” (11), and Lillian Schlissel, author of Women’s Diaries of the Westward Journey, describes how “Over 800 diaries and day journals kept by those who made the overland journey have been published or catalogued in archives, and many more are still in family collections” (11).
Despite the overwhelming amount of American frontier female travel literature available, it is often excluded from the frontier travel narrative discussion, while male literature of the frontier is often celebrated, is well circulated, and forms the basis of many beliefs about the true happenings, opinions and desires of all Americans—even women—during that time. Feminist historians agree that what men’s frontier literature does best is solidify mythological perspectives of American male heroic caricatures because it centers on hunting, claiming and action.
Armitage and Jameson remind readers of the mythic western protagonist of “Hisland”: “Occupationally, these heroes are diverse: they are mountain men, cowboys, Indians, soldiers, farmers, miners, and desperadoes, but they share one distinguishing characteristic—they are all men” (9). This mythic “Hisland” is often understood as unmitigated history, but it is incomplete; it lacks the contributions of real women who forged the everyday life for everyone around them.  
This roughly 9 minute video produced by Timelines.TV provides a small sample of female travel writing from the time of "Manifest Destiny".

The male frontier travel narrative is often centered on action without relation. In contrast, Riley attributes white and native women’s often positive relationships with one another to their feminine roles: “women, like men, were dedicated to protecting themselves and their families from harm, but they were also constantly concerned with extracting vital resources for their families from the environment and its inhabitants” (169). The female frontier diaries center on homemaking, details and dailiness, and this focus on the private sphere of home is the reason most women’s travel diaries of the American 1800s did not receive much attention until the 1970s.  
For travel writing scholars, the work of feminist historians is invaluable; Armitage and Jameson's work concludes that despite the dailiness that overwhelms female frontier diaries, they are still relevant and perhaps can divulge more authentic information about life on the frontier, exchange with natives and non-white peoples, allowing, at times, rare insights. Actually, this kind of critical theory is what coaxed me into studying travel writing as a sub-discipline, so it is easy for me to see the benefits of these kinds of conversations- shedding a feminist light on a traditionally male-dominated writing space allows readers with cliché assumptions, like myself, to become curious and ask questions which overlap across disciplines.


Works Cited

Faragher, John M. Women and Men on the Overland Trail. New Haven : Yale UP, 1979.
Riley, Glenda. Women and Indians on the Frontier, 1825-1915. U of New Mexico P, 1984. eBook Collection (EBSCOhost). http://search.ebscohost.com.ezhost.utrgv.edu:2048/login.aspx?direct=true&db=nlebk&AN=22748&site=ehost-live
Schlissel, Lillian, ed. Women’s Diaries of the Westward Journey. New York: Schocken, 1982.