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Moving Lives: Twentieth-Century Women’s Travel Writing

Sidonie Smith
Copyright Date: 2001
Edition: NED - New edition
Pages: 262
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  • Book Info
    Moving Lives
    Book Description:

    In Moving Lives Sidonie Smith explores how women’s travel and travel writing in the twentieth century were shaped by particular modes of mobility, asking how the form of travel affected the kind of narrative written.

    eISBN: 978-0-8166-8774-9
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. INTRODUCTION: Vehicular Gender
    (pp. ix-xviii)

    The anthropologist Victor Turner claims that the journey—as event, personal experience, and cultural symbol—accumulates all kinds of communal meanings. Prominent in the repertoire of meanings identified with journeying in the West have been the meanings attached to itinerant masculinity. The historian Eric J. Leed acknowledges the constitutive masculinity of travel when he argues that, “from the time of Gilgamesh,” journeying has served as “the medium of traditional male immortalities,” enabling men to imagine escape from death by the “crossing” of space and the “record[ing]” of adventures “in bricks, books, and stories.” He even labels this travel, which provides...

  5. CHAPTER 1 The Logic of Travel and Technologies of Motion
    (pp. 1-28)

    Between the fourth and the fifteenth centuries, three distinct kinds of travelers traversed the vast and unfamiliar landscapes of Europe: the scholar, the crusader, and the pilgrim. The itinerant scholar became a common figure after the “barbarian” invasions of the fifth to ninth centuries destroyed central libraries and scattered classical texts, and with them classical knowledge, across Europe and Asia. Crisscrossing Europe, the Middle East, and the Far East searching for texts sacred and classical, scholars accumulated whole libraries of knowledge on their backs. Through this journeying they helped bind Christendom, a vast conglomeration of disparate peoples and cultures, into...

  6. CHAPTER 2 On Foot: Gender at Ground Level
    (pp. 29-72)

    Until the middle of the nineteenth century, sailing ships, carriages, horses, or sturdy feet moved bodies through space, so travel had been a rather slow affair. Captain, crew, and passengers of sailing vessels suffered delays in ports, waited for winds, worried through storms, and watched the seemingly interminable cresting of waves. Passengers in carriages and stagecoaches rumbled over rutted roadways, drawn onward by two or four horses of power. Equestrian travelers and those on foot moved arduously forward. The duration of travel stretched across days and weeks and months. But the introduction of the steam engine changed all that. Locomotives...

  7. CHAPTER 3 In the Air: Aerial Gender and the Familiarity of Flight
    (pp. 73-120)

    By the close of the nineteenth century, the secular myth of evolutionary progress had displaced the sacred myth of Christian teleology as the popular narrative of humankind’s destiny. Powerful technologies became the engines of transformation, transcendence, and perfection: the steam engines, the gigantic turbines, and the dynamos Henry Adams eloquently, if ironically, heralds in hisEducation of Henry Adams. Driven by electricity or by steam, these engines of progress whirred away, their pistons thrusting up and down, their capacity for the production of energy seemingly inexhaustible. Across the landscape, that remarkable progress was registered graphically by the locomotive, which chugged...

  8. CHAPTER 4 By Rails: Trains, Tracks, and the Derailments of Identity
    (pp. 121-166)

    With the invention of the “iron horse” in the early nineteenth century, trains became both the literal and figurative dynamos of modernity. They drove the expansion of commercial and communications networks, thereby accelerating the distribution of commodities across vast distances, the attendant accumulation of capital in metropolitan centers, and with that accumulation industrialization and urbanization, all defining conditions of modern nation-states with dreams of preeminence. Their “capacity to reshape . . . environment in order to increase its productivity” made possible as well the efficient organization of vast colonial empires from which raw materials could be extracted with cheap labor...

  9. CHAPTER 5 On the Road: (Auto)Mobility and Gendered Detours
    (pp. 167-202)

    Throughout the nineteenth century, railroad tracks spread over the landscape, carving out rational routes of “progress.” To secure the locomotive purchase on that spread, railway companies in the United States and Europe exerted pressure upon politicians to enact laws that would curb experimentation with other technologies of motion. In the long run, of course, they were unsuccessful, especially in the United States. The explosion of the bicycle craze in the 1890s created the desire for flexible transportation, hard road surfaces, and individualized routes (Flink 7–8). Growing discontent with railroad monopolies created pressure for the development of a good highway...

  10. CODA: Electronic Transport in Cyberspace
    (pp. 203-208)

    As a coda to this discussion of women’s travel narratives and technologies of motion, I want to offer a very brief and provisional meditation on the kinds of travel narratives that might emerge as women become more involved in traveling along the electronic highway. For, undoubtedly, new kinds of travel narratives will emerge with this new technology of postmodernity. In fact, they already are emerging, as we can see from such narratives as Melanie McGrath’sHard, Soft, and Wet: The Digital Generation Comes of Age(1997). I don’t mean to suggest here that cyberspace travel is the next, most advanced...

  11. Notes
    (pp. 209-218)
  12. Works Cited
    (pp. 219-229)
  13. Back Matter
    (pp. 230-230)
  14. Index
    (pp. 231-240)
  15. [Illustrations]
    (pp. None)