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Special issue

The Trap of Visibility?

Surveillance and Gender Performance in Nineteenth-century British Women’s Travel Writing
Le piège de la visibilité ? Jouer le jeu du genre dans le récit de voyage féminin britannique du XIXe siècle
Anne-Florence Quaireau

Résumés

L’étude de Sara Mills portant sur les récits de voyage féminins, Discourses of Difference (1991), fortement foucaldienne, a marqué un tournant dans le champ des études viatiques. Alors que ces récits étaient auparavant considérés comme des témoignages de situations individuelles exceptionnelles, ils en vinrent à être analysés comme les produits de pressions discursives s’exerçant de manière similaire sur les voyageuses, qui s’efforçaient d’anticiper leur réception. Dans le prolongement de cette approche, cet article examine le panoptisme dans le genre du récit de voyage en montrant comment celui-ci, à l'intersection du plan matériel du voyage et du processus discursif de l'écriture, révèle l’intériorisation de la discipline et des relations de pouvoir. À travers l'analyse parallèle de trois récits de voyage féminins, Winter Studies and Summer Rambles in Canada (1838) d'Anna Jameson, A Lady's Life in the Rocky Mountains (1879) d'Isabella Bird et Travels in West Africa (1897) de Mary Kingsley, nous montrons comment les voyageuses jouent le jeu du genre, érigeant leurs vêtements en autant de signes du féminin à destination de leurs contemporains, dans des textes dont la forme autobiographique articule l'écriture de soi et son exposition au public. Nous analysons ainsi comment ces récits illustrent l'intersection de l'individuel et du social dans le façonnement de soi, et comment leurs auteures composent avec la surveillance dont elles font l’objet dans la représentation du genre.

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Texte intégral

Introduction

  • 1 Foucault, Michel, ‘Truth and Juridical Forms’, in Power: Essential Works of Foucault, eds. J.D. Fau (...)

1Historically associated with imperial and scientific pursuits, travel writing long relied on a categorizing gaze. The product of a predominantly visual experience, nineteenth-century travel narratives tended to order space and assign literal and metaphorical places to peoples along the traveller’s journey and survey. They were laced with power dynamics as they recorded and enforced British travellers’ physical and discursive scrutiny of subjugated travellees. This observation of travellees by travellers in asymmetrical power situations, in conjunction with the gathering and recording of information, evoke the surveillance mechanisms at work in Jeremy Bentham’s Panopticon and the intertwinement of knowledge and power evidenced by Michel Foucault in The Archeology of Knowledge (1969). Inspired by Bentham’s plans, Michel Foucault, in Discipline and Punish (1975), devised the concept of panopticism, ‘a type of power that is applied to individuals in the form of continuous individual supervision, in the form of control, punishment, and compensation, and in the form of correction, that is, the modelling and transforming of individuals in terms of certain norms.’1 The visibility-invisibility dyad is thus at the heart of Bentham’s and Foucault’s concepts and of the relation between the two. While the Panopticon opposes the visibility of the inmate to the invisibility of the warder, panopticism points to the power of the internalized gaze and its consequence on bodies and behaviours in a surveillance society, whereby the pervasive discipline produces visible effects.

  • 2 Pratt, Mary Louise, Imperial Eyes: Travel Writing and Transculturation, (London, Routledge, 1992), (...)

2This article assesses the enduring impact of Foucauldian theory on travel writing studies, while exploring the import of panopticism more specifically. The concept has indeed mainly been read and used in travel writing studies either with its source of inspiration, the Panopticon prison, in mind, or with other Foucauldian concepts.2 Bentham’s plan implied mortar and concrete walls, while Foucault’s theory lays emphasis on the internalization and intangible nature of surveillance. I endeavour to point out the specific import of panopticism to travel writing studies, and more specifically to gender studies in the field, by looking at nineteenth-century British women’s travel writing.

  • 3 Foucault, Michel, ‘Truth and Juridical Forms’, p.70

3Bentham’s project was elaborated in the last decade of the eighteenth century but Michel Foucault dates panopticism itself to the beginning of the nineteenth century.3 Bentham developed applications of his plan for education and politics between the 1810s and the 1830s, which also corresponds to the time when penitentiaries–more or less inspired by, and faithful to, his prison scheme–began to appear. Panopticism has moreover been most influential on travel writing studies focusing on the nineteenth century as the heyday of colonialism and imperialism. The concept points to the fact that the individual, their behaviour, and their identity are moulded by social forces which have been and are being internalized, and this internalization of what Foucault calls discipline occurs through discourse. This article therefore also contends that travel writing is a genre whose study proves particularly enlightening to understand panopticism, which it both illustrates and implements.

  • 4 See for instance Thompson, Carl, ‘Travellers’ Tales: Fact and Fiction in Travel Writing’ in Travel (...)

4While travel writing is usually classified as non-fiction, because of its sometimes-descriptive approach and its referential basis, travel narratives can also be creative, almost fictitious, an element which has garnered a lot of critical attention and spurred theoretical discussions about their truthfulness.4 Did nineteenth-century travel narratives simply record reality, or did they shape the reality they purported to document? This question applies to the peoples discussed in the narratives, and to the representation of the traveller as well. Travel writing provides a stimulating illustration of the way panopticism works through an internalization of the gaze: these narratives contributed to enforcing discipline, while instantiating it, mainly because of the travellers’ awareness of the metropole readership to whom they addressed their narratives.

  • 5 Dunlaith Bird, ‘Gender’, in Keywords for Travel Writing Studies: A Critical Glossary, eds. Charles (...)
  • 6 Thompson, Carl, ‘Journeys to Authority: Reassessing Women's Early Travel Writing, 1763–1862’, Women (...)
  • 7 Viviès, Jean, English Travel Narratives in the Eighteenth Century: Exploring Genres, trans. Claire (...)
  • 8 Foucault notes that the Panopticon ‘also enables everyone to come and observe any of the observers. (...)

5Even though women have always travelled, travel writing was gendered as male5 until the nineteenth century saw an increase in the number of travel narratives published by women, to the extent that that became a trend in itself.6 For women travellers the element of invention, which had become an intrinsic part of the genre,7 opened the door to the possibility of self-fashioning and revisiting gender norms in spite of the disciplinary. As imperial subjects, women travellers could observe and figuratively tower over indigenous peoples in the periphery. As women, however, they remained fundamentally subjected to the controlling gaze of the metropole. The complexity of their positioning, with the watcher being watched, recalls Bentham’s design in which the warder is watched by the public.8 Indeed, surveillance inside the Panopticon was multidirectional and was not limited to a unilateral gaze exercised from the central watchtower on inmates.

6Foucault’s panopticism emphasizes internalized surveillance, which emerges discernibly in women’s travel writing. Through their writings, they subjected themselves to the observation (and evaluation) of their readers. The narrative which exhibited (and possibly exposed) them became the locus of the enforcement of social constraints and possible negotiation of them. While travelling, Victorian women, whose bodies were covered and made invisible by social conventions in Britain, took centre stage both in the action of travelling and in its narration. Their first-person narratives, which often took an introspective form such as a diary or a collection of personal letters, grant readers and critics access to their authors’ mindsets and behaviours on the journey. We can thus examine how they presented themselves, their bodies, as well as access their thoughts filtered by the awareness of being observed by their readers. This article aims to show that these travel narratives evidence gender performance in combination with surveillance. As women travellers enacted femininity through their clothing and behaviour for the benefit of their contemporaries, in texts whose form articulated introspection and exhibition to the public, concealment and disclosure, travel writing offers a particularly fruitful gateway to a study of the intersection of the individual and the social in the self.

  • 9 Anna Jameson travelled in Upper Canada in 1837, while her husband was Attorney General of Upper Can (...)
  • 10 They justified their autonomous travels in different ways, Bird indicating health reasons while Kin (...)
  • 11 Robinson, Jane, Wayward Women: A Guide to Women Travellers (Oxford, Oxford University Press, 1990), (...)

7This article examines these aspects in three British women’s narratives which span the nineteenth century: Anna Jameson’s Winter Studies and Summer Rambles in Canada (1838), Isabella Bird’s A Lady’s Life in the Mountains (1879) and Mary Kingsley’s Travels in West Africa (1897). Although these narratives have received steady critical attention over the years (Kingsley’s in particular), none of these has ever been studied through the specific angle of panopticism, nor have they been considered together specifically. If these narratives bear on different parts of the world and were written and published at different points of the century,9 they were all written by British women who travelled without a chaperone and were the sole authors of their narratives, which, as I will show, share a certain number of features. As solitary travellers and writers, these women must have anticipated that their narratives and journeys would be subjected to even more scrutiny. While Anna Jameson was married (though only in name), Isabella Bird and Mary Kingsley were both single at the time of their journeys,10 somewhat contributing to the stereotype of the female traveller as the intrepid Victorian spinster vigorously prodding the ends of the earth with her parasol.’11

Michel Foucault and Travel Writing Studies

  • 12 Said, Edward, Orientalism (New York, Vintage Books, 1979), p.41
  • 13 Regard, Frédéric, ‘Fantasmes et chimères du descriptif ethnographique : deux études de cas, Persona (...)

8Michel Foucault’s concept of panopticism, along with those of discourse and discipline, have proven crucial in travel writing studies as a whole, as they contributed to the cultural turn in the field in the 1980s. Travel narratives went from being read for their historical value or illustrative quality to being analysed as the very sites where identities and power dynamics were elaborated and/or contested, as illustrated by Edward Said’s Orientalism (1979), or by Sara Mills’ Discourses of Difference (1991) in the case of women’s travel writing. Drawing on Foucault’s work on discourse, Edward Said has showed how Orientalism, defined as ‘knowledge of the Orient that places things Oriental in class, court, prison, or manual for scrutiny, study, judgment, discipline, or governing,’12 must be analysed as a discourse which contributed to the power of Western empires. This knowledge, elaborated in part through travel narratives, constructed an identity for the West to set itself off against. The nineteenth-century traveller, often a would-be ethnologist, appeared in their narrative ‘as a ‘panoptic’ subject, autonomous and transcendental, and in the end ‘allochronic’, always escaping the materiality of the immediate encounter.’13 The nineteenth-century traveller contributed to gathering information (if not intelligence, as in the case of Richard Burton dressing up as a Bedouin to enter Mecca) about the land they visited and its peoples. In an asymmetrical power distribution, in fact, even innocuous-seeming statements contributed to supporting a country’s hold over another, and travellers subjected travellees to their observation without allowing reciprocity.

  • 14 Korte, Barbara, English Travel Writing: From Pilgrimages to Postcolonial Explorations (1996), trans (...)

9As a literary genre, travel writing intersects individual and collective identities: in the nineteenth century in particular, it had a decisive influence on the definition of identities, be that of travellees, travellers, or readers. As scientific and commercial interests aligned with political ones, travellers from the metropole to colonized areas appeared as representatives of the British Empire. Even when they were not sent in some capacity to strike commercial deals or investigate geographical conundrums, they presented themselves, and were perceived, as British. In their narratives, they highlighted their Britishness by drawing attention to their maintaining some cultural activities, clothing etiquette, or specific speech. They also constantly compared what they were seeing to what they had left, which was the common ground they shared with their readers and a way to make the unknown more easily knowable. Besides the imperial nature of their activity abroad, their narratives themselves contributed to the consolidation of the Empire and its ideology, as they were written for a British readership, with whom they were immensely popular. What is more, as the travel writer is both the narrator and the character of their narrative, they exhibited themself to the gaze of home readers. The travel narrative thus set the traveller up for several audiences, that of the people they met on their journey, as well as readers of the text at home.14 Travel writers were very much aware that they were subjected to the examination of their countrymen and women through the publication of their narratives, as the frequent use of profuse paratext in travel writing testifies. This awareness influenced both the way they behaved abroad and the way they wrote about it.

  • 15 Mills, Sara, Discourses of Difference: An Analysis of Women’s Travel Writing and Colonialism (New Y (...)
  • 16 Mills, S., Discourses of Difference, p.108

10In her study of nineteenth-century women’s travel writing, Discourses of Difference, Sara Mills shows that women travellers’ narratives share features, not because of their authors’ similar intrinsic characteristics, but because literary production by women was subjected to the same expectations and their authors to the same norms which they had internalized. Sara Mills’ Foucauldian method was crucial in breaking new ground in travel writing studies. Her use of Foucault’s concepts of discourse spearheaded a shift from an essentialist approach to a cultural analysis of women’s travel writing, as she put forward that ‘the difference is not a simplistic textual distinction between men’s writing on the one hand and women’s writing on the other, but rather a series of discursive pressures on production and reception which female writers have to negotiate, in very different ways to males.’15 To illustrate how these narratives were fashioned by readers’ expectations, Mills gives the example of publishers who refused to print, or excised passages, that did not adhere to their (and society’s) conception of what a woman could do or be. Women travellers thus learned to anticipate these reactions and devised their narratives accordingly.16

  • 17 Korte, Barbara, English Travel Writing: From Pilgrimages to Postcolonial Explorations (1996), trans (...)

11Even though Mills does not mention panopticism at this point, this recalls the process of internalization of surveillance which Foucault underlined in Bentham’s project. Like the inmate who always behaves as if they were being observed, women travellers adapted their narratives to correspond to the expectations of their British readership, even when they were thousands of kilometers away. Because ‘[w]omen […] travel not only as representatives of their gender, but also as members of their particular society and culture,’17 nineteenth-century women travellers were aware that they were exposing themselves, through the publication of their travel narratives, to scrutiny and criticism. Their bodies in particular were subjected to social norms, even though they were in a different context, or rather even more so because they were not in Britain. Women’s bodies were made visible just as they were covered and hidden, all the more so as travelling was thought of first and foremost as a physical activity.

Performing Femininity: (Un)Covering the Travelling Body

12In her Vindication of the Rights of Women (1792), Mary Wollstonecraft deplores that a female traveller

  • 18 Wollstonecraft, Mary, A Vindication of the Rights of Woman, London, J. Johnson, 1792, pp.128-129. S (...)

thinks more [than a man] of the incidental occurrences, the strange things that may possibly occur on the road; the impression that she may make on her fellow travellers; and, above all, she is anxiously intent on the care of the finery that she carries with her, which is more than ever a part of herself, when going to figure on a new scene; when, to use an apt French turn of expression, she is going to produce a sensation.18

13Wollstonecraft laments the superficiality of the travelling experience for the female traveller who has, of necessity, internalized the gaze of the other which she cannot escape. The vocabulary used points to the idea of a performance with ‘the impression she may make’, ‘to figure on a new scene’, and ‘to produce a sensation’, with both an audience (‘on her fellow travellers’) and props (‘the finery that she carries with her’). This creative act (as the two verbs ‘make’ and ‘produce’ underline) is aimed at her ‘fellow travellers’, and thus fellow-countrymen, not at the locals. Wollstonecraft underlines the influence of the ‘new scene’ on the identity of the traveller, how being abroad calls for a particular display, and how the performance affects their essence (‘which is more than ever a part of herself’).

  • 19 Trollope, Anthony, Travelling Sketches, London, Chapman and Hall, 1866, p.39
  • 20 Foster, Shirley and Sara Mills, An Anthology of Women’s Travel Writing (2002) (Manchester/New York, (...)
  • 21 Foster, S. and S. Mills, An Anthology of Women’s Travel Writing, p.9

14Decades later, Anthony Trollope similarly satirized the solitary female traveller for her sartorial preoccupations, wondering ‘why [she has] been so careful with her gloves, and her hat, and all her feminine belongings’ if she has intended ‘to move about the world as though, for her, men and women were all the same.’19 Trollope’s comment brings to light the critical observation women travellers were subjected to, as well as the way their travelling alone was interpreted as ‘challeng[ing] the seeming masculinity of the public sphere.’20 The attention they devoted to their clothing was derided and pointed to as proof of their vanity, but what other choices did they have? This layering of clothing and ostentation of signs of femininity protected them on their journeys which, ‘as [Lillias Campbell] Davidson herself [in Hints to Lady Travellers at Home and Abroad (1889)] suggests, was often the best weapon against offensive male behavior and molestation,’21 as well as in their narratives.

  • 22 Henry Scadding reports overhearing Jameson mentioning it: ‘I also gathered that a Bible and Shakesp (...)

15Women travellers omitted to mention the existence of such threats in their narratives. Anna Jameson, for instance, carried a stiletto as she travelled Upper Canada in 1837 but never mentions it in her travel narrative.22 Isabella Bird’s justification, first of her carrying a gun, and then of her discarding it, emphasizes the lack of compatibility of this masculine instrument, both in practice and symbolism, with conventional Victorian femininity:

  • 23 Bird, I., A Lady’s Life, p.207

I never told you that I once gave an unwary promise that I would not travel alone in Colorado unarmed, and that in consequence I left Estes Park with a Sharp’s revolver loaded with ball-cartridge in my pocket, which has been the plague of my life. Its bright ominous barrel peeped out in quiet Denver shops, children pulled it out to play with, or when my riding-dress hung up with it in the pocket, pulled the whole from the peg to the floor: and I cannot think of any circumstances in which I could feel it right to make any use of it, or in which it could do me any possible good. Last night, however, I took it out, cleaned and oiled it, and laid it under my pillow, resolving to keep awake all night. I slept as soon as I lay down, and never woke till the bright morning sun shone through the roof, making me ridicule my own fears and abjure pistols for ever!23

  • 24 ‘On my telling [Jim] that I travelled unarmed, he could hardly believe it, and adjured me to get a  (...)

16To warrant her infringement of gender roles, Bird resorts to conventional narrative devices. She frames this remark and deviation within the domestic bounds of a feminine exchange, as the second-person pronoun refers to Henrietta, her sister, as I will discuss later. The mention of the pistol, a metonymic instrument that was to men what the parasol was to women, is carefully introduced through a double apologia. Her transgressive behaviour is presented as the consequence of moral steadfastness and of actual submission to patriarchal rule, as that promise was made to a man.24 Bird defers to this authority while underlining her lack of adherence to this decision through the expression of distance, both temporal (‘once’) and intellectual (‘unwary’). While the initial addressee was her sister, Bird’s awareness of a larger readership’s consideration of her actions transpires through her careful enumeration of feminine preserves which clash with the phallic instrument: maintaining a household (shopping ‘in quiet Denver shops’), maternity (being around children) and decency (feminine clothing, here her riding-dress). Her falling asleep while on watch conjures up the motif of the weak feminine vessel, and the episode concludes with the expressive assertion of the lack of danger and therefore necessity for a weapon to defend herself. Solitary women travellers had to take even more precautions in their narratives to ensure a benevolent reception, as their travelling—but also their writing—alone unsettled the social distribution and construction of gender roles.

  • 25 See for instance Dowie, Ménie Muriel, A Girl in the Karpathians (1891).
  • 26 Bassnett, Susan, ‘Travel writing and gender’ in The Cambridge Companion to Travel Writing, eds. Pet (...)
  • 27 Foster, S. and S. Mills, An Anthology of Women’s Travel Writing, p.3

17Barring a few exceptions,25 nineteenth-century British women made a point of travelling dressed in female clothing and of showcasing it in their narratives, as an ‘assertion of femininity’26 in the context of a masculine endeavour. They appeared to travel in their usual attire, with umbrella, gloves, and the whole paraphernalia. Clothing is indeed ‘a form of performance art, signalling identity and cultural belonging’, as well as gender.27 The nationality and gender of women travellers were thus coded, both for the people they met on their journeys and for their readership at home. Even when it proved most inconvenient, they retained the culturally encoded signs of gender, thus conveying the idea that even in foreign, uncivilized lands, they remained as British as ever, and as womanly as ever, the latter being defined by the former.

18This is very striking in Anna Jameson’s drawing The Canoe on Lake Huron,28 part of her Canadian sketchbook, which shows two canoes, the canoe in which she was travelling in the forefront, as well the second canoe of their party in the background.

Anna Jameson, The Canoe on Lake Huron

Anna Jameson, The Canoe on Lake Huron

Source: Toronto Reference Library, n° 966-6L

  • 29 Jameson, Anna, Winter Studies and Summer Rambles in Canada (1838) (Toronto, McClelland & Stewart, T (...)

19Jameson can easily be recognized thanks to the single parasol and bonnet in the drawing: ‘The party consisted altogether of twenty-two persons, viz. twenty-one men, and myself, the only woman.’29 Other noteworthy elements include the top hat and dark suit of the person sitting next to her, thus identifying Mr. Jarvis, Chief Superintendent of Indian Affairs for Upper Canada, who too retains the social codes of gender and social class. Similar strategies are implemented in the narrative, but the drawing renders even more visible the dynamics of panopticism by the sheer impossibility of its strict referentiality. Jameson could not physically be in two places at the same time, and yet produces an impossible outside representation of herself, underlining her awareness of appearances and of an outside perception of herself.

20The text betrays the same awareness of her being observed along British standards of propriety. Her femininity is underlined through a series of objects, which work as metonymies of femininity, even as props:

  • 30 Jameson, A., Winter Studies and Summer Rambles, p.565

in the first canoe were Mr. Jarvis and myself; the governor’s son, a lively boy of fourteen or fifteen, old Solomon the interpreter, and seven voyageurs. […] I had near me my cloak, umbrella, and parasol; my note-books and sketch-books, and a little compact basket always by my side, containing eau de Cologne, and all those necessary luxuries which might be wanted in a moment, for I was well resolved that I would occasion no trouble but what was inevitable.30

  • 31 Roy, Wendy, Maps of Difference: Canada, Women, and Travel (Montréal, McGill-Queen’s University Pre (...)

21As Wendy Roy points out, Jameson defuses the possible threatening aspects of her being the only woman with twenty-one men in the Canadian wilderness by putting forward specimens of men who are either too young (‘boy of fourteen or fifteen’) or too old (‘old Solomon’) to be threatening.31 The seven other men in the canoe are grouped without any specific comment, other than their being ‘voyageurs’ that is to say subalterns in British eyes.

  • 32 See also Quaireau, Anne-Florence, ‘De femme à femme : la ‘refiguration’ de la lectrice dans Winter (...)
  • 33 Foster, S. and S. Mills, An Anthology of Women’s Travel Writing, p.8

22This rhetorical strategy evidences Jameson’s constant awareness that her narrative is addressed to a British readership and that social constraints keep applying even in the Canadian wilderness. This performance of femininity through descriptive proliferation is not for the benefit of her companions, but for that of her readers. The enumeration of ‘cloak, umbrella, and parasol’ may seem redundant, as these three objects serve a similar purpose. While they protect the traveller from the weather on her journey, they also protect the traveller in her narrative by underlining, through repetition and multiplication, the different layers at her disposal to cover her body and protect it from any alterations. Shading her from the elements, they enable her skin to remain white, while drawing attention to the fact that her body is covered, that it is not exposed in any of the different acceptations of the term32. Sara Mills and Shirley Foster suggest that the ‘great concern in [women travellers’] texts about the necessity of dressing and behaving ‘correctly’’ stems from ‘the seemingly ‘un-feminine’ nature of the published accounts of their travels, and also because the very activity of travelling seemed unfeminine and compromising to the ideal of female respectability.’33 In other words, as the narratives expose their authors, rhetoric and narrative counterstrategies are implemented to cover up what has been unveiled. The travelling physical bodies were literally covered but it is the textual and discursive repetitions which pile up layer after layer on the previously exhibited body which cover them literarily. Paradoxically, this normative erasure, which draws attention to these bodies as feminine bodies, makes them visible as such, and pokes holes in the dominant discourse’s idea of the female body as helpless. The latter was challenged by mere example, as Jameson successfully travelled in the Canadian wilderness.

23Similarly in Travels in West Africa (1897), Mary Kingsley repeatedly reminds readers that she wore proper feminine clothes on her journey. Her fall into a pit lined with pikes on her ascension of Mount Cameroon provides her with the opportunity to celebrate ‘the blessing of a good thick skirt’ in a now famous passage:

  • 34 Kingsley, Mary, Travels in West Africa: Congo Français, Corisco and Cameroons (London, Macmillan, 1 (...)

Had I paid heed to the advice of many people in England, who ought to have known better, and did not do it themselves, and adopted masculine garments, I should have been spiked to the bone, and done for. Whereas, save for a good many bruises, here I was with the fulness of my skirt tucked under me, sitting on nine ebony spikes some twelve inches long, in comparative comfort, howling lustily to be hauled out.34

  • 35 Mary Kingsley, Travels in West Africa, p.502. This address may in fact have been related to her bei (...)

24A similar emphasis is to be found when she regrets the lack of linguistic gender in some African languages: ‘I am a most lady-like old person and yet get constantly called ‘Sir’. I hasten to assure you I never even wear a masculine collar and tie, and as for encasing the more earthward extremities of my anatomy in—you know what I mean—well, I would rather perish on a public scaffold.’35 The use of the second-person pronoun in the addresses to the reader reinscribes the narrative within British bounds, as the narrative was written for and with a British readership in mind (Kingsley used her diary and letters she sent to friends as a basis she reworked for her narrative). The journey itself was performed, and the narrative written, with this telos in mind. While the hyperbolical evocation of a public scaffold is humorous, it is a revealing reference point set in England. In both examples, cross-dressing is assimilated to physical danger and/or death. The association of cross-dressing with the threat of death evokes the dishonour and social death that awaited those who did not conform to social rules. The evocation of a public scaffold draws attention to the public exhibition Kingsley performs by writing about herself and her journeys. Kingsley uses periphrases (‘the more earthward extremities’, ‘you know what I mean’) to discuss her body. The euphemistic text functions similarly to the clothing she wears, as a many-folded cloth which signals her gender by showcasing her feminine body through its covering.

  • 36 Ciolkowski, Laura E.,‘Travelers’ tales: Empire, Victorian Travel, and the Spectacle of English Woma (...)
  • 37 Ibid., p.338

25In fact, Kingsley’s narrative does more than showing a feminine body, it performs and creates it, at the intersection of femininity and social class. Laura Ciolkowski convincingly argues that Kingsley ‘remakes herself in her Travels in the image of the Victorian woman she routinely failed to be [in England]’36 and that ‘it is, rather, precisely there in the ‘darkness’ of Africa that womanhood is most efficiently created’37 Before embarking on her African journey, Kingsley, who was the daughter of George Kingsley and his domestic servant, had held a precarious position in society. Her travel narrative fashions her into the lady she never was at home. She successfully turned around the careful examination she could not escape, and through her performance of gender and social class, her travel writing enabled her to access a social status she was previously denied.

Dis/claiming: The Politics of Women’s Writing

  • 38 Quoted in Frank, Katherine, A Voyager Out: The Life of Mary Kingsley (Boston, Houghton Mifflin Comp (...)
  • 39 Frank, K., A Voyager Out, p.208

26By conforming to the metropole’s conventions and standards even when they were abroad, women stressed that they could (re)integrate the metropole and its norms. Such statement was all the more needed as they entered a domain previously thought of as masculine, generically characterized as such, with episodes of adventure tinged with danger and scientific authority. On her return to England, before her narrative was even published, Kingsley felt the need to publish a disclaimer, after a journalist from The Telegraph wrote about ‘the qualities of heart and mind which could carry a lonely English lady through such experiences as Miss Kingsley has ‘manfully’ borne’ and associated her journey with ‘the modern emancipation of woman– this passion on the part of the sex to emulate the most daring achievements of masculine explorers.’38 Kingsley emphasized that she was not making any political claim with her journey: ‘I do not relish being called a New Woman. I am not one in any sense of the term.’39 Kingsley’s disclaimer is a useful reminder that Victorian women travellers were not all proto-feminists, however enticing this idea may be. While Anna Jameson went on to mentor the Ladies of the Langham Place and devoted most of her writings in one way or another to the representation of women, Isabella Bird and Mary Kingsley were more politically conservative in their consideration of the Woman’s Question.

  • 40 Bird, I., A Lady’s Life, p.viii

27Decades before Kingsley, Isabella Bird requested the addition of a disclaimer to the second edition to A Lady’s Life in the Rocky Mountains (1879) because a reviewer commented that on her journey ‘[s]he [had] donned masculine habiliments for greater convenience’. 40She felt that the need to correct that statement was urgent, as the added preface dates from only five days after the incriminated article was published:

  • 41 Bird, I., A Lady’s Life, p.vii

For the benefit of other lady travellers, I wish to explain that my ‘Hawaiian riding dress’ is the ‘American Lady’s Mountain Dress,’ a half-fitting jacket, a skirt reaching to the ankles, and full Turkish trousers gathered into frills which fall over the boots,—a thoroughly serviceable and feminine costume for mountaineering and other rough travelling in any part of the world.41

28The addendum underlines that this costume is warranted by a specific spatial localization, as the name of the dress (‘the American Lady’s Mountain Dress’) doubly indicates as well. Even though Bird explicitly puts forward the fact that this dress was worn outside of England, her minute description takes pains to show how it conforms to English social conventions. She emphasizes the multiple layers that cover the body (‘reaching to the ankles’, ‘full’, ‘fall over the boots’), while enhancing feminine strappings such as ‘frills’, which fulfil no function but a decorative one. This superfluity signals conventional femininity and therefore abides by Victorian social norms of what a woman was supposed to be. To drive her point home, Bird requested her publisher add a ‘a rough sketch of the costume’. The sketch is not captioned and shows a woman wearing the incriminated costume holding a horse. Although the sketch looks like a representation of herself, Bird does not introduce it as such, but simply as documentary evidence of the existence of such cultural dress. Jameson claimed her visual self-representation as it conveyed a representation of herself as a British lady. Bird leaves it to the reader’s interpretation.

Uncaptioned sketch of woman wearing costume

Uncaptioned sketch of woman wearing costume

Source: Isabella Bird, A Lady’s Life

29The extreme care women travellers took to display in their narratives the strappings of British nineteenth-century femininity, because of the dangers associated with any deviation from the norm, is reminiscent of the metropole’s fear of and disgust at the possibility of ‘going native’. In both cases, the suspicion may have been that the adoption of exterior signs would change the essence of the person, or simply that it weakened the basis which supported the metropole’s values, the idea that they were uncontestably the best.

  • 42 Flint, Kate, The Woman Reader, 1837-1914 (Oxford, Oxford University Press, 1993)
  • 43 Jameson, A., Winter Studies and Summer Rambles, p.2
  • 44 In her correspondence, Jameson states on several occasions her desire to teach her countrywomen: ‘I (...)

30Isabella Bird gives a utilitarian purpose to her disclaimer to justify its addition, explaining that she makes the correction only to be of service to other women, which she identifies as plural, thus toning down the exceptional character of her journey (she could have mentioned ‘another lady traveller’ as some writers do for instance). But this also draws attention to the role of exemplum these women took on through their travelling, whether they wanted it or not. Panopticism relied on individualization, just as the inmates in the Panopticon, in early versions of the plan, could not see each other and might have thought themselves alone. But writing about these journeys turned the individual experience into a collective event. The pervasiveness of discipline through discourse entails that subversive counter-discourse could prove as suffusive and dangerous, were it not enclosed in normative discourse. This sheds light on the tight control and close observation of what women read in the nineteenth century.42 Women’s travel writing was often conventionally addressed primarily to other women, either in terms of original addressee or of the audience identified in the preface. Anna Jameson for instance signals that her narrative is ‘more particularly addressed to [her] own sex.’43 Although this is part of a larger strategy to minimize her subversive breach into a male world of letters, it is possible to see it in a different light, as a way to inspire her countrywomen and perhaps set a trend (regardless of intentions).44 Women writers, as double exceptions, needed to navigate these murky waters: as an exception in a generally male practice and as an exception compared to other women who did not get to travel abroad. They had to negotiate contradictory expectations, those they had internalized as British women, and those that defined the literary genre they were entering and which had been dominated by men for centuries. Although meant as a narrative safeguard against accusations of impropriety, addressing their narratives to other women could be construed as invitations for them to emulate the stories they were reading. For these reasons, women travellers often stressed the exceptional character of their journey, thus fulfilling both the expectations of the genre and of their gender.

  • 45 The private nature of letters is relative, as they were often supposed to be passed around and read (...)
  • 46 Mills, S., Discourses of Difference, p.42
  • 47 Watson, Alex, ‘The Garden of Forking Paths: Paratexts in Travel Literature’, in New Directions in T (...)
  • 48 Bird, I., A Lady’s Life, p.v
  • 49 Jameson, A., Winter Studies and Summer Rambles, p.1
  • 50 That is the case when Jameson introduces her travelling companions in the excerpt commented above f (...)

31Most Victorian women travellers chose diaristic or epistolary forms for their travel narratives, which transcribed literarily as domestic, through the private definition of the exchange,45 or the private space of diaristic introspection. These autobiographical forms thus articulated the writing of the self and its exhibition to the public. Sara Mills, following Foucault, points out that confessional writings ‘can be seen as genres where women were encouraged to ‘reveal’ themselves, and where the disciplinary forces of society were most at work.’46 Although they were by no means used only by women, they were introduced differently from their male counterparts’. As Alex Watson underlines, ‘paratexts [in travel writing] provide an avenue in which female travel writers negotiate their complicated, fraught situation’47 as double exceptions, and they were often the locus of a feminisation of genres otherwise also used by male travellers. They were defined as feminine literary spaces, through the inclusion of a female addressee for instance, such as a sister or a friend. Bird encloses her narrative within the bounds of a feminine exchange by dedicating it to her sister, while mentioning it is made up of the letters she wrote her on her journey: ‘To My Sister, to whom these letters were originally written, they are now affectionately dedicated.’48 In her preface to Winter Studies and Summer Rambles, while giving in to the conventional, formulaic lamentation regarding the form of her narrative and its imperfections, Jameson specifies that it was initially a ‘journal addressed to a friend.’49 What is more, the choice of a dialogic mode was not accidental, as the inclusion and mention of an addressee sometimes opportunely obscured the fact that they were indeed travelling alone.50

  • 51 Jameson, A., Winter Studies and Summer Rambles, p.2
  • 52 Barr, P., A Curious Life, pp.94-95
  • 53 Jameson, A., Winter Studies and Summer Rambles, p.1
  • 54 Bird, I., A Lady’s Life, p.vii

32Both the diary and the letter are genres which create the illusion of introspection and of a private space. However, Jameson and Bird were seasoned travellers who had published accounts of their travels before and planned on making something out of their journeys. Jameson acknowledges that ‘much has been omitted of a personal nature,’51 and Bird excised and reworked extensively the material, in particular the letters concerning her budding romance with Jim Nugent.52 Kingsley had already been to Africa and planned on sharing the observations of her second trip; she reworked her diary and the letters she sent to friends into her narrative. The three of them thus tailored their narratives for a wider audience. Their authors’ assertions that their narrative ‘was never intended to go before the world in its present crude and desultory form,’53 or that ‘[t]hese letters, as their style sufficiently indicates, were written without the remotest idea of publication’54 need to be taken with a pinch of salt. These narratives reveal the forces of panopticism at work even more, as their authors were aware of their imminent exposure to public scrutiny.

33A Lady’s Life was first published in 1879 and introduced by a prefatory note (dated October 21, 1879), which was complemented with a ‘Note to second edition’ dated November 27, 1879, and a ‘Note to third edition’ in January 16, 1880. Like the multiple layering over the female body, the narrative consists of several layers added through time. These multiple layers superimposed over the initial text usher the reader into the narrative, while delaying and obstructing this entrance. Like a glove or a parasol, it overwrites and protects the body of the text, superficially blocking the inevitable examining gaze while directing it at the same time. It also signals Bird’s anxiety regarding the reception of her narrative, as she prolongs the narrative into a conversation with her reviewers. By writing over the narrative, Bird tried to control the perception of her journey and of herself, and to answer possible criticism. The preface, in a liminal position, seems to try and anticipate criticism, while here two of these notes were added afterwards, and therefore reply to it.

  • 55 Barr, Pat, A Curious Life for a Lady: The Story of Isabella Bird, a Remarkable Victorian Traveller (...)
  • 56 Kato, Daniela, ‘‘I write the truth as I see it’: Unsettling the Boundaries of Gender, Travel Writin (...)
  • 57 Bird, I., A Lady’s Life, p.271

34This complicates the consideration of the effects of the preface which, in its liminality, also served as an in-between space-time between that of the narrator’s journey and that of the reader. Written after the journey, once back home, the preface ushers the reader into the narrative through a domestic and domesticating threshold to apologize for the narrative that follows and to underline the fact that the (relative) freedom experienced is restricted to the then and there of the journey. This framing process and containment of the journey is also visible in the fact that ‘Bird’s riding trousers were always utterly concealed beneath the skirts, and when she came to a town of any size she always rode a ladylike side-saddle through its streets.’55 Daniela Kato draws a parallel between this behaviour and Mary Kingsley’s narrative strategy of distantiation, ‘with potentially masculine traits distanced in space and time’.56 If travelling was an outlet for women, it was by definition limited in time. Returning was always on the horizon, even if some were always thinking of the next journey, like Bird who went on to travel throughout her life to Japan, Malaya, Tibet, Persia, Korea, and China. Women travellers had to have the end in view and ensure their (re)integration into British society. These considerations may explain the following comment, which appears in one of Bird’s last letters in A Lady’s Life, as the end of the journey was looming into view: ‘Surely one advantage of travelling is that […] it intensifies tenfold one’s appreciation of the good at home, and, above all, of the quietness and purity of English domestic life.’57 While Bird’s comment pits ‘home’ against ‘travelling’, this division needs to be reassessed in light of panopticism.

  • 58 The doctrine of separate spheres did not concern all women (it applied to the upper and middle soci (...)

35Panopticism invites us to reconsider such binary division between home and away, and private and public, and see it rather as a continuum. What Foucault describes in Discipline and Punish is a generalization of the disciplinary gaze beyond prison walls, and when internalized, the gaze is not dependent on a central watchtower or on prison walls. Even though they left behind the metropole and the domestic sphere, women travellers were still subjected to the discipline of their times and often reproduced ‘domestic’ spaces in their travels (for instance through references to enclosed spaces or social practices), and in their narratives through generic and narrative choices. Although their narratives publicised the fact that they had left the “private sphere’ and that they were enjoying a practice of space to some extent similar to men’s, travelling did not enable them to fully escape the doctrine of separate spheres.58

  • 59 Blunt, A., Travel, Gender, and Imperialism, p.3
  • 60 In what is traditionally thought of as the ‘author’, Dominique Maingueneau distinguishes three part (...)
  • 61 Watson, A., ‘The Garden of Forking Paths: Paratexts in Travel Literature’, p.56
  • 62 I borrow Lawrence Venuti’s translation concepts of ‘domestication’ and ‘foreignization’, as transla (...)

36Alison Blunt suggests that we should ‘deconstruct binary oppositions such as home/away […], [and] revea[l] their ambivalence and contestation.’59 Indeed, what the study of these narratives through the lens of panopticism–as the internalization of discipline–reveals is the blurring overlap of these notions which coexist and compete throughout the books published. Conflicting elements are intertwined in the travel narrative which ties different places, temporalities and parts of what constitutes an author together. While the ‘author’ makes use of her preface to present herself as such, she distances herself from her distant (in time and space) narrative (and narrating) self, ‘the inscriptor’, because her readers observe and judge the ‘person.’60 This very distantiation nonetheless points to the coexistence of these divergent trends. Following Alex Watson’s invitation to ‘challenge Genette’s binary model of text and paratext, [as he] argu[es instead] for a rhizomic approach, in which the (travel) text is defined as a complex network of competing structures,’61 I suggest that the prefaces of these women’s travel writers need to be considered not only as preludes to the narratives in a binary system, but as intrinsic parts of the narratives, in a rhizomic relation to the rest of the text, with authorial effects and domesticating strategies influencing the reception of the travel narrative, but also sometimes foreignizing effects on author and reader62, as they fail at compartmentalizing the text and the journey along binary lines.

  • 63 Quoted in Blunt, A., Travel, Gender, and Imperialism, p.121
  • 64 Kingsley, M., Travels in West Africa, p.viii
  • 65 ‘Visibility is a trap’ (Foucault, M., Discipline & Punish, p.200).

37Women’s writing was subjected to as much scrutiny as their bodies and commented on through the lens of gender, as illustrated by a review of Kingsley’s Travels in West Africa published in the Glasgow Herald dated 31 January 1899: ‘The consequence is that her pages often read like a bad imitation of Three Men in a Boat. It is a pity that Miss Kingsley has not tried to write in a more ladylike manner, because when she pleases she can write well enough.’63 This instance of condescension levelled at women’s writing may explain why Kingsley dedicated her narrative to her brother and, in her preface, placed her narrative under the aegis of another man, Dr. Henry Guillemard, by thanking him for his editorial help. While she thus lessens the impropriety (relative at the end of the century) of her writing alone, she also claims her independence: ‘It is I who have declined to ascend to a higher level of lucidity and correctness of diction than I am fitted for.’64 All these discursive strategies reveal that visibility was indeed a trap for women travellers,65 one to be treaded around carefully, but one they could also transform into an opportunity.

Conclusion

38Foucault’s contribution to travel writing studies is inestimable. This article has showed that three travel narratives by nineteenth-century British women, who travelled alone in different areas of the world decades apart, evidence panopticism. Because travel in the nineteenth century was considered a gendered activity, and because it was gendered as male, travel writing for women meant pushing against the boundaries of gender, whether female authors wanted it or not. Travel writing was a gendering activity, as women were expected to perform gender in a similar fashion to what was expected in the metropole, while literarily performing travel in an almost identical manner to their male predecessors. The act of travelling itself, as well as the conditions in which travelling was sometimes done, contested this reduction of women travellers to the domestic (in both senses) definition of femininity. Therefore, women travellers were left with no other choice than to perform femininity. As such, their narratives expose its artificiality. Nineteenth-century women’s travel narratives thus make visible processes of social control that were usually invisibly pervasive; by articulating travelling and writing they show the intersection of outside observation and the internalization of the need to perform. This articulation makes it possible for them to write about that surveillance, though of course in roundabout ways, whether to resist it or to actually emphasize their paradoxical adherence to it: stressing their exceptionality, and thus pointing to their own deviation from the norm, was for some a way of enforcing the norm.

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BARR, Pat, A Curious Life for a Lady: The Story of Isabella Bird, a Remarkable Victorian Traveller (New York, Doubleday & Company, 1970)

BASSNETT, Susan, ‘Travel writing and gender’, in The Cambridge Companion to Travel Writing, eds. Peter Hulme and Tim Youngs (Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 2002), pp. 225-241

BIRD, Dunlaith, ‘Gender’, in Keywords for Travel Writing Studies: A Critical Glossary, eds. Charles Forsdick, Zoë Kinsley, and Kathryn Walchester (London, Anthem Press, 2019), pp.99-100

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Notes

1 Foucault, Michel, ‘Truth and Juridical Forms’, in Power: Essential Works of Foucault, eds. J.D. Faubion and trans. R. Hurley, vol. 3 (London: Penguin, 2002), p.70

2 Pratt, Mary Louise, Imperial Eyes: Travel Writing and Transculturation, (London, Routledge, 1992), p.4,7, 205; Spurr, David, The Rhetoric of Empire: Colonial Discourse in Journalism, Travel Writing, and Imperial Administration (Durham/London, Duke University Press, 1993), pp.15-17; Arnold, David, The Tropics and the Traveling Gaze: India, Landscape, and Science, 1800-1856 (Seattle/London: University of Washington Press, 2006), pp.29-30

3 Foucault, Michel, ‘Truth and Juridical Forms’, p.70

4 See for instance Thompson, Carl, ‘Travellers’ Tales: Fact and Fiction in Travel Writing’ in Travel Writing (London/New York, Routledge, 2011), pp.27-30

5 Dunlaith Bird, ‘Gender’, in Keywords for Travel Writing Studies: A Critical Glossary, eds. Charles Forsdick, Zoë Kinsley, and Kathryn Walchester (London, Anthem Press, 2019), pp.99-100, p.99

6 Thompson, Carl, ‘Journeys to Authority: Reassessing Women's Early Travel Writing, 1763–1862’, Women's Writing, 24:2 (2017), pp.131-150, p.134

7 Viviès, Jean, English Travel Narratives in the Eighteenth Century: Exploring Genres, trans. Claire Davison (Aldershot, Ashgate, 2002)

8 Foucault notes that the Panopticon ‘also enables everyone to come and observe any of the observers.’ (Foucault, Michel, Discipline and Punish: The Birth of the Prison, trans. Alan Sheridan (New York, Vintage Books, 1995), p.207)

9 Anna Jameson travelled in Upper Canada in 1837, while her husband was Attorney General of Upper Canada in Toronto, and Isabella Bird journeyed across Colorado in 1873 on her way back from the Sandwich islands. Mary Kingsley made her first journey to the West Coast of Africa in 1893, but this first trip is only alluded to in Travels in West Africa, which bears on her second visit in 1894-1895.

10 They justified their autonomous travels in different ways, Bird indicating health reasons while Kingsley’s journey and narrative purported to complete her recently deceased father’s work. Isabella Bird married later in life.

11 Robinson, Jane, Wayward Women: A Guide to Women Travellers (Oxford, Oxford University Press, 1990), p.vii

12 Said, Edward, Orientalism (New York, Vintage Books, 1979), p.41

13 Regard, Frédéric, ‘Fantasmes et chimères du descriptif ethnographique : deux études de cas, Personal Narrative of a Pilgrimage de Richard Francis Burton (1855-1856) et Anahuac d’Edward Burnett Tylor (1861)’, in De Drake à Chatwin : rhétoriques de la découverte, ed. Frédéric Regard (Lyon, ENS Éditions, 2007), pp.155-184, p.174, my translation.

14 Korte, Barbara, English Travel Writing: From Pilgrimages to Postcolonial Explorations (1996), trans. Catherine Matthias (New York, St Martin’s Press/Palgrave, 2000), pp.12-13

15 Mills, Sara, Discourses of Difference: An Analysis of Women’s Travel Writing and Colonialism (New York, Routledge, 1991), p.198

16 Mills, S., Discourses of Difference, p.108

17 Korte, Barbara, English Travel Writing: From Pilgrimages to Postcolonial Explorations (1996), trans. Catherine Matthias (New York, St Martin’s Press/Palgrave, 2000), p.110

18 Wollstonecraft, Mary, A Vindication of the Rights of Woman, London, J. Johnson, 1792, pp.128-129. See also Guest, Harriet, ‘Travel Writing’, in Cambridge Companion to Women’s Writing in Britain, 1660-1789, ed. Catherine Ingrassia (Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 2015), pp.196-209, p.197; Gélleri, Gabor, ‘Ars apodemica gendered: Female advice on travel’, in Travel and Conflict in the Early Modern World, eds. Gabor Gelléri and Rachel Willie, (Routledge, 2022), pp.205-226, p.219

19 Trollope, Anthony, Travelling Sketches, London, Chapman and Hall, 1866, p.39

20 Foster, Shirley and Sara Mills, An Anthology of Women’s Travel Writing (2002) (Manchester/New York, Manchester University Press, 2013), p.172

21 Foster, S. and S. Mills, An Anthology of Women’s Travel Writing, p.9

22 Henry Scadding reports overhearing Jameson mentioning it: ‘I also gathered that a Bible and Shakespeare were almost the sole literary companions of her voyage, and that a small stiletto or poignard was secretly carried for self-defence if there should be any need.’ (Scadding, Henry, Mrs. Jameson on Shakespeare and the Collier Emendations, Toronto, The Week, 1892, p.12)

23 Bird, I., A Lady’s Life, p.207

24 ‘On my telling [Jim] that I travelled unarmed, he could hardly believe it, and adjured me to get a revolver at once.’ (Bird, I., A Lady’s Life, p.107)

25 See for instance Dowie, Ménie Muriel, A Girl in the Karpathians (1891).

26 Bassnett, Susan, ‘Travel writing and gender’ in The Cambridge Companion to Travel Writing, eds. Peter Hulme and Tim Youngs (Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 2002), pp.225-241, p.239

27 Foster, S. and S. Mills, An Anthology of Women’s Travel Writing, p.3

28 Jameson, Anna, ‘The Canoe on Lake Huron’ (Toronto Reference Library, n° 966-6L)

29 Jameson, Anna, Winter Studies and Summer Rambles in Canada (1838) (Toronto, McClelland & Stewart, The New Canadian Library, 2008), p.566

30 Jameson, A., Winter Studies and Summer Rambles, p.565

31 Roy, Wendy, Maps of Difference: Canada, Women, and Travel (Montréal, McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2005), p.25

32 See also Quaireau, Anne-Florence, ‘De femme à femme : la ‘refiguration’ de la lectrice dans Winter Studies and Summer Rambles (1838) d’Anna Jameson’, L’Atelier, 6 :2 special issue La Transmission, ed. Marie Laniel et Pascale Tollance (2014), pp.24-44

33 Foster, S. and S. Mills, An Anthology of Women’s Travel Writing, p.8

34 Kingsley, Mary, Travels in West Africa: Congo Français, Corisco and Cameroons (London, Macmillan, 1897), p.270

35 Mary Kingsley, Travels in West Africa, p.502. This address may in fact have been related to her being in a position of power, as a white woman in colonized countries.

36 Ciolkowski, Laura E.,‘Travelers’ tales: Empire, Victorian Travel, and the Spectacle of English Womanhood in Mary Kingsley’s Travels in West Africa’, Victorian Literature and Culture, 26:2 (1998), pp.337-366, p.340

37 Ibid., p.338

38 Quoted in Frank, Katherine, A Voyager Out: The Life of Mary Kingsley (Boston, Houghton Mifflin Company, 1986), p.208

39 Frank, K., A Voyager Out, p.208

40 Bird, I., A Lady’s Life, p.viii

41 Bird, I., A Lady’s Life, p.vii

42 Flint, Kate, The Woman Reader, 1837-1914 (Oxford, Oxford University Press, 1993)

43 Jameson, A., Winter Studies and Summer Rambles, p.2

44 In her correspondence, Jameson states on several occasions her desire to teach her countrywomen: ‘I write for Englishwomen and to tell them some things they do not know.’ (Needler, G. H. (ed.), Letters of Anna Jameson to Ottilie von Goethe (London, Oxford University Press, 1939), p.101; original emphasis). Jameson’s design of cultivation appears influenced by the German concept of Bildung (See Quaireau, Anne-Florence, Le Féminin en partage: Le voyage d’Anna Jameson au Canada (1836-1837) (Sorbonne Université Presses, forthcoming)).

45 The private nature of letters is relative, as they were often supposed to be passed around and read aloud to a group of people.

46 Mills, S., Discourses of Difference, p.42

47 Watson, Alex, ‘The Garden of Forking Paths: Paratexts in Travel Literature’, in New Directions in Travel Writing, eds. Julia Kuehn and Paul Smethurst (London, Palgrave Macmillan, 2015), pp.54-68, p.58

48 Bird, I., A Lady’s Life, p.v

49 Jameson, A., Winter Studies and Summer Rambles, p.1

50 That is the case when Jameson introduces her travelling companions in the excerpt commented above for instance.

51 Jameson, A., Winter Studies and Summer Rambles, p.2

52 Barr, P., A Curious Life, pp.94-95

53 Jameson, A., Winter Studies and Summer Rambles, p.1

54 Bird, I., A Lady’s Life, p.vii

55 Barr, Pat, A Curious Life for a Lady: The Story of Isabella Bird, a Remarkable Victorian Traveller (New York, Doubleday & Company, 1970), p.29

56 Kato, Daniela, ‘‘I write the truth as I see it’: Unsettling the Boundaries of Gender, Travel Writing and Ethnography in Isabella Bird’s Unbeaten Tracks in Japan’, in Women in Transit through Literary Spaces, eds. Teresa Gomez Reus and Terry Gifford (Palgrave Macmillan, 2014), pp.77-90, p.79

57 Bird, I., A Lady’s Life, p.271

58 The doctrine of separate spheres did not concern all women (it applied to the upper and middle social classes), and historians have showed that it was a model which was prescribed, rather than a historical reality (Vickery, Amanda, ‘Golden Age to Separate Spheres? A Review of the Categories and Chronology of English Women’s History’, The Historical Journal, 36:2 (1993), pp.383-414)

59 Blunt, A., Travel, Gender, and Imperialism, p.3

60 In what is traditionally thought of as the ‘author’, Dominique Maingueneau distinguishes three parts: the ‘person’, the ‘writer’ and the ‘inscriptor’. (Maingueneau, Dominique, Le discours littéraire: paratopie et scène d’énonciation (Paris, Armand Colin, 2004), pp.107-8)

61 Watson, A., ‘The Garden of Forking Paths: Paratexts in Travel Literature’, p.56

62 I borrow Lawrence Venuti’s translation concepts of ‘domestication’ and ‘foreignization’, as translation shares many similarities with travel writing, notably in its aim ‘to bring back a cultural other as the recognizable, the familiar, even the same’ (Venuti, L. The Translator’s Invisibility: A History of Translation (1995, 2008), 2nd edition (Abingdon, Routledge, 2009) p.14). Following Friedrich Schleiermacher, Venuti distinguishes between ‘a domesticating practice, an ethnocentric reduction of the foreign text to receiving cultural values, bringing the author back home, and a foreignizing practice, an ethnodeviant pressure on those values to register the linguistic and cultural differences of the foreign text, sending the reader abroad.’ (p.15)

63 Quoted in Blunt, A., Travel, Gender, and Imperialism, p.121

64 Kingsley, M., Travels in West Africa, p.viii

65 ‘Visibility is a trap’ (Foucault, M., Discipline & Punish, p.200).

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Titre Anna Jameson, The Canoe on Lake Huron
Crédits Source: Toronto Reference Library, n° 966-6L
URL http://journals.openedition.org/etudes-benthamiennes/docannexe/image/10015/img-1.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 167k
Titre Uncaptioned sketch of woman wearing costume
Crédits Source: Isabella Bird, A Lady’s Life
URL http://journals.openedition.org/etudes-benthamiennes/docannexe/image/10015/img-2.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 227k
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Anne-Florence Quaireau, « The Trap of Visibility?  »Revue d’études benthamiennes [En ligne], 22 | 2022, mis en ligne le 30 juillet 2022, consulté le 06 février 2023. URL : http://journals.openedition.org/etudes-benthamiennes/10015 ; DOI : https://doi.org/10.4000/etudes-benthamiennes.10015

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Anne-Florence Quaireau

VALE (EA 4085), Sorbonne Université

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