Meghan Elizabeth Hall
My dissertation, tentatively entitled “Women Writing Travel: Gender, Race, and the Larger World,” examines depictions of traveling women in seventeenth-century English women’s writing in order to illuminate how women grappled with what it meant – and what it could mean – to be mobile and female. Although a wealth of scholarship has examined the discourses of travel in relation to issues of gender, as well as representations of traveling women in canonical (usually male-authored) literature from the period, as yet little work has examined how women’s writing engaged with these discourses and representations. My dissertation proposes that women thought and wrote critically about what it meant for members of their gender to travel outside England, well aware that they wrote for a culture that celebrated powerful men’s overseas voyages while generally discouraging women from undertaking the same journeys. I also suggest that by examining these writings as critical engagements – as attempts to theorize issues of gender and travel vis-à-vis depictions of traveling women – we gain insight into how women negotiated their exclusion from the various opportunities afforded by overseas travel, and how they struggled with the gendered risks that such travel posed. Importantly, as my dissertation will show, many English women worked through these problems with recourse to the discourses of race. Recent scholarship has begun to ask after women’s experiences of the culture of travel in early modern England in efforts to nuance what has largely been a masculine history, dominated by stories of traveling men and by early modern men’s writing on the subject. My dissertation aims to contribute to these efforts by focusing on English women’s articulations of the relationship between gender, travel, and race under the conditions of patriarchy and colonialism.
M.A. in Literary and Cultural Studies, Carnegie Mellon University, 2013
B.S. in English Literature, SUNY College at Oneonta, 2012