New directions or the end of the road? Women's travel writing at the millennium

Maureen Mulligan


Women´s travel writing in the twentieth century can be seen as an area of new literature which both absorbs earlier styles of both male and female travel writing, while developing in the direction of certain discourses which have found strong ideological support in social and literary concerns at the end of the century. The key discursive trends in post-colonial women’s travel writing can be defined as those of feminism, (anti)-tourism, ‘tough’ travel, post-colonial awareness, and concern for certain environmental issues. In this paper we will consider how these trends are reflected or challenged in some recent examples of women’s travel writing. The texts referred to here offer a range of positions and concerns which in some ways suggest the limits and possibilities of contemporary travel writing. Without wishing to reduce the books discussed to a single interpretative position, it may be helpful to highlight two differing approaches to the continuing problem of how to write about the Other and how to represent oneself and one’s own culture in the process. Desert Places by Robyn Davidson (1996) is considered in terms of its author’s loss of conviction in the travel writing project; and Terra Incognita by Sara Wheeler (1996) in terms of travel as an interior, imaginative venture into a landscape of myth and emptiness.

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Copyright (c) 2000 Maureen Mulligan

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© Universidad de La Rioja, 2013

ISSN 1576-6357

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