‘Navigating Networks: Women, Travel and Female Communities’

‘Navigating Networks: Women, Travel, and Female Communities’
An Interdisciplinary Conference Hosted by the Travel Cultures Seminar Series
 University of Oxford
~4 October 2013~
In the field of travel studies, the past two decades have witnessed an ever-growing interest in women’s travel writing. One aim of scholars has been to counter stereotypical assumptions about travel and travel writing being a principally masculine enterprise, emphasising instead that the perception of the gendering of travel is to a large extent a misconception, an ideological construct that assumes the notion of gendered separate spheres. This day-­long conference seeks to move beyond the already established fact that women travelled far more than the patriarchal ideology of separate spheres would suggest. It aims to delve further into the rich topic of women’s travel and travel writing practices by examining the ways in which women navigated female networks and created communities with one another, both through their travels and travel writing. In doing so, it will draw upon the notion of travel as a means of building networks and fostering connections with others. Through an examination of various female travel networks, this conference seeks to explore further the significance of women’s travel throughout the ages, including the opportunities for communication it fostered and the unique privileges that it cultivated.
We invite papers that address the topic of women’s travel networks in any historical period. We welcome discussion on any of the following: nonfictional or literary accounts; diaries; letters; articles; films; documentaries; photographs; and paintings.
Topics may include, but are not limited to:
The Act of Travel
• women travelling in groups, independently of men (‘unprotected’ female travellers, spinsters abroad)
• access to exclusively female spaces abroad (harems, baths, spas, circles of gossip)

• development of alliances between the female traveller and the female local

• issues of ‘othering’ – do women have an imperial agenda or do they sympathise with foreign women?

• bonds of sisterhood, friendship, and partnerships

• communities of female expats; salons and social scenes abroad

• feminine self-­fashioning: creation of female travel identities abroad

• negative associations with female travel networks: women’s aversion to being lumped together with other female travellers; their desire to break free from collective identities and stereotypes
Recording Travels
• female literary communities developed through the practice of travel and writing
• female travel writers’ engagement with one another’s texts
• female reception to travel texts

• modern travel blogs

• travelogues, advice books, or periodical pieces aimed at female readers/ travellers
• similar stylistic characteristics of women’s travel writing
• shared attitudes, interests, and goals in women’s travel writing
Please send abstracts of no more than 250 words (for papers of 20 minutes) to Hannah Sikstrom and Kimberly Marsh at <travelculturesseminar@gmail.com> by 1 April 2013.
Travel Cultures is an interdisciplinary seminar series at the University of Oxford for anyone with an interest in inter-­cultural communication, exploration, and travel writing.

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