A Comparative Study of the Effects of Gender on Travel Writing in Pierre Loti's Madame Chrysanthème and Lady Mary Wortley Montagu's Turkish Embassy Letters
Bi-College (Haverford and Bryn Mawr Colleges). Comparative Literature Program
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My thesis is a comparison of two texts: Madame Chrysanthème, by Pierre Loti, and Turkish Embassy Letters, by Lady Mary Wortley Montagu. Loti was a French author and sailor writing in the late 19th century and Montagu was an English noblewoman writing in the early 18th century. In my thesis, I argue that Montagu, as the first female travel writer, must undergo several transitions; these transitions are from passive observed to active participant, from occupying a role in society which limits her to fixed interactions with a select group of people to occupying a role in society which allows her to engage with various groups, and from proper, formal actions to adventurous and informal actions. By undergoing these transitions, Montagu is able to embrace her role as female travel writer and define this role for women to follow. Montagu must undergo changes to her social role and her gender role in order to embrace this role, however. A female travel writer must be an active participant, capable of accessing society at various levels and not afraid to be adventurous and informal, and Montagu's confining English social and gender role do not allow for these qualities. Loti's role as an established male travel writer, on the other hand, precludes changes to his social or gender role. Loti exists in a strong tradition of male travel writers, and it is because he is so rooted in this imperialist tradition of dominance over the Other that he cannot undergo changes to his social or gender role.