Mapping Femininity as Self-reflection Strategy in Lady Mary Wortley Montagu’s Travel Letters
- Publisher: Babes-Bolyai University, Cluj-Napoca
Metacritic Journal for Comparative Studies and Theory
(issn: 2457-8827, eissn: 2457-8827)
feminine mode of travel | cultural (self)-positioning | otherness | strategies of othering | Lady Mary Wortley Montagu | travel letters | feminine map | Literature (General) | PN1-6790
The present paper participates in the discussion about the differences between masculine and feminine modes of travel in terms of interests, perception, and representation, by exploring the Letters of the Right Honourable Lady M--y W--y M--e Written during Her Travels in Europe, Asia and Africa, by Lady Mary Wortley Montagu. As a traveller, Lady Mary engaged in the contemplation of cultural landscapes: she attempted to understand the social logic of the communities she met and to assess the cultural distance between the English society and the local customs of the countries she visited. Within this large social and cultural framework, the focus of her keen spirit of observation is represented, in many of her letters, by gender dynamics and the status of women, thus allowing a feminine configuration of the map of continental Europe and the Ottoman Empire and a comparative understanding of femininity and expected feminine behaviour. Therefore, the contention of this paper is that, in Lady Mary’s letters, the female-traveller’s gaze ends in meditation and self-contemplation, and functions as a means of comparing and reassessing female identity.