Literary Landscapes: Mapping Emergent American Identity in Transatlantic Narratives of Women's Travel of the Long Eighteenth Century

Thomas, Leah Michelle.   Virginia Commonwealth University ProQuest Dissertations Publishing,  2014. 3620181.

Abstract (summary)

This dissertation examines intersections of the development of maps from the Native American-European encounter to the establishment of the New Republic and transatlantic British and American narratives of women's travel of the long eighteenth century. Early European and American maps that depict the Americas analyzed as parallel "texts" to canonical and lesser-known women's narratives ranging from 1688 to 1801 reveal further insights into both maps and these narratives otherwise not apparent. I argue that as mapping of the New World developed, this mapping influenced representations of women's geographic and social mobility and emergent "American" identity in transatlantic narratives. These narratives, like maps of the New World, reveal disjunctures in representation that disseminate deceptive portrayals of the New World. Such discrepancies open a rhetorical gap, or a thirdspace, of inquiry to analyze the gaze at work within these cartographic and women's narratives.

The representations of women's geographic and social mobility remain constricted within the selected narratives of women's travel. While the heroines do travel, in most cases they travel as captives or in some form of escape. These narratives include Aphra Behn's Oroonoko (1688), Unca Eliza Winkfield's The Female American (1767), Susanna Rowson's Charlotte Temple (1794), and Tabitha Tenney's Female Quixotism (1801), among others. However, these narratives do highlight similarities of an emergent "American" identity as Native American, hybrid, and fluid as represented in contemporaneous maps. Literary Landscapes also addresses the narrativity of maps as auto/biographical and even satirical expressions as related to the women's narratives analyzed in this study. For, J. B. Harley discusses how a map conveys his own life and contains his memories in his essay "The Map as Biography," while Roland Barthes argues that mapping is a sensorial experience in his brief essay "No Address." Furthermore, allegorical maps like Jean de Gourmont's The Fool's Cap Map of the World (ca. 1590) and Madeleine de Scudéry's Carte de tendre (1678) reflect aspects of the human condition such as folly and friendship.

Indexing (details)

American history;
American literature;
British and Irish literature;
Native American studies
0337: American history
0366: Geography
0591: American literature
0593: British and Irish literature
0740: Native American studies
Identifier / keyword
Language, literature and linguistics; Social sciences; American identity; Cartography; Maps; Native American; Transatlantic narratives; Women's travel
Literary Landscapes: Mapping Emergent American Identity in Transatlantic Narratives of Women's Travel of the Long Eighteenth Century
Thomas, Leah Michelle
Number of pages
Degree date
School code
DAI-A 75/08(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Place of publication
Ann Arbor
Country of publication
United States
Ingrassia, Catherine
Committee member
Bauer, Ralph; Eckhardt, Joshua; Meacham, Sarah; Schreffler, Michael
Virginia Commonwealth University
Media, Art, and Text
University location
United States -- Virginia
Source type
Dissertation or Thesis
Document type
Dissertation/thesis number
ProQuest document ID
Database copyright ProQuest LLC; ProQuest does not claim copyright in the individual underlying works.
Document URL