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Travel as Subversion in 19th Century Black Women’s Narratives

DOI: 10.4236/als.2017.54009, PP. 105-121

Keywords: Black Women, Agency, Liminality, Transnational, Travel, Subversion, Narrative, Transgression, Travel/Travelers, Imperialism and Female Agency

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Race and gender proved to be two daunting obstacles for African American and Afro-Caribbean women in the 19th century; thus success outside those domains often depended on women’s ability to keep a strong feminist stance. Prescribed female roles and racial prejudice hindered many in their ambitions and endeavors. This paper argues that some 19th century black women’s narratives, however, point to a body of resistance texts in contention with prescribed roles for such women. The textual personas of such narratives transcend the confines of home and racially-configured communities. In fact, the narratives foreground a female agency where personal worth and identities are reconstructed through traveling and working in the global arenas and economies of the 19th century world.


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