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Travelling in Different SkinsGender Identity in European Women's Oriental Travelogues, 1850-1950$
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Dúnlaith Bird

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780199644162

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2012

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199644162.001.0001

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Walk Like a Man

Walk Like a Man

Vagabondage and Gender Construction

(p.30) 2 Walk Like a Man
Travelling in Different Skins

Dúnlaith Bird

Oxford University Press

This chapter explores the original paradigm of vagabondage. An increasingly totemic concept in European women’s travel writing from the 1850s onwards, vagabondage offers an alternative model of mobility and gender construction. The chapter begins by mapping the development of vagabondage from its historical origins to its reformulation as women’s movement from 1850. From forced economic migration in fourteenth-century Europe, vagabondage gradually metamorphoses into a criminal activity, a seditious plague on the nation state, as close textual analysis of Royal Statutes from Britain and France shows. It also constitutes a marginal literary movement, from Elizabethan rogue’s literature to Victor Hugo’s vagabond heroes. The chapter uses Isabelle Eberhardt’s early travel writing and Colette’s La Vagabonde (1911) to elucidate the central characteristics and themes of women’s vagabondage. The final section examines official repression of female vagabondage and the appearance of modern ‘rogue literature’ as a response to this repression in the travelogues of Freya Stark.

Keywords:   vagabondage, vagabonds, criminality, Colette, nomadism, Isabelle Eberhardt, identity construction, gender norms, social deviance, rogue’s literature

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