Travel and Travail

Travel and Travail

Early Modern Women, English Drama, and the Wider World

Edited and with an introduction by Patricia Akhimie and Bernadette Andrea

Early Modern Cultural Studies Series

384 pages
3 illustrations, 2 maps, index


January 2019


$35.00 Pre-order

About the Book

Popular English travel guides from the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries asserted that women who wandered too far afield were invariably suspicious, dishonest, and unchaste. As the essays in Travel and Travail reveal, however, early modern women did travel, and often quite extensively, with no diminution of their moral fiber. Female travelers were also frequently represented on the English stage and in other creative works, both as a reproach to the ban on female travel and as a reflection of historical women’s travel, whether intentional or not.

Travel and Travail conclusively refutes the notion of female travel in the early modern era as “an absent presence.” The first part of the volume offers analyses of female travelers (often recently widowed or accompanied by their husbands), the practicalities of female travel, and how women were thought to experience foreign places. The second part turns to literature, including discussions of roving women in Shakespeare, Margaret Cavendish, and Thomas Heywood. Whether historical actors or fictional characters, women figured in the wider world of the global Renaissance, not simply in the hearth and home.

Author Bio

Patricia Akhimie is an assistant professor in the English Department at Rutgers University, Newark. She is the author of Shakespeare and the Cultivation of Difference: Race and Conduct in the Early Modern World. Bernadette Andrea is a professor in the English Department at the University of California, Santa Barbara. She is the author of Women and Islam in Early Modern English Literature and The Lives of Girls and Women from the Islamic World in Early Modern British Literature and Culture.


“Packed with fascinating case studies, this collection reveals overlooked evidence of Early-Modern women traveling between England, Persia, India, and the Americas, alongside illuminating accounts of how dramatists characterized traveling women. Essential reading for students and scholars of travel writing.”—Gerald MacLean, professor emeritus of English literature, University of Exeter

“By focusing on women, this book compellingly changes the way scholars will understand the nature and scope of travel in the Early Modern period.  While offering impressive re-readings of fictional representations of women travelers, Travel and Travail is also rich in archival discoveries, unearthing surprising accounts of seventeenth-century women who traveled within and far beyond the British Isles. Akhimie and Andrea have orchestrated an original and important contribution to Early Modern studies.”—Jean E. Howard, George Delacorte Professor in the Humanities, Columbia University

“An important collection for the field of travel writing and Early Modern women’s and gender studies more broadly. The collection seeks to establish a canon of women travelers in the period, and through the reoccurrence of certain key figures across the volume, both historical and fictional, it goes a long way towards doing so.”—Julia Schleck, associate professor of English at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations
Introduction: Traveling/Travailing Women: Early Modern England and the Wider World - Patricia Akhimie and Bernadette Andrea
Section One: Early Modern Women Travelers: Global and Local Trajectories
CHAPTER 1: Desdemona and Mrs. Keeling - Richmond Barbour
CHAPTER 2: A “Stranger” Bride: Mariam Khan and the East India Company - Karen Robertson
CHAPTER 3: Sailing to India: Women, Travel, and Crisis in the Seventeenth Century - Amrita Sen
CHAPTER 4: Teresa Sampsonia Sherley: Amazon, Traveler, and Consort - Carmen Nocentelli
CHAPTER 5: The Global Travels of Teresa Sampsonia Sherley’s Carmelite Relic - Bernadette Andrea
CHAPTER 6: Gender and Travel Discourse: Richard Lassels’s “The Voyage of the Lady Catherine Whetnall from Brussells into Italy” (1650) - Patricia Akhimie
CHAPTER 7: Advance and Retreat: Reading English Colonial Choreographies of Pocahontas - Elisa Oh
CHAPTER 8: Lady Anne Clifford’s “Way” and Aristocratic Women’s Travel - Laura Williamson Ambrose
Section Two: Early Modern Women and “the Globe”: Gendered Travel on the English Stage
CHAPTER 9: Mapping Women: Place Names and a Woman’s Place - Laura Aydelotte
CHAPTER 10: Eroticizing Women's Travel: Desdemona and the Desire for Adventure in Othello - Stephanie Chamberlain
CHAPTER 11: Desdemona’s “Divided Duty”: Gender and Courtesy in Othello - Michael Slater
CHAPTER 12: “She loved me for the dangers I had passed”: From Adventure to Danger in the Travels of Desdemona and Miranda - Eder Jaramillo
CHAPTER 13: “In th’habiliments of the goddess Isis”: Marian Mobility, Black Madonnas, and the Cleopatra Complex - Ruben Espinosa
CHAPTER 14: Precarious Travail, Gender, and Narration in Shakespeare’s Pericles, Prince of Tyre and Margaret Cavendish’s The Blazing World - Dyani Johns Taff
CHAPTER 15: Traveling Companions: Shakespeare’s As You Like It and the Book of Ruth - Suzanne Tartamella
CHAPTER 16: English Women, Romance, and Global Travel in Thomas Heywood’s The Fair Maid of the West, Part One - Gaywyn Moore
AFTERWORD: Looking for the Women in Early Modern Travel Writing - Mary Fuller
Notes on Contributor

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