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 Add to Cart
eBook (EPUB)
Ebook purchases delivered via Leaf e-Reader

January 2019


$35.00 Add to Cart
eBook (PDF)
Ebook purchases delivered via Leaf e-Reader

January 2019


$35.00 Add to Cart

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, 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.


"This edited collection is a meaningful contribution to the literature concerning the movement and travel of women during the Age of Exploration. Up until this point, the literature has either fully ignored the movement of these women or marginally presented the travels of elite women post-eighteenth century. Therefore, Travel and Travail serves as a corrective, describing the very literal and very common travels of women during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries."—Dyese Elliott-Newton, Comitatus

"Travel and Travail produces important feminist knowledge and fills a lacuna in our understanding of the expanding global enterprise and women's place in it. It is marvelously written, a pleasure to read."—Mira'Assaf Kafantaris, Early Modern Women: An Interdisciplinay Journal

"Travel and Travail, a collection of essays on early modern women's travel, is a timely and much-needed contribution to the scholarship of women's travel writing and women's mobility. The sixteen essays in this book collectively offer fresh insights into historical women travellers in the early modern world as well as literary representations of female travel on the English stage."—Yoojung Choi, Review of English Studies

"These stories place women in the context of larger issues surrounding the early modern world—beyond their local cities and, what was considered at the time, domestic spaces."—Arazoo Ferozan, Renaissance and Reformation

"Travel and Travail is a celebration of interdisciplinary research. . . . This work challenges historians, digital humanity scholars, and collegiate learners to look anew at their own understandings of women travelers in the early modern world."—Gina G. Bennett, Terrae Incognitae

"Travel and Travail is a thrilling statement of a field in its emergence and will become a touchstone in scholarship on early modern women, early modern travel and colonialism, and early modern drama."—Gavin Hollis, Early Theater

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

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