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Negotiating Cultural Spaces and Identities:
Isabella Bird’s
The Englishwoman in America

Lucian Blaga University of Sibiu

The Englishwoman in
America (1856) recounts Isabella Bird’s travels to the North American continent (Canada and the United States), offering an interesting mosaic of impressions and facts about Canadian and American places and people. This essay examines how the cultural and colonial encounters during her travels question and enrich different parts of her identity, particularly as a woman and as a British citizen. At the same time, a brief examination of Bird’s narrative in the broader context of nineteenth-century female travel writing and a comprehensive analysis of her account through the lenses of postcolonial and feminist theories allow for a deeper, more socially engaged interpretation of her American experience and her subtle critique of colonial relationships. As traveling has become a popular and common “occupation” in our modern society, such theoretical frameworks make it easier for contemporary readers to identify with Bird’s reflections on cultural encounters, relationships, and conflicts. Therefore, her desire to transgress literal and figurative borders, as well as the process of negotiation of physical and cultural spaces with a view to discovering new facets of her identity, bring her closer to the modern, more globalized audience.

Keywords: women’s travel literature, cultural encounters, negotiation of identity, traveling and colonialism, gender and cultural identity



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