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Women and the Railway, 1850-1915$
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Anna Despotopoulou

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780748676941

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: January 2016

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9780748676941.001.0001

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Breaching National Borders

Breaching National Borders

Rail Travel in Europe and Empire

(p.101) Chapter 3 Breaching National Borders
Women and the Railway, 1850-1915

Anna Despotopoulou

Edinburgh University Press

With examples from Anthony Trollope and Henry James, Chapter 3 firstly addresses the ways in which railway travel across nations cultivated the tourist gaze, which partly consisted in the mobile and transitory glance of sites and landscapes. Tourism by train also provided men and women with structured ways in which to interact, reconfiguring the terms and the intensity of emotional attachments, fostering a modern view of love based on transient feelings and fleeting impressions acquired by the mobile gaze. In James’s The Portrait of a Lady the train may also represent the expansion of woman’s consciousness as she experiences the permeability of boundaries between self and world, thus acquiring an ethically cosmopolitan stance. The second and third parts of Chapter 3 focus on women’s ventures in spaces of empire, Canada and India, in fiction by Mary Humphry Ward and Flora Annie Steel, for whom the railway figures as a contact zone of colonial and gender encounters. The train narratives examined exhibit the incoherence of national identity within settings of empire, and women, who occupy a peculiar position as both colonists and disenfranchised subjects of Empire, expose the impossibility of monolithic, solidly impermeable identities within this context.

Keywords:   tourism, mobile gaze, national identity, empire, imperialism, Henry James, Mary Humphry Ward, Flora Annie Steel, Canada, India

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