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Exploring Victorian Travel LiteratureDisease, Race and Climate$
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Jessica Howell

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780748692958

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: January 2015

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9780748692958.001.0001

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Introduction

Introduction

Chapter:
(p.1) Introduction
Source:
Exploring Victorian Travel Literature
Author(s):

Jessica Howell

Publisher:
Edinburgh University Press
DOI:10.3366/edinburgh/9780748692958.003.0001

The Introduction outlines cross-pollinations between Victorian travel writing to Africa and the Caribbean and nineteenth century medical discourse. Specifically, it argues that works by Mary Seacole, Richard Burton, Africanus Horton, Mary Kingsley and Joseph Conrad may productively be read as early forms of illness narrative within a colonial context. The authors under study all depict travel within the ‘contact zones’ of climate as dangerous to white subjects. The Introduction outlines both the aesthetics and political impact of these foreboding representations of the colonial tropics. It concludes that writers privileged images of the ‘fatal climate’ over images of contagion because narratives of illness from the environment enhance the observer’s authority regarding local conditions.

Keywords:   contact zones, medical rhetoric, biopower, the tropics

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