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Women, Periodicals and Print Culture in Britain, 1830s-1900sThe Victorian Period$
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Alexis Easley, Clare Gill, and Beth Rodgers

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9781474433907

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: January 2020

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9781474433907.001.0001

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Rewriting Fairyland: Isabella Bird and the Spectacle of Nineteenth-Century Japan

Rewriting Fairyland: Isabella Bird and the Spectacle of Nineteenth-Century Japan

(p.256) 16 Rewriting Fairyland: Isabella Bird and the Spectacle of Nineteenth-Century Japan
Women, Periodicals and Print Culture in Britain, 1830s-1900s

Andrea Kaston Tange

Edinburgh University Press

Illustrated papers were not only crucial for imaging women’s bodies and identities but also for depicting other cultures, often through an imperialist lens. As Andrea Kaston Tange notes in this essay, weeklies such as the Illustrated London News responded to the opening up of Japan after 1854 with illustrations ‘that tended to draw more heavily on tropes that depicted a country that was artistically very fine in part because it was simultaneously woefully behind in modern technologies’ (p. 273). To some degree, Isabella Bird (1831‒1904), in her travel narrative Unbeaten Tracks in Japan (1880), reiterates these Orientalist strategies, yet she also, through letterpress descriptions and visual representations, balanced ‘fairyland’ imagery with realist detail that defies stereotypes and self-reflexively draws attention to her own status as a foreign spectacle. Tange’s essay challenges us to view women writers’ relationship to the colonialist discourse of illustrated journalism in complex terms, as a ‘series of layered registers, a palimpsest of meaning’ (p. 273).

Keywords:   Isabella Bird, Japan, Visual culture, Orientalism, Colonialist discourse, Illustrated journalism, Travel writing

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