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Title: Mary Wortley Montagu’s Turkish Letters: Constructions of Identity within Feminine Spaces
Authors: Jansson, Tea
Date: 2004-12
Issue Date: 2016-09-06 15:52:55 (UTC+8)
Abstract: Mary Wortley Montagu’s Letters during Mr. Wortley's Embassy to Constantinople written during the time her husband Edward Wortley Montagu was the ambassador of Britain in Turkey from 1716 to 1718. These travel letters, which are Mary Wortley Montagu’s best-known literary work, deal with such topics as religion, literature, customs, and architecture, but most of all with depictions of Turkish women. In this article I will analyse the way Wortley Montagu depicts her own and the Turkish women’s agency and identity. In the letters Mary Wortley Montagu constructs her own identity as an eighteenth-century aristocratic female travel writer, but also simultaneously as a changing and adapting hybrid subject within the pressures of the genre. As a travel writer, Wortley Montagu is somewhat exceptional, since she strives to become integrated into the local culture, and becomes what I will interpret a nomadic subject, or “half a Turk,” as she herself writes in one of her letters. The nomadic qualities I will explore in Wortley Montagu’s letters include critical awareness of cultures, subversion and resistance of conventions, adaptation of different cultural features, multilingualism and writing. Her deep admiration of the Turkish upper-class ladies and appreciation of their multicultural hybrid subjectivities, leads to Wortley Montagu’s identification with Turkish women rather than with other Westerners. Her willingness to identify with the Turkish ladies is mainly based on their perceived freedom. Wortley Montagu sees gender segregation and the practise of veiling as liberating and empowering practises for women. She learns to know Turkish women by interacting with them in the feminine spaces of the harems and bathhouses, in which women can form their own community, and in which they can interact and define their own identity. I will analyse the representations of what Wortley Montagu considers feminine spaces—the harem, the bathhouse, and symbolically, the veil.
Relation: 臺灣英美文學期刊, 2(2), 71-109
Taiwan journal of English literature
Data Type: article
Appears in Collections:[文山評論:文學與文化 THCI Core] 期刊論文

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