New Books: American Travel Literature, Gendered Aesthetics, and the Italian Tour, 1824-62

Author: Brigitte Bailey

American Travel Literature, Gendered Aesthetics, and the Italian Tour, 1824-62

Edinburgh University Press, 2018

American Travel Literature analyzes tourist writings about Italy from 1824 to 1862 to explain what roles transatlantic travel, aesthetic response and the genre of tourist writing played in the formation of the United States. The Italian tour and its textual and visual expressions were forms through which predominantly white, northeastern elites dreamed their way into national identity and cultural authority. Its interdisciplinary methodology draws on antebellum visual culture, tourist practices and shifting class and gender identities to describe tourism and tourist writing as shapers of an elite (and then normative) national subjectivity. Bringing perspectives from art history and aesthetics, it historicises aesthetic practices, illuminating the depth of Americans’ turn towards visual iconography in articulating social and national identities.

The book investigates tourists’ triangulations of the categories of ‘England’, ‘Italy’ and ‘America’, discusses authors understood as national representatives − Irving, Cooper, Sedgwick, Kirkland, Fuller, Hawthorne and Stowe − in the context of other US and European writers and artists and looks at transatlantic tourist writing as a significant genre of the period that shaped the nation.

Available in print and digital formats with paperback edition forthcoming September 1, 2019. Purchase here.