The captain's best mate : gender, genre, and representation in women's whaling journals, letters, and memoirs, 1823 to 1915

Ried, Melanie Summer
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[Honolulu] : [University of Hawaii at Manoa], [August 2013]
This dissertation examines seventy-four journals, collections of letters, and memoirs written by sixty-one different women during their voyages on whaling ships in the nineteenth century, most unpublished. I examine the patterns and anomalies of content, genre, and rhetoric in the writings; by doing so, I reveal how the women perform gender, class, and national identity, and how they adhere to, breach, and/or negotiate these ideological constructs through their writing. I argue that the collage of genres and representations, and consistency in content, rhetoric, and tone make these whaling wives' journals a unique sub-genre of nineteenth-century literature. As well, my dissertation is the first large-scale examination of how the women employ multiple genres and how elements of travel narrative and foreign commentary inform the whaling women's journals. Chapter One analyzes the material and ideological conditions that led the women to sail, and also spatially and socially separated them from the sailors and purpose of the voyage. Chapter Two examines the women's performances of domesticity throughout the voyages; Chapter Three analyzes the women's travel narratives. Chapter Four takes a closer look at two particular women's journals and five of the short memoirs.
Ph.D. University of Hawaii at Manoa 2013.
Includes bibliographical references.
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