Uniform TitleGeographies of desire: Bayard Taylor and the romance of travel in bourgeois American culture, 1820-1880
NameUhlman, James Todd (author), Lears, Jackson (chair), Adas, Michael (internal member), Fabian, Ann (internal member), Gillis, John (internal member), Jacobson, Matthew (outside member), Rutgers University, Graduate School - New Brunswick,
Travel writing--History--19th century,
Taylor, Bayard, 1825-1878
DescriptionThis study explores the growth of bourgeois American society during the mid-nineteenth century. Phenomena such as colonialism, migration, international trade, industrialization, and print culture cut across geographic and political boundaries and were critical to the evolution of bourgeoisie. Complimenting these conditions were traditions of cosmological mythology and enlightenment ideals that produced a transnationalist, if not cosmopolitan, consciousness. Together these contributed to an acute awareness of mobility and spatial difference. Metaphors of travel captured the sense of personal transformation, possibility, and empowerment common within the cultures of bourgeois identity. The romance of travel and encounter became a powerful discursive and psychological devise for the construction and reproduction of bourgeois desires such as status, class cohesion, and social dominance in the fluid, socially ambiguous conditions of the day.
This study traces the significance of the romance of travel through a socially and geographically diverse gallery of individuals. It also examines the popular culture and institutions in which they participated. However, the narrative concentrates on the life of Bayard Taylor, a famed traveler, lecturer and writer of the day. Taylor serves as a representative figure. The journey of his rise to prominence, and the central role that a cosmopolitan geography of desire played in his popularity, are illuminating. Taylor's banality makes him useful as a means to investigate how the popular racial, gender, and class ideas surrounding bourgeois selfhood intertwined with a broader consciousness of the world outside the United States. Taylor exemplifies the way the romance of travel was utilized to adapt to and succeed in America.
More broadly the study sheds light on the strident attitudes of American exceptionalism that persist despite a long history characterized by cultural dependence, global interconnection, and multiethnic complexity. It emerged out of the tensions surrounding parochial-cosmopolitanism within bourgeois culture: between the realities of the transnationalist context of its birth and the parochial aims of asserting hegemony over local surroundings.
NoteIncludes bibliographical references.
CollectionGraduate School - New Brunswick Electronic Theses and Dissertations
Organization NameRutgers, The State University of New Jersey
RightsThe author owns the copyright to this work.