Travel writing and sexuality: queering the genre

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Sex and travel are hardly unfamiliar bedfellows; indeed, access to sex, especially when it is tabooed, has often been an impetus to travel in the first place. Yet if a significant body of research has been produced around gender and travel writing, especially on women’s writing, sexuality has seldom been an important criterion in the scholarly analysis of travel writing past and present. Apart from a few notable exceptions (Littlewood 2001; Phillips 2002; Jacobs 2012), the analysis of sexuality has usually been subsumed into discussions of gender, whilst ‘queer’ in travel writing studies is often used simply as a shorthand for gay and lesbian identities rather than as a methodological tool through which to approach the description of transgressive, alternative, or non-normative sexualities. Yet the burgeoning field of queer theory has the potential not only to create new inroads into well-known subjects, but also to contribute to an ongoing discussion of how bodies, identities and subjects are rendered and represented in the act of writing. In this chapter, accordingly, I explore some of the ways in which queer studies might productively intersect with travel writing studies. Rather than offering a comprehensive account or genealogy of queer travel writing, my aim is to highlight some key texts and moments where queer lives become more visible in travel writing
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Routledge Companion to Travel Writing
EditorsCarl Thompson
Place of PublicationAbingdon
Publication statusPublished - 19 Nov 2015


  • travel writing
  • sexuality
  • queer theory
  • English
  • literature


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