Presentation Details

The Second International Conference on New Directions in the Humanities

The Recreation of Self through Travel: The American "New Woman" and Italy, 1880-1920

Dr Kathleen S Carter.

During the period 1880 to 1920, the phenomenon of the American "New Woman" emerged--independent and eager to embrace life outside the household for greater realization of self. For some American "New Women," extended travel within Italy became the vehicle through which they achieved this self-realization. It is my argument that the experience of being in Italy was transformational in significant ways. As is true today, independent travel demanded self-reliance. Exposure to people from another culture fostered increasing awareness of what defined the traveler as different from the people she met along the way. Humor, which is present in nearly all travel accounts examined from the period, provided a tool for the traveler to establish her own sense of superiority, a breakaway from the traditional mold of women's submissiveness. The American identity of the traveler was also strongly enforced in opposition to the Italian culture within which she placed herself. At the same time, the "New Woman" traveler embraced Italian culture, thus redefining herself.


Dr Kathleen S Carter  (United States)
Professor of History
Department of History
High Point University

I earned my Ph.D. in history from Duke University in 1979. I have taught American History and Western Civilization at High Point University since 1978. My interests include the history of women and environmental history. These, combined with several trips to Italy, have produced my proposal's focus.

  • Women
  • Woman
  • Travel
  • Italy
  • Italian
  • Europe
  • European
  • America
  • American
  • United States
  • Travel Accounts
  • New Woman

(30 min. Conference Paper, English)