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Title: Paintings & palanquins : the language of visual aesthetics and the picturesque in accounts of British women's travels in India from 1822 to 1846
Author: Marsh, Kimberly
ISNI:       0000 0001 2409 3713
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2017
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This thesis explores the Picturesque as a visual aesthetic that is often self-consciously employed in the travel accounts of British women in India in the first half of the nineteenth century. It addresses how three women - Fanny Parks, Marianne Postans, and Emily Eden - made use of the language of aesthetics, in particular that of the Picturesque (a style deemed especially appropriate for women travellers) in a variety of ways: first, to help them understand and relate to their experiences in this foreign land; second, to convey these experiences to their audiences back home; and, third to carve out what frequently becomes a feminised space within the established (and predominantly masculine) field of travel writing. The approach is largely historicist in order to situate the authors (and artists) within their contemporary cultural, social, and political context. My work builds upon that of literary scholars Elizabeth Bohls, Nigel Leask, and Sara Suleri in its interweaving of historical research and visual aesthetics with a literary analysis of travel writing and colonialism, bringing to bear their insights on authors previously little or not at all addressed in critical literature. Expanding on the notion of the 'Indian picturesque', which Leask begins to shape in his work, I bring Parks, Postans, and Eden into dialogue with the suggestions of Bohls and Suleri that women travel writers adapt the traditionally masculine ideal of the Picturesque aesthetic. After an introduction and two chapters which explore the broader themes concerning the development of the Picturesque and its influence on British artistic representations of India, I briefly summarise how this visual aesthetic came to be applied to written texts about travels in the region, beginning with the texts produced by male travellers, and with a specific focus on the travel narrative of Captain Godfrey Charles Mundy, whose accounts are referenced in Fanny Parks' work. My thesis then offers three case studies considering each writer in order of their arrival in India - starting with Fanny Parks' autobiography of her travels (published in 1850), followed by the published works of Marianne Postans in the 1830s, and through to those of Emily Eden, relating to her travels in the same decade and published in 1866. Aside from drawing on the aesthetics of visual art, the discussion of each author also addresses the importance of other sources to which they allude that enable aesthetic responses to India's landscape and peoples.
Supervisor: Ballaster, Ros ; Sergeant, David R. C. Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: British India ; Women's travel writing ; Picturesque in literature ; Women's Travel Writing ; 19th Century ; The Picturesque