James UdenJun 16, 2022
Worlds of Knowledge in Women's Travel Writing
Ilex Foundation 2022
On February 1st, 1936, Begum Hasrat Mohani, famed Indian writer and independence activist, sends the first of several letters to her daughter. She’s traveling on the Hajj, passing through Iran and Iraq on her way to Mecca. Along the way, she writes to her daughter, noting the sights and sounds she experiences on her pilgrimage–and give us a glimpse into a different kind of travel writing, from a different kind of travel writer.
Those letters are the subject of Daniel Majchrowicz’s chapter in Worlds of Knowledge in Women’s Travel Writing (Ilex Foundation: 2022), edited by James Uden. The book covers travel writing by women, mostly in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, as they travel through Europe, the Middle East and Asia.
Both James and Daniel join us today to talk about their book, and their respective chapters. In this interview, we talk about what makes these examples of travel writing so interesting, and what the genre of travel writing means today after two years of travel restrictions.
James Uden is Associate Professor of Classical Studies at Boston University.researches and writes about Latin literature and the transformation of ancient ideas in later eras, especially the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. He has published essays on a broad range of topics, including Catullus, Virgil, love elegy, travel literature, and ancient fable. His first book, The Invisible Satirist: Juvenal and Second-Century Rome (Oxford University Press: 2014), offers a new interpretation of the poems of Juvenal, showing how these texts responded to changing conceptions of Roman identity and contemporary trends in Greek rhetoric and philosophy. His second book, Spectres of Antiquity: Classical Literature and the Gothic, 1740-1830 (Oxford University Press: 2020) explores the work of British and American novelists of the eighteenth century.
Daniel Majchrowicz is Assistant Professor of South Asian Literature and Culture at Northwestern University. His research considers the history and culture of Muslims and Islam in South Asia with an emphasis on Urdu literature, travel writing, popular culture, and language politics. He is a translator from Urdu, Hindi, Punjabi, and Persian, and currently the director of the South Asia Research Forum. Daniel is also an editor of the forthcoming Three Centuries of Travel Writing by Muslim Women (Indiana University Press: 2022)
You can find more reviews, excerpts, interviews, and essays at The Asian Review of Books, including its review of Worlds of Knowledge in Women’s Travel Writing. Follow on Facebook or on Twitter at @BookReviewsAsia.
Nicholas Gordon is an associate editor for a global magazine, and a reviewer for the Asian Review of Books. He can be found on Twitter at@nickrigordon.