1st Edition

Reading Transatlantic Girlhood in the Long Nineteenth Century

Edited By Robin L. Cadwallader, LuElla D’Amico Copyright 2020
    234 Pages 2 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    234 Pages 2 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    This collection is the first of its kind to interrogate both literal and metaphorical transatlantic exchanges of culture and ideas in nineteenth-century girls’ fiction. As such, it initiates conversations about how the motif of travel in literature taught nineteenth-century girl audiences to reexamine their own cultural biases by offering a fresh perspective on literature that is often studied primarily within a national context. Women and children in nineteenth-century America are often described as being tied to the home and the domestic sphere, but this collection challenges this categorization and shows that girls in particular were often expected to go abroad and to learn new cultural frames in order to enter the realm of adulthood; those who could not afford to go abroad literally could do so through the stories that traveled to them from other lands or the stories they read of others’ travels. Via transatlantic exchange, then, authors, readers, and the characters in the texts covered in this collection confront the idea of what constitutes the self. Books examined in this volume include Adeline Trafton’s An American Girl Abroad (1872), Johanna Spyri’s Heidi (1881), and Elizabeth W. Champney’s eleven-book Vassar Girl Series (1883-92), among others.

    Introduction: "Little Women" in a Transatlantic World

    Section 1: Transatlantic Girlhood

    Travel Girl: The Value of Physical Fitness in Susan Warner’s The Wide, Wide World Christiane E. Farnan

    A Swiss-American Merger: Reading Johanna Spyri’s Heidi Within and Beyond the Canon of Nineteenth-Century American Sentimental Fiction

    LuElla D’Amico and Tanja Stampfl

    Anne’s Transatlantic Imagination: Reading as Travel in Anne of Green Gables

    Amanda L. Anderson

    Section 2: American Girls Abroad

    "The delightful story was first in their minds": Dispelling Stereotypes While Indulging in Fictions in Elizabeth W. Champney’s Three Vassar Girls in England

    Joyce E. Kelley

    Girls’ Travel Fiction as Portable College: Elizabeth W. Champney’s Vassar Girls Series

    Kathleen Chamberlain

    "Is she a princess or only an American?": Transatlantic Travel and Identity Formation in Kate Douglas Wiggin’s Penelope Series

    Brittany Biesiada

    A World of Possibilities: Travel and Maturation in the Novels of Mary Jane Holmes

    Lee Ann Elliott Westman

    "everything, so indescribable, so never-to-be-forgotten": Reading Adeline Trafton’s An American Girl Abroad as a Cautionary Tale

    Robin L. Cadwallader

    Dreams of Youth: The Girl, the Writer, and the Nation in Catharine Maria Sedgwick’s Letters from Abroad

    Jordan L. Von Cannon

    Section 3: Girlhood, Humane Offerings, and the Transatlantic Nature of Ideas

    "Our humble words have gone over the seas": The Transatlantic Circulation of The Lowell Offering

    Amber Shaw

    A Transatlantic Queering of Kindness: Animality, Natural Childhood, and the Gendering of Humane Education

    Kathryn Yeniyurt



    Robin L. Cadwallader is a Professor of English and the Director of the Women’s Studies Program at Saint Francis University, Pennsylvania, where she teaches American literature, women’s literature, young adult literature, and theory.

    LuElla D’Amico is an Assistant Professor of English and Coordinator of the Women’s and Gender Studies Program at the University of the Incarnate Word in San Antonio, Texas.

    The front matter of this excellent volume states that it looks at “literal and metaphorical transatlantic exchanges of culture and ideas.” Taking girls' fiction seriously and focusing on actual and imagined travel, the collection investigates the pedagogical and imaginary value of fiction about girls traveling across the Atlantic. Cadwallader (Saint Francis Univ.) and D'Amico (Univ. of the Incarnate Word) point out that some privileged girls actually traveled across the Atlantic, but many more were engaged by travel narratives. In these pages, readers will encounter various 19th-century novels and series that either included some travel (e.g., Lucy Maud Montgomery's Anne of Green Gables) or focused entirely on travel. Elizabeth Champney's "Three Vassar Girls" series foregrounded the nascent category of college women in the US. Kate Wiggin's Penelope series, though ending in marriage for the protagonist, suggests further travels and mobility. Mary Jane Holmes wrote novels that gave girls, as protagonists, spatial opportunities afforded by travel. Most of the contributors find moments or themes of transgressive gender agency on the part of girls, and in her contribution, Cadwallader finds Adeline Trafton's An American Girl Abroad to offer a cautionary tale. All the essays are well written and a pleasure to read. Summing Up: Recommended.

    --A. N. Valdivia, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign