Exotic Norths? Representations of Northern Scandinavia in S. H. Kent's Within the Arctic Circle and Bayard Taylor's Northern Travel


  • Maria Lindgren Leavenworth Umeå University




Bayard Taylor, S. H. Kent, Northern Travel, Within the Arctic Circle, exoticising exoticism, imperialist exoticism, Scandinavia, the North, discourse, modernity


In this article I analyse aspects connected to exoticism in Bayard Taylor's Northern Travel (1858) and Susannah Henrietta Kent's Within the Arctic Circle (1877). Despite gender differences and different seasons in which the travellers undertake their trips, there are similarities between the texts which indicate that discourses connected to the destination to an extent structure representations and determine what is to be rendered as exotic. The close readings are focused on Kent's and Taylor's depictions of Sami life, the cold, the perceived 'backwardness' of the area, the midnight sun and the northern lights. The analyses illustrate that two forms of exoticism feature in the travelogues; an exoticising exoticism figure aspects of the landscape and the people which are benevolently viewed and not in need of improvement or change, and an imperialist exoticism structure depictions of aspects which are seen as in need of amendment. Kent and Taylor express different aims with their journeys; the former to establish the area as a 'safe' destination for travellers of both genders and all ages, the latter to test his masculinity against the harsh climate. These different aims, as well as the time period which sees Scandinavia established as a tourist destination, thus threatening what was perceived as authentic travel experiences, are also discussed in the analyses of how both travellers vacillate between different exotic
constructions of the North.

Author Biography

Maria Lindgren Leavenworth, Umeå University

Maria Lindgren Leavenworth has a Ph. D. in English literature and works as an Assistant Professor at the Department of Language Studies, Umeå University, Sweden. Her doctoral thesis The Second Journey: Travelling in Literary Footsteps
(2000, 2010) focused on contemporary travel narratives modelled on previous journeys. Within the field of travel writing she has also written articles about the north, and about concepts connected to the cold. Publications include “‘The Art of Bookmaking’: Selina Bunbury’s Northern Journeys” (2008) and “Hatred was also left outside”: Journeys into the Cold in Le Guin’s The Left Hand of Darkness” (2009). Other research interests include remediation and participatory forms of
writing. She analyses how texts move from written to visual form in the article “‘A Life as Potent and Dangerous as Literature Itself’: Intermediated Moves from Mrs Dalloway to The Hours” (2010) and focuses on close readings of internetpublished fan fiction which in different ways employs the vampire trope. Her article “Lover Revamped: Sexualities and Romance in the Black Dagger Brotherhood and Slash Fan Fiction” is published in Extrapolation (2009).
Email: maria.lindgren@engelska.umu.se
Homepage: http://www.sprak.umu.se/om-institutionen/personal/maria-lindgrenleavenworth




How to Cite

Leavenworth, Maria Lindgren. 2010. “/I>”;. Nordlit, no. 26 (October):1-14. https://doi.org/10.7557/13.1047.