LGBT Research Community

Women travellers exploring gender in the Canadian North at the beginning of the 20th century

August 6, 2013
by Laurence Georgin

This PhD research looks at British women who travelled to the Canadian North at the beginning of the 20th century, particularly women who travelled on their own or with a female companion. Very much like their male counterparts had done for centuries, these women travelled to Canada in order to discover new territories and explore unfamiliar places. At the beginning of the 20th century, the Victorian influence was still very present and the world was divided into distinct gender categories. The public sphere was reserved to men while women were destined for the home.

This research suggests that these women craved for something more than what their gender could bring and headed towards the Canadian North in the hope that it would liberate them from the weight and constrains of the female gender, even for a short amount of time. Until now, women who travelled to the Canadian North have been studied within a feminist perspective. This research also aims to revisit their motivations and achievements in the light of, and expanding on, Judith Butler’s concept of gender performativity. In opposition to a feminist definition of woman as a closed category, this new approach hopes to demonstrate that it may be more appropriate to use Butler’s open and fluid gender definition to study these women, who moved away from rigid and constricted environments to discover themselves, and not to enclose them again in a static definition, which they strove to escape.

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Name: Ms Laurence Georgin


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Categories: Area studies, English and History. Tags: Feminism, Gender, Gender studies, Home and Travel.