Ellen M. Rogers as a Feminist and Orientalist Travel Writer: A Study of her A Winter in Algeria: 1863-4 (1865)

Mouloud Siber

Abstract

This article studies the Orientalist and Feminist discourses that underlay Ellen M. Rogers’s A Winter in Algeria: 1863-4 (1865). Her conception of Algeria reproduces the Victorian imperialist attitude toward the Algerian as inferior to the European in order to celebrate British imperial power. Underneath this colonial discourse, the writer proclaims her feminist point of view about empire and juxtaposes feminist attitudes in Victorian Britain with the degraded condition of the Oriental woman. To contribute to Victorian feminist struggle for gender equality, she identifies with the suffering of Muslim Algerian women under male domination and compares their confinement to the harem and their veiling to Victorian “separate spheres” ideology. From this perspective, Rogers presents the profiles of the Orientalist as defined by Edward Said (1978) and the feminist as defined by Antoinette Burton (1994). Said limits his discussion of Orientalism to male writers and travelers who construct imperialist views about the colonial world and its people. However, Burton argues that many Victorian travel writers were women who not only circulated Orientalist ideas but also constructed a feminist discourse. Women writers found in the colonial world ways to cross the boundaries of gender and power in order to criticize male writers who insisted on women’s inferior status. In sum, the major claim made in this article is that Ellen M. Rogers projects a feminist-Orientalist view in her travel account about French Algeria.

Keywords

Feminism; Orientalism; Victorian travel writing; Algeria; Rogers; Oriental woman; Victorian woman



DOI: https://doi.org/10.14198/raei.2016.29.12