Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Comparative Literature

First Advisor

Charles Ross

Committee Member 1

Paul Dixon

Committee Member 2

Marcia Stephenson

Committee Member 3

Angelica Duran


The technological progress of the nineteenth century made travelling across the seas and the publishing of travel narratives both possible and desirable. Women used this as an opportunity to gain greater freedom of mobility and authorship. Instead of focusing on solitary travelers, this dissertation brings to the forefront the elaborate rhetoric and discourse strategies married women travel writers used in their narrative to transcend their husband's shadow. The British Lady Florence Dixie (1855-1905), the Argentine Eduarda Mansilla de García (1834-1892), and the American Elizabeth Cabot Agassiz (1822-1907) are pionner women that accompany their husbands on travels to foreign lands and assert their independence by writing and publishing travel narratives. I analyze Dixie's Across Patagonia (1880), Mansilla's Recuerdos de viaje [Memories from Travels] (1882), and Agassiz's A Journey in Brazil (1868) to propose that the three traveling women writers created an elaborate rhetoric, based on aspects of religion, literature, politics, and science, which shaped the dissemination of knowledge in the nineteenth century. Dixie traveled from England to Patagonia in search of adventure. In the narrative, she defends women's equal abilities in outdoor sports and women's smart attire. Mansilla traveled from Argentina to the United States. One of the few women travelers with children, she used a discourse of motherhood to establish her point of view: the superiority of Argentina. However, there is a narrative shift in Mansilla's work because after a few years living in the U.S. she begins to admire American women and the cities' architecture. Agassiz traveled from the U.S. to Brazil with the Thayer Expedition from 1865 to 1866. Her travel narrative is structured as a scientific account informed by natural history discourse. In her work, Agassiz innovates by including aspects of social organization, an anthropologic view, to her arguments. With travel narratives, Florence Dixie, Eduarda Mansilla, and Elizabeth Agassiz found a way to use their sex and marital status to transcend their husbands' career and shape the dissemination of knowledge in the nineteenth century.