Skip to content. | Skip to navigation

Personal tools

Navigation

Travelers, Immigrants, Inmates

Essays in Estrangement

1995
Author:

Frances Bartkowski

Travelers, Immigrants, Inmates

Uses travel writings, U.S. immigrant autobiographies, and concentration camp memoirs to illustrate how tales of dislocation present readers with a picture of the complex issues surrounding mistaken identities. Bartkowski's elegantly written and incisive book stands at the crossroads of contemporary thought in cultural studies and ethnicity, race and gender, nationalism, and the politics and poetics of identity.

Uses travel writings, U.S. immigrant autobiographies, and concentration camp memoirs to illustrate how tales of dislocation present readers with a picture of the complex issues surrounding mistaken identities. Bartkowski's elegantly written and incisive book stands at the crossroads of contemporary thought in cultural studies and ethnicity, race and gender, nationalism, and the politics and poetics of identity.

Working at the intersection of psychoanalysis and politics, Bartkowski offers a set of insightful readings that set out to capture the variety-and the sameness-of metropolitan subjectivities at critical stress points. The move from the literature of travel to immigration writing to the overwhelming texts of the holocaust progressively deepens the inquiry into selfhood and displacement. Bartkowski's against-the-grain argument that identity is worth talking about precisely because identities never fit is sophisticated and convincing.

Mary Louise Pratt, Stanford University

Identities are always mistaken; yet they are as necessary as air to sustain life in and among communities. Frances Bartkowski uses travel writings, U.S. immigrant autobiographies, and concentration camp memoirs to illustrate how tales of dislocation present readers with a picture of the complex issues surrounding mistaken identities. In turn, we learn much about the intimate relation between language and power.

Combining psychoanalytic and political modes of analysis, Bartkowski explores the intertwining of place and the construction of identities. The numerous writings she considers include André Gide's Voyage to the Congo, Eva Hoffman's Lost in Translation, Sandra Cisneros's House on Mango Street, Zora Neale Hurston's Dust Tracks on a Road and Tell My Horse, and Primo Levi's Survival in Auschwitz.

Elegantly written and incisive, Travelers, Immigrants, Inmates stands at the crossroads of contemporary discussions about ethnicity, race, gender, nationalism, and the politics and poetics of identity. It has much to offer readers interested in questions of identity and cultural differences.

Frances Bartkowski is associate professor of English and director of women's studies at Rutgers University in Newark. She is the author of Feminist Utopias (1989).

Travelers, Immigrants, Inmates

Frances Bartkowski is a member of the English department and has previously served as Director of the Women’s Studies Program at the Graduate program at Rutgers. She is the author of Feminist Utopias (University of Nebraska Press), and Travelers, Immigrants, Inmates: Essays in Estrangement (University of Minnesota Press). She is the co-editor with Wendy Kolmar of Feminist Theory: A Reader (McGraw-Hill).

Her current research for Kissing Cousins: A Kinship Bestiary for a New Century focuses on questions of kinship at the turn of the 21st century. She is also working on a novel, and a poetry manuscript. She teaches courses on contemporary autobiography, memoir, and women writers; she also regularly teaches feminist theory courses at the undergraduate and graduate level.

Travelers, Immigrants, Inmates

“Travelers, Immigrants, Inmates is a fascinating study of the ‘seduction by elsewhere’ and compulsive travelling.” Women’s Studies: An Interdisciplinary Journal

Working at the intersection of psychoanalysis and politics, Bartkowski offers a set of insightful readings that set out to capture the variety-and the sameness-of metropolitan subjectivities at critical stress points. The move from the literature of travel to immigration writing to the overwhelming texts of the holocaust progressively deepens the inquiry into selfhood and displacement. Bartkowski's against-the-grain argument that identity is worth talking about precisely because identities never fit is sophisticated and convincing.

Mary Louise Pratt, Stanford University

“This mosaic is that of the traveler in search of the exotic, the immigrant who (to the self at least) feels compelled to experience the ‘other’, and the inmate in the context of the Holocaust: each is a wayfarer experiencing wonder, shame, and sometimes horror in the unfolding of the self. Bartkowski’s methodology involves detailed introductions and running commentaries on chosen texts. . . . . interesting postmodern approach to an (emerging) psychogenre of travel writing.” Choice