I am currently completing an accepted chapter, “Sins of Omission: ‘Unpacking’ the Rhetoric of Sexuality within Nineteenth-Century American Mothers’ Travel-Diaries” for the book, Travellin’ Mama: Mothers, Mothering and Travel by Demeter Press.
My chapter for this collection explores the writing choices of American travelling mothers and aims to reveal the purposeful, intentional and rhetorical omissions and edits commonly found in mothers’ travel-diaries concerning sex, menstruation, pregnancy and birth. This chapter further contributes to the research begun by such notable scholars as Lillian Schlissel and Suzanne L. Bunkers, illuminating how female diarists use “speech and silence selectively (whether consciously or unconsciously)” in order to “suppress [their] ideas” because their “right to speak has been denied” (Bunkers, 1988).
While there is some scholarship regarding the rhetoric of female diaries and sexuality, there is little evidence that scholars have realized the effects travel had on mother-diarists and their writing concerning sexuality. Consequently, this chapter exposes how travel perpetuated American mother-diarists to use omission and encoding, such as pathetic fallacy, as tools to both construct a benign sexual self within their travel-diaries and powerfully comment, albeit indirectly, on the sexual life of the American traveling mother.