Figurehead of feminist tourism Simone de Beauvoir was the topic of the lecture presented by Dr. Claudia Bouliane, Assistant Professor of French in the Classical and Modern Languages Department, on October 30th in Clark Hall as part of the Arts Speaker Series.
The talk focused on her earlier writings and activities from approximately 1930 till the 1950s. It’s noted that in this time it was unusual to be travelling as a women, notably alone as she often found herself doing and unsheltered. Dr. Bouliane mentions how Beauvoir would have her male partner call ahead at times to book hotel rooms in order to avoid misconceptions of her person, as a single woman booking a room alone.
Her competitive nature and her strives towards being an original tourist are evident in that she often patronized her fellow tourists for their inability to travel on their own as they stuck in groups and followed an guide (often male) as opposed to relying upon a paper guide and working to plan their own trip. Hard work was emphasized as a large part of the travel experience, and in her own case as she was the one doing all the reading she was ultimately the one with the control over her travels.
Travel was described as a means of attaining freedom for women as they were able to step outside their typical realm of experience.The advertisement and depiction of women on the travel brochures was examined, for instance women would in some cases be shown alone on travel brochures doing something non-traditional, providing an image of an empowered woman who working class women could look up to. Dr. Bouliane also looks at how Beauvoir herself unintentionally followed the trends at times, instances where she’d believe herself the only European in the area only to eventually find herself interacting with someone she knew from Europe on her travels, even as she purposefully attempted to avoid the cliché.
Simone de Beauvoir lived in Paris, France and was alive from 1908 till 1986.