Affiliation: College of Arts and Sciences, Department of English and Comparative Literature
While some contemporary scholars have examined the nineteenth-century evolution of voyage and exploration literature, the cultural critic Joseph Roach has shown how surrogation, or reinventive replacement of lost elements, produces culture. I integrate these two critical pursuits by examining nineteenth-century literary surrogations of a haunting pantheon: famous British voyagers who mysteriously vanished overseas. I argue that the occasion of voyager disappearance creates a rupture in the official expedition narrative, which presents writers with the opportunity to reinvent and repurpose that narrative to serve new rhetorical purposes. Nineteenth-century coterie authors repurposed vanished voyagers' narratives to sidelines official voyagers and instead foreground figures that I call outsider voyagers: traveling savages, political pariahs, Byronic heroes, non-English Britons, women, and queer subjects. I contend that nineteenth-century authors including Mary Shelley, Lord Byron, and James Malcolm Rymer present their outsider voyager protagonists as travelers, writers, and cultural critics, whose unauthorized voyage narratives depart from the official voyage-narrative tradition by questioning British imperialism, patriarchy, and other elite ideologies. By surrogating historical and largely forgotten vanished voyagers, nineteenth-century British writers facilitated the emergence of the outsider voyager protagonist.