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Facing East, Facing West

Mark Twain's Following the Equator and Pandita Ramabai's The Peoples of the United States

Brian Yothers

Mark Twain's Following the Equator (1897), a narrative of a journey to the South Pacific, Australia, South Asia, and South Africa, has occupied a small but significant space in the consideration of Twain's wider career as both a travel writer and social critic. Twain's work has not, however, been considered in conjunction with the works of later nineteenth-century South Asian travelers in North America. The present article puts Twain's discussion of India and Ceylon (present-day Sri Lanka) in dialogue with Indian scholar and women's rights activist Pandita Ramabai's 1889 travelogue The Peoples of the United States.

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Global Captivities

Robert Knox's An Historical Relation of Ceylon and the New England Captivity Narrative Tradition

Brian Yothers

Robert Knox's An Historical Relation of Ceylon (1681) has not been afforded the same critical attention as seventeenth-century captivity narratives from the Americas. This article suggests that considering Knox's work alongside American captivity narratives can help to suggest a more global, comparative approach to the study of captivity, colonialism, and cross-cultural negotiations.

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Naghmeh Sohrabi and Brian Yothers

Houari Touati, Islam and Travel in the Middle Ages (2010)

Eleftheria Arapoglou, A Bridge Over the Balkans: Demetra Vaka Brown and the Tradition of “Women's Orients“ (2011)

Susan L. Roberson, Antebellum American Women Writers and the Road: American Mobilities (2011)

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Brian Yothers and Pramod K. Nayar

From John Donne’s appropriation of “both the Indias of Spice and mine” as a metaphor for erotic fulfillment to the unexpected success of Slumdog Millionaire at the 2009 Academy Awards, South Asia and the Americas have been linked discursively in Anglophone literature and film despite their geographic distance from each other. Throughout the nineteenth century, South Asian religious and philosophical traditions contributed substantially to shaping the thought of such central American literary figures as Ralph Waldo Emerson, Margaret Fuller, Henry David Thoreau, Walt Whitman, and Herman Melville. Trade and missionary accounts brought back from South Asia meant that even so reclusive a literary figure as Emily Dickinson found occasion to mention Ceylon (Sri Lanka) in her letters. By the late nineteenth century, travel between the Americas and South Asia had become a two-way affair, and the amount of traffic has been increasing ever since. The articles in this issue span a period from the late nineteenth century to the early twenty-first century, and they address four important modes of travel and cultural exchange between South Asia and the English-speaking portions of the Americas.

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Brian Yothers, Gillian Dooley, Guy Galazka, Peter Weisensel, Jackie Coon, Magdalena Banaszkiewicz and David Cashman