Writing on the Run: Travel in Nineteenth-Century Mexico
West, Ty Hill
This dissertation questions the viability of nation-building in nineteenth-century Mexico through an analysis of travel writing, the circulation of documents, and the representation of subjects in transit. I study a wide variety of texts (diaries, chronicles, calendars, travel accounts, novels, images, and letters) to analyze nation-building through its discontents. My study combines the discursive construction of transatlantic and transcultural threats to national identity, such as the French Intervention, the Mexican-American War, and the indigenous Caste War, with the contradictory role of the press that both represented an “imagined community” and propagated the representation of what threatened such a community. I focus on what I call writing on the run: writing on the run (texts produced while on the road), and writing on the run (writers writing about travel and the circulation of ideas). Through this mode of inquiry, I conclude that nineteenth-century writers and the media where their texts were published employed notions of travel to discuss the advantages and threats of the circulation of ideas to liberal and conservative thought, often showing how their circulation took these ideas well beyond their original thought and put into question the notion of an imagined community.