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An American woman’s journey in Brazil: Gender in inequality in education

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modern history

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  1. Introduction
  2. Women travel writers
  3. Elizabeth Agassiz's trip to Brazil
  4. The system of formal education
  5. Equal interests of facts
  6. Lives of the upper class women
  7. Conclusion
  8. Bibliography

Historians are given a unique task; to gather information from a plethora of sources with a discernable eye, assess the credibility, corroborate and establish an accurate relay of events at any given period throughout the world. Here, the documentation and accounts of a woman traveler will be assessed. This account provides primary insight into the lives of both the women studied as well as the female authors. Elizabeth Agassiz's travel writings focus upon the women of Brazil, their culture and their daily lives. Here the writer's goal was to document what she experienced from her own point of view; of course, her opinion finds its way into the work. This work holds lasting, historical value because she is quick to point out differences between her home culture and the lives these women lead, all the while providing an important contrast between the two.

[...] While many of these writings began in journal form, by the end of the eighteenth century, with the advent of more accessible travel routes, some women began to write about their trips with the specific goal of having their memoirs published.[12] Gender stereotypes cannot be forgotten, however. Agassiz sought travel, and hoped to publish her writing, but she was unable to do so alone; she followed her husband abroad. As always, when assessing these histories, there is a human quotient. [...]

[...] At one point she mentions that they prod and poke at new visitors, ?examining, though not in a rough or rude Mrs. Agassiz's clothing and hair. It is through these behaviors that the locals are able to feel closeness with their foreign visitor. The reader, then, is shown how this culture regards visitors; providing an intriguingly valuable piece of social history. Agassiz is unable to separate the cultural from the gender differences. Upper class women lead staggeringly different lives than the lives led by lower class and Indian women. [...]

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