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Yaël Schlick


My teaching and research interests include travel writing, metafiction, poetry, the historical novel, and literary non-fiction.  

In recent years, some of my research has been in the archives: At Ohio State University, I examined documents having to do with the contentious composition of explorer Richard Byrd’s best-selling Polar adventure, Alone, a work largely ghost-written by Charles Murphy; at Vassar College I researched Elizabeth Bishop’s use of the postcard and her development of a picturesque aesthetic as seen in her travel writings, journals and poems. Currently I’m reading material in the Martha Gellhorn archive at Boston University, working on a project that will utilize biography as a means of exploring the intriguing connections between her writing as a war correspondent, as a traveler, and as a novelist and short story writer. It’s her correspondence, though, that often gives me the strongest sense of the force and liveliness of her personality. She minces no words: “What, what, WHAT has happened to you?,” she writes to her friend Bernard Perlin. “You cannot, like all Americans, have lost the power to set pen to paper? Reassure me, please.” Her archive is a rich trove of material about her fascinating life as well as a veritable catalog of the woes of the twentieth century.


Research Interests

Contemporary fiction; American poetry; travel writing; metafiction; autobiography & literary non-fiction

Selected Publications



Metafiction explores the great variety and effects of this popular genre and style, variously defined as a type of literature that philosophically questions itself, that repudiates the conventions of literary realism, that questions the relationship between fiction and reality, or that lies at the border between fiction and non-fiction. Yaël Schlick surveys a wide range of metafictional writings by diverse authors, with particular focus on the contemporary period.

This book asks not only what metafiction is but also what it can do, examining metafictional narratives' usefulness for exploring the role of art in society, its role in conceptualizing the figure of author and the reader of fiction, its investigation and playfulness with respect to language and linguistic conventions, and its troubling of the boundaries between fact and fiction in historiographic metafiction, autofiction, and autotheory.

Metafiction is an engaging and accessible introduction to a pervasive and influential form and concept in literary studies, and will be of use to all students of literary studies requiring a depth of knowledge in the subject.



Feminism and the Politics of Travel After the Enlightenment

Bucknell University Press

Taking the Enlightenment and the feminist tradition to which it gave rise as its historical and philosophical coordinates, Feminism and the Politics of Travel After the Enlightenment explores travel as a “technology of gender.” It also investigates the way travel’s utopian dimension and feminism’s utopian ideals have intermittently fed off each other in productive ways. With broad historical and theoretical understanding, Yaël Schlick analyzes the intersections of travel and feminism in writings published during the late eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, a period of intense feminist vindication during which women’s very presence in the public sphere, their access to education, and their political participation were contentious issues. Schlick examines the gendering of travel and its political implications in Rousseau’s Emile, and in works by Mary Wollstonecraft, Stéphanie-Félicité de Genlis, Frances Burney, Germaine de Staël, Suzanne Voilquin, Flora Tristan, Gustave Flaubert, and George Sand, arguing that travel is instrumental in furthering diverse feminist agendas. The epilogue alerts us to the continuation of the utopian strain of the voyage and its link to feminism in modern and contemporary travelogues by writers like Mary Kingsley, Robyn Davidson and Sara Wheeler.

Refiguring the Coquette: Essays on Culture and Coquetry

Bucknell University Press

This is a collection of nine original essays selected and edited with a twofold aim: to establish the parameters of coquetry as it was defined and represented in the long eighteenth century, and to reconsider this traditional figure in light of recent work in cultural and gender studies. The essays provide analyses of lesser-known works, examine the depiction of the coquette in popular culture, explore the importance of coquetry as a contemporary term applicable to men as well as women, and amplify current theorization of the coquette. By bringing together the diverse contexts and genres in which the figure of the coquette is articulated - drama, art, fiction, life-writing - Refiguring the Coquette offers alternative perspectives on this central figure in eighteenth-century culture. 

Edited by Shelley King and Yäel Schlick 

Essay on Exoticism: An Aesthetics of Diversity

Duke University Press

The “Other”—source of fear and fascination; emblem of difference demonized and romanticized. Theories of alterity and cultural diversity abound in the contemporary academic landscape. Victor Segalen’s early attempt to theorize the exotic is a crucial reference point for all discussions of alterity, diversity, and ethnicity. Written over the course of fourteen years between 1904 and 1918, at the height of the age of imperialism, Essay on Exoticism encompasses Segalen’s attempts to define “true Exoticism.” This concept, he hoped, would not only replace nineteenth-century notions of exoticism that he considered tawdry and romantic, but also redirect his contemporaries’ propensity to reduce the exotic to the “colonial.” His critique envisions a mechanism that appreciates cultural difference—which it posits as an aesthetic and ontological value—rather than assimilating it: “Exoticism’s power is nothing other than the ability to conceive otherwise,” he writes. Segalen’s pioneering work on otherness anticipates and informs much of the current postcolonial critique of colonial discourse. As such Essay on Exoticism is essential reading for both cultural theorists or those with an interest in the politics of difference and diversity.

Translated and edited by Yäel Schlick 

Additional Publications 

  • “'All the untidy activity': Travel & the Picturesque in Elizabeth Bishop’s Writings,” Elizabeth Bishop and the Literary Archive, Bethany Hicok, ed. (Lever Press, 2019): 173-192.
  • “Writing Alone Together: Richard Byrd’s Antarctic Classic and the Challenges of Reading Collaborative Autobiography,” The Polar Journal 6.2 (2016): 328-342.
  • “Writing Wonder: Elizabeth Bishop’s Ethics of Perception,” Environmental Ethics 36.3 (Fall 2014): 319-332.
  • “What Is an Experience? Selves and Texts in the Comics Autobiographies of Alison Bechdel and Lynda Barry,” Drawing from Life: Memory and Subjectivity in Comic Art, Jane Tolmie, ed. (University Press of Mississippi, 2013): 26–43.
Genres and Forms
Autobiography and Memoir
Literary Theory and Criticism
Poetry and Poetics
Travel Writing

Department of English, Queen's University

Watson Hall
49 Bader Lane
Kingston ON K7L 3N6

Telephone (613) 533-2153


Telephone (613) 533-6000 ext. 74446 extension 74446


Telephone (613) 533-6000 ext. 74447 extension 74447

Queen's University is situated on traditional Haudenosaunee and Anishinaabe territory.