This thesis examines the convergence of neoliberal rhetoric across popular media, academic, and institutional discourses, and draws connections between contemporary women's travel literature and common scripts in study abroad promotion. Finding such narratives to be freighted with ethnocentric constructs and tacit endorsements of market-based globalization, I critique the mainstreaming of neoliberal attitudes that depict travel as a commodity primarily valuable for its role in increasing the worth of U.S. American personhood. I question both the prevailing definitions of "global citizenship" and the ubiquitous claims that study abroad prepares students for "success in the global economy" as ideological signifiers of a higher education system that is increasingly corporatized.
Utilizing a postcolonial and transnational feminist theoretical framework, the thesis offers a literary analysis of contemporary women's travel memoirs, examining patterns of narcissism and "othering" in their depictions of cross-cultural encounter, and connects these neoliberal trends to consumerism in higher education, study abroad, and post-second wave feminism. Shared themes in the representation of privileged U.S./Western women abroad and the student-consumer model in higher education bespeak a movement toward individual international engagements that reinforce corporate motives for travel and endorse the commodification of global environments, cultures, and people. In hopes of contesting this paradigm, I argue for the reassertion of a social justice-oriented definition of global citizenship and for educational models that foster self-criticism and the decolonization of knowledge.