American Pacificism

Oceania in the U.S. Imagination

By Paul Lyons

© 2005 – Routledge

288 pages

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New in Paperback: 9780415645799
pub: 2012-07-13
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pub: 2005-11-24
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About the Book

This provocative analysis and critique of American representations of Oceania and Oceanians from the nineteenth century to the present, argues that imperial fantasies have glossed over a complex, violent history. It introduces the concept of ‘American Pacificism’, a theoretical framework that draws on contemporary theories of friendship, hospitality and tourism to refigure established debates around ‘orientalism’ for an Oceanian context.

Paul Lyons explores American-Islander relations and traces the ways in which two fundamental conceptions of Oceania have been entwined in the American imagination. On the one hand, the Pacific islands are seen as economic and geopolitical ‘stepping stones’, rather than ends in themselves, whilst on the other they are viewed as ends of the earth or ‘cultural limits’, unencumbered by notions of sin, antitheses to the industrial worlds of economic and political modernity. However, both conceptions obscure not only Islander cultures, but also innovative responses to incursion. The islands instead emerge in relation to American national identity, as places for scientific discovery, soul-saving and civilizing missions, manhood-testing adventure, nuclear testing and eroticized furloughs between maritime work and warfare.

Ranging from first contact and the colonial archive through to postcolonialism and global tourism, this thought-provoking volume draws upon a wide, rewarding collection of literary works, historical and cultural scholarship, government documents and tourist literature.

Table of Contents

Acknowledgements Introduction: Bound-Together Stories, Varieties of Ignorance, and the Challenge of Hospitality 1. Where "Cannibalism" Has Been, Tourism Will Be: Forms and Functions of American Pacificism 2. Opening Accounts in the South Seas: Edgar Allan Poe's Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym, James Fenimore Cooper's The Crater and the Antebellum Development of American Pacificism 3. Lines of Fright: Fear, Perception, Performance and the "Seen" of Cannibalism in Charles Wilkes' Narrative and Herman Melville's Typee 4. A Poetics of Relation: Friendships Between Oceanians and Americans in the Literature of Encounter 5. From Man-Eaters to Spam-Eaters: Cannibal Tours, Lotus-Eaters and the (anti)Development of Early Twentieth-Century Imaginings of Oceania 6. Redeeming Hawai'i (and Oceania) in Cold War Terms: A. Grove Day, James Michener and Histouricism Conclusion: Changing Pre-Scriptions: Varieties of Antitourism in the Contemporary Literatures of Oceania Bibliography

About the Author

Paul Lyons is Associate Professor of English at the University of Hawai´i-Manoa. He publishes and reviews regularly on American literature, and is the author of three novels. In 2004 he received the Board of Regents´ Award for Excellence in Teaching.

About the Series

Routledge Research in Postcolonial Literatures

Edited in collaboration with the Centre for Colonial and Postcolonial Studies, University of Kent at Canterbury, Routledge Research in Postcolonial Literatures presents a wide range of research into postcolonial literatures by specialists in the field. Volumes concentrate on writers and writing originating in previously (or presently) colonized areas, and include material from non-anglophone as well as anglophone colonies and literatures.

Part of our home for cutting-edge, upper-level scholarly studies and edited collections, this series considers postcolonial literature alongside topics such as gender, race, ecology, religion, politics, and science. Titles are characterized by dynamic interventions into established subjects and innovative studies on emerging topics. Series editors: Donna Landry and Caroline Rooney

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
LIT000000
LITERARY CRITICISM / General