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Title: Sea-room : the early Pacific writing of Herman Melville
Author: Hughes, T.
Awarding Body: University of Cambridge
Current Institution: University of Cambridge
Date of Award: 2002
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My dissertation examines the early writings of Herman Melville in the context of American representation of the Pacific produced during the first half of the nineteenth century. Starting from the premise that critical accounts of Melville's literary development have tended to overlook the Pacific contexts of his first three books - Typee, Omoo and Mardi - I attempt to situate them in terms of various traditions of western voyage, travel and historical writing on the region. The writing of nineteenth century American travellers on the Pacific has customarily been viewed within the purview of American continental expression and western history while Melville's Pacific writing has been interpreted predominantly within the critical parameters of American studies and literary history. Both these tendencies have neglected the often complex position of American travellers in the Pacific during this era. Looking at the voyage accounts of Benjamin Morrell, Amaso Delano and Charles Wilkes I trace their negotiations with the traditions of scientific voyaging established by earlier European explorers, highlighting their attempts to fashion authorial identities and generic conventions against the backdrop of those traditions. I then read Typee as the product of similar negotiations and offer the figure of the beachcomber as means of interpreting Melville's text and the model of authorship that underpins it. Towards the mid-nineteenth century, as exploration in the Pacific began to give way to more sustained processes of western colonisation, new representational forms emerged to describe those processes. Melville's Omoo is a response to just these developments and my analysis of it is based on an examination of the historical accounts of Hawai'i written by the American missionary Hiram Bingham and James Jackson Jarves. How Melville views the advent of colonisation and acculturation in Tahiti is thus filtered through the frameworks of American romantic historiography and providential history.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available