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Pioneering the Pacific: Imagining Polynesia in United States literature from 1820 to 1940 (Richard Henry Dana, Herman Melville, Charles Warren Stoddard, Mark Twain, Jack London) [microform]
Bib ID 3284368
Format MicroformMicroform, BookBook
Davis, William Reynolds
Description 289 p. 
ISBN 0493690220

This dissertation explores the imaginative mapping of America's "New Frontiers" in Polynesia (especially Tahiti, the Marquesas, and Hawaii) by U.S. authors in the nineteenth and early-twentieth centuries. Attention is paid to the ways in which these narrative encounters with the 'American Pacific' relate to other historical and literary manifestations of U.S. expansion, most notably across the continental United States under the guise of 'Manifest Destiny' and the 'Frontier Myth'. The primary literary texts to be explored are Richard Henry Dana's Two Years Before the Mast, Herman Melville's Typee, Omoo, and Moby Dick, Charles Warren Stoddard's literature of the South Pacific, Mark Twain's Roughing It and "Our Fellow Savages" lectures, and Jack London's short stories concerning the Pacific.

These authors' sources are also examined: the journals and narratives by earlier European and American explorers and missionaries, including Wallis, Cook, and Bougainville, as well as Captain David Porter, the Reverend Charles Stewart, Hiram Bingham, Captain Charles Wilkes, and James Jackson Jarves. Although the United States' involvement in the Pacific may be seen as part of a continued expansion according to the dictates of 'Manifest Destiny,' there are striking differences between its continental and extra-continental expansions. These differences are underscored in literary conceptions of the landscape, peoples, and cultures of the South Pacific versus those of the western continental United States.

Ineluctably intertwined with these differing visions were the increasingly prevalent voices of anti-imperialism where U.S. expansion into the Pacific was concerned, and the increasingly impaired functionality of the 'Frontier Myth' in explaining and effectively disguising such imperialism. An 1897 article--"Leprosy and Hawaiian Annexation"--contains a remarkable (albeit typical) statement: "Civilization seems to have acted as a blight upon these people [i.e. Hawaiians]; under its withering touch they have dwindled by thousands until they now number less than one-tenth of the original population."1 This dissertation explores why a statement which characterized empire-building as a disease so often accompanied U.S. expansion into the Pacific, and yet was so seldom found alongside earlier U.S. 'Frontiers.'1Morrow, Prince A. MD. "Leprosy and Hawaiian Annexation." North American Review. No. 492. November 1897. 582-90.



Source: Dissertation Abstracts International, Volume: 63-05, Section: A, page: 1832.

Chair: Wendy Martin.

Thesis (Ph.D.)--The Claremont Graduate University, 2002.

Reproduction Microfiche. Ann Arbor, Mich.: University Microfilms International. 
Subjects Literature, American.  |  American Studies.
Other authors/contributors The Claremont Graduate University


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