Wilderness in 19th Century South Seas Literature: An Ecocritical Search for Seascapes

Dillon, Denise (2022) Wilderness in 19th Century South Seas Literature: An Ecocritical Search for Seascapes. eTropic: electronic journal of studies in the tropics, 21 (1). pp. 348-372.

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Abstract

In Western thought and literature, a terrestrial bias is considered a phenomenological primacy for notions such as wilderness. This ecocritical review draws on nineteenth-century South Seas literature with its influences from frontierism and the literary movements of romanticism, realism and naturism to consider a more fluid appreciation and reconceptualisation of wilderness as non-terrestrial and an oceanic touchstone for freedom. American terrestrial frontierism, that drove colonial settlement of the North American continent, is used as both counterpoint and important embarkation point for ventures into the Pacific Ocean following ‘fulfilment’ of the ‘manifest destiny’ to overspread the continent. For American, British and Australian writers, the Pacific represented an opportunity to apply literary techniques to capture new encounters. South Seas works by Melville, Stevenson, Becke and Conrad offer glimpses of seascapes that provide perceptions of heterotopias, archetypes and depictions of dispossessed itinerants at a moral frontier and wilderness that is both sublime and liberating, liminal and phenomenological.

Item ID: 73168
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1448-2940
Keywords: South Seas literature, wilderness, nineteenth century, Pacific Ocean, ecocriticism, seascapes
Copyright Information: Creative Commons CC BY 4.0. This journal provides immediate open access to its content on the principle that making research freely available to the public supports a greater global exchange of knowledge.
Date Deposited: 06 Jun 2022 05:45
FoR Codes: 47 LANGUAGE, COMMUNICATION AND CULTURE > 4705 Literary studies > 470509 Ecocriticism @ 100%
SEO Codes: 13 CULTURE AND SOCIETY > 1302 Communication > 130203 Literature @ 100%
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