Trim: 6½ x 9¼
978-0-7391-9335-8 • Hardback • April 2015 • $129.00 • (£99.00)
978-1-4985-1514-6 • Paperback • May 2019 • $47.99 • (£37.00)
978-0-7391-9336-5 • eBook • April 2015 • $45.50 • (£35.00)
Sean Brawley is professor and head of the Department of Modern History, Politics, and International Relations at Macquarie University.
Chris Dixon is associate professor in the School of Historical and Philosophical Inquiry at the University of Queensland.
Chapter 1: Beginnings: Defoe, Dampier, and Discovery
Chapter 2: America’s South Seas
Chapter 3: Herman Melville’s Pacific Imaginings
Chapter 4: San Francisco, Art, and Robert Louis Stevenson
Chapter 5: Finding New Guinea
Chapter 6: The Colonial Endeavor and Australia’s South Seas
Chapter 7: The Fair, the Stage, and the Song
Chapter 8: The Great War and the Lost Generation
Chapter 9: A South Seas Education: Platform Speakers, National Geographic, and Margaret Mead
Chapter 10: South Seas Tourism
Chapter 11: Hollywood Encounters the South Seas
Chapter 12: Cinematic Escapes: The South Seas Adventure Film
Chapter 13: HMAV Bounty and the Great Depression
Chapter 14: Pardon My Sarong: The Arrival of Dorothy Lamour
The literature on representation of Pacific Island societies, their cultures, and the history of Western contacts with them is extensive. This scholarship has been produced largely by historians, anthropologists, and scholars of literature and media studies in Western countries and, more recently, by islanders themselves. Brawley (modern history, politics, and international relations, Macquarie Univ., Australia) and Dixon (historical and philosophical inquiry, Univ. of Queensland, Australia) now add to that literature. The volume is very good indeed, offering excellent scholarship and taking up a well-chosen range of work. In addition to Defoe and Lamour, the authors consider Robert Louis Stevenson, Margaret Mead, Herman Melville, the Bounty, and a few less-well-covered topics. This reader always welcomes refreshing volumes—especially those of the quality of this one—that retell, and add to, stories of how English-speaking societies have encountered the Pacific Islands and how these stories have been received and shaped over time. Summing Up: Recommended. Lower-division undergraduates through faculty; general readers.
— Choice Reviews
The South Seas is a rich and deeply satisfying ‘prequel’ to [the authors'] previous work that shifts focus from concerns of the wartime Pacific to the reception history, or rezeptionsgeschichte, of the Pacific region as a geo-imaginary construct in broadly Westernized pre-war cultures…. [T]he strength of The South Seas lies in the ways in which the authors trace clearly for their readers the comprehensive history of Western culture’s sustained interest and commercial consumption of the Pacific region as a discursive and profitable meta-narrative…. Particularly of note is the book’s deft and seamless approach to the different ways in which the Pacific has been appropriated as a malleable motif across a whole platform of media, and across vastly different economic and cultural periods of history…. The South Seas is…essential reading for scholars working in the areas of Pacific Island Studies, cultural and historical studies, Island Studies, and literary, film, and cultural studies. The broad range of its source material, as well the liveliness and cohesion of its chapters, makes The South Seas, on top of its academic merit, a hugely enjoyable read.
— International Journal of Maritime History
[A] rich and detailed text…. The South Seas would be of interest to scholars of film and visual culture as much as historians of the region. For American and Australian readers, Brawley and Dixon expose the longstanding and often under-appreciated impact of the region on the cultural imagination. For Pacific historians, the book serves as a reminder of the deep history of generalised representations of the Pacific – of stereotypes and misconstructions of the sensual and the dangerous South Seas – and ways in which these were powerfully disseminated to ever wider audiences through the expansion of publishing and film. As Brawley and Dixon conclude, the South Seas were and are ‘remarkable for the consistency of ideas sustained across time, place, and the range of cultural production’ – and these are ideas we must often grapple with in discussing the region and its history to wider audiences.
— Australian Historical Studies
Sean Brawley and Chris Dixon draw upon an astonishing array of archival sources and popular genres to track, with unprecedented textual, filmic, and musical detail and scope, those ‘white shadows across the South Seas’ that moved so palpably across the commercial-settler Pacific, above all the modernizing US and Australia Rim between the wars. Such texts say more about Western desires for regeneration or fears of degeneration in these tropics of tropes than about Native Islanders or sites, but The South Seas: A Reception History from Daniel Defoe to Dorothy Lamour provides a necessary, patient, learned introduction to fantasies, stories, myths, affects, legends, back stories, and texts that still need to be unsettled from popular dominion.
— Rob Wilson, University of California at Santa Cruz
Sean Brawley and Chris Dixon bring a new vigor to explaining the peculiar blend of art, argument, artifice and authenticity that underpins the English-speaking world’s love affair with the South Seas.
— Michael Sturma, Murdoch University