Nordhoff and Hall’s Mutiny on the Bounty, from the beach Event as iCalendar

20 March 2018

4 - 6pm

Venue: Pat Hanan Room, CLL Building (207-501)

Associate Professor Sylvie Largeaud-Ortega| University of French Polynesia, Tahiti

Inspired by the ground-breaking Pacific Bounty studies of scholars Dening, Edmond, Salmond, Smith and Thomas, this seminar continues to shift focus away from the West, where most Bounty narratives and studies have emerged, to the Pacific, where most of the original events unfolded. It shifts focus from extensively-examined Bounty figures such as Banks and Bligh, and investigates instead the history and culture of the Polynesian Island of Tahiti. It pays attention to the “little people on both sides of the beach” as documented by Dening, from the perspective of “the beach”, Dening’s metaphor for culture contact and conflict in the Pacific Islands.

I’ll first outline the historical Bounty’s narrative, and then explore Nordhoff and Hall’sMutiny on the Bounty (1932), a widely-read historical novel which inspired the scripts of several Bounty Hollywood hits. I’ll look at the way Islanders and Bounty beachcombers are represented by these two American authors who had “crossed the beach” and were based in Tahiti. Referring to the works of Pacific historians and anthropologists, critics in colonial studies and narrative theorists, I’ll approach their Tahitian narrative from an interdisciplinary, cross-cultural perspective, to see to what extent their representation of Tahiti is made from the “strangers”’ side of the beach. I’ll highlight the narrative strategies used to focus mostly on the British little people on the beach, while occluding the Islanders or “exoticising” them through the filter of Western values, and to produce contingent historical fiction and strongly inflected colonial discourse.

Sylvie Largeaud-Ortega is Associate Professor of English literature at the University of French Polynesia, Tahiti. Her M1 seminars bear on Pacific colonial and postcolonial literature. Her publications include Ainsi Soit-Île (Honoré Champion, 2012) and numerous scholarly articles and book chapters on Stevenson’s Pacific fiction, including “Stevenson’s The Ebb-Tide or Virgil’s Aeneid revisited” in Victorian Literature and Culture (Cambridge University Press, 2013) and “Stevenson’s ‘The Bottle Imp’, or the devils of western colonialism” in New Zealand Journal of French Studies (forthcoming). She co-organised the first two Bounty International Festivals in Papeete, Tahiti (2013, 2015), and is the editor of The Bounty from the Beach: Cross-cultural and cross-disciplinary Essays, a collective volume currently revised for publication by the Australian National University Press.

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