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Sexual Encounters: Pacific Texts, Modern Sexualities (Paperback)
  • Sexual Encounters: Pacific Texts, Modern Sexualities (Paperback)
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Sexual Encounters: Pacific Texts, Modern Sexualities (Paperback)

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£22.99
Paperback 192 Pages / Published: 06/05/2003
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European literary, artistic, and anthropological representation has long viewed the Pacific as the site of heterosexual pleasures. The received wisdom of these accounts is based on the idea of female bodies unrestrained by civilization. In a revisionist history of the Pacific zone and some of its preeminent Western imaginists, Lee Wallace suggests that the fantasy of the male body, rather than of the free-loving female, provides the underlying libidinal structure for many of the classic "encounter" narratives from Cook to Melville. The subject of Sexual Encounters is sexual fantasy, particularly male homoerotic fantasy found in the literature and art of South Sea exploration, colonization, and settlement. Working at the boundaries of a number of disciplines such as queer theory, anthropology, postcolonial studies, and history, Wallace engages in subversive readings of eighteenth- and nineteenth-century Pacific voyage journals (Cook in Hawaii and a Russian expedition to the Marquesas), an argument concerning Gauguin's treatment of female figures, and a discussion of homosexuality and Samoan male-to-female transgenderism. These phenomena, Wallace asserts, demonstrate the continuity and dissonance between Western and Pacific sexual categories. She reconstructs Pacific history through the inevitable entanglement of metropolitan and indigenous sexual regimes and ultimately argues for the importance of the Pacific in defining modern sexual categories.

Publisher: Cornell University Press
ISBN: 9780801488320
Number of pages: 192
Weight: 283 g
Dimensions: 229 x 152 x 11 mm


MEDIA REVIEWS

"Focuses on expressions of male homoerotic fantasy in the Western literature and art of South Sea exploration."

* Chronicle of Higher Education *

"In Sexual Encounters: Pacific Texts, Modern Sexualities, Lee Wallace proposes a new understanding of the erotics and ambivalences of encounters between Euro-Americans and Polynesians.... Wallace argues that contact placed at issue not-as he has been widely assumed-degrees of heterosexual freedom, but rather the cultural permutations of male relationships. The book reveals its brilliance at the level of close reading. It proceeds through a series of beguiling exegeses that cumulatively expose some of the blind spots in recent reappraisals of Pacific encounters.... Her approach to the alternately prurient, fascinated or studiously silent documents of early contact is a mode of interstitial analysis, always necessitated in reading archives of encounters between oral and literate cultures, and acquiring an added imperative for Wallace by the absence of explicit referencing of homosexuality in her chosen texts. She theorizes the challenge to speak for her subject skillfully and directly, never resorting to the knee-jerk double-entendre of vulgar Freudianism."

-- Vanessa Smith, University of Sydney * Journal of Polynesian Society *

"Lee Wallace's exceptional book argues an original thesis in language which is consummate, zesty, and witty-even brilliant."

-- Margaret Jolly, Australian National University

"Sexual Encounters bursts with absorbing information about sexuality and the South Pacific.... The overall thesis of the work, however, is absolutely compelling: heterosexist assumptions have blinkered both Western fantasies about Polynesia and critiques of those fantasies."

-- Robert Deam Tobin, Whitman College * H-Net Reviews *

"Sexual Encounters is a well-researched, critically imaginative, and intellectually astute book. I found Wallace's forceful-but thoughtful-engagement with powerful critiques by leading scholars such as Peter Brooks and Marshall Sahlins truly refreshing and thought-provoking."

-- Joseph Bristow, author of Effeminate England: Homoerotic Writing after 1885

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