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Antebellum at SeaMaritime Fantasies in Nineteenth-Century America$
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Jason Berger

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780816677061

Published to Minnesota Scholarship Online: August 2015

DOI: 10.5749/minnesota/9780816677061.001.0001

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Melville’s “Porno-Tropics”: Re-Sexuating Pacific Encounters

Melville’s “Porno-Tropics”: Re-Sexuating Pacific Encounters

(p.123) Chapter 4 Melville’s “Porno-Tropics”: Re-Sexuating Pacific Encounters
Antebellum at Sea

Jason Berger

University of Minnesota Press

This chapter presents three narratives of Herman Melville—Typee: A Romance of the South Seas, Omoo: Adventures in the South Seas, and Mardi and a Voyage Thither—to discuss the fantasmatic elements in antebellum maritime narratives that shape the representation of the Polynesian women. Lenore Manderson and Margaret Jolly’s Sites of Desire/Economies of Pleasure: Sexualities in Asia and the Pacific—a collection that reframes male fantasies by focusing on cross-cultural exchanges of sexualities—states that there is a contemporary trend seeking to move past both a delimiting “fatal-impact” thesis of cultural contact and a broader impasse between universalist and relativist views of sexuality. The chapter studies the Lacanian theory of sexuation to explore aspects of Polynesian sexuality.

Keywords:   Porno-Tropics, Polynesian women, Lenore Manderson, Margaret Jolly, Herman Melville, theory of sexuation, fatal impact, antebellum maritime narratives

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