The role of travel literature in the production of Paradise
Paper short abstract:
The cosmopolitan literary genre of travel writing translates, mediates and circulates accounts from and of the world. This paper explores travel writers who with continuity produce a notion of the South Seas as ‘Paradise on Earth’.
Paper long abstract:
The cosmopolitan literary genre of travel writing translates, mediates and circulates accounts from and of the world from one local setting to another, and over time. This paper presents a planned study of Western travel writers' persistent and persuasive accounts of life in the South Seas as 'Paradise on Earth'. For 250 years, travel writers have travelled to the South Seas, found it to be 'Paradise' and written home about it. The forthcoming study is both of a genre and a profession in which I seek to understand how the discourse of 'Paradise on Earth' is constructed and also what makes it resilient. The texts analyzed will be in English and cover the genre from early accounts of British explorers through contemporary American and Australian travel literature that cater to a large readership. For comparative insight the more limited Swedish travel literature on the South Seas will also be taken into account. As a particular corpus, travel writing is one of the oldest forms of literature and has in fact been more influential in shaping perceptions of people and places than scholarly ethnographic publications. Contemporary travel literature lump together the thousands of tropical islands scattered in the South Sea and turn them into an idea rather than a geographical location. The project will contribute to a debate on exoticism and domination through textual (mis)representation. The issue at stake is: How does Western travel literature, past and present, produce the resilient notion of the South Seas as 'Paradise on Earth'?
Writing across borders: textual mediation and collaboration in an interconnected world