Transoceanic America: Risk, Writing, and Revolution in the Global Pacific

ISBN : 9780198840893

Michelle Burnham
304 ページ
156 x 234 mm
Oxford Studies in American Literary History

Transoceanic America offers a new approach to American literature by emphasizing the material and conceptual interconnectedness of the Atlantic and Pacific worlds. These oceans were tied together economically, textually, and politically, through such genres as maritime travel writing, mathematical and navigational schoolbooks, and the relatively new genre of the novel. Especially during the age of revolutions in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, long-distance transoceanic travel required calculating and managing risk in the interest of profit. The result was the emergence of a newly suspenseful form of narrative that came to characterize capitalist investment, political revolution, and novelistic plot. The calculus of risk that drove this expectationist narrative also concealed violence against vulnerable bodies on ships and shorelines around the world. A transoceanic American literary and cultural history requires new non-linear narratives to tell the story of this global context and to recognize its often forgotten textual archive.


Introduction: Transoceanic America
Part One: Connecting the Pacific and the Atlantic
1 Narrative: Trade and Time in Early Pacific Travel Writing
2 Numbers: Calculation and Speculation in the Eighteenth-Century Novel
3 Politics: Violence and Gender in the Revolutionary Pacific
4 Circles: Seduction and Rebellion in The Travels of Hildebrand Bowman
5 Coils: Global Politics and Economic Futurity in Ormond
6 Cycles: Atlantic Slavery and Pacific Botany in Obi
7 Circuits: Female Bodies and Capitalist Drive in Secret History
Epilogue: Towards a Transoceanic American Literary History


Michelle Burnham is Professor of English at Santa Clara University, where she specializes in early American literature, Native American literature, transoceanic studies, and popular culture. She is the author of Folded Selves: Colonial New England Writing in the World System and Captivity and Sentiment: Cultural Exchange in American Literature, 1682-1861 (both with the Univ. Press of New England). She has edited A Separate Star: Selected Writings of Helen Hunt Jackson (Heyday Press) and the 1767 novel The Female American (Broadview Press). She is currently working on a project that brings together literary history, book history, and digital humanities to recover the transoceanic genre of castaway fiction.