photographChristiane Williams: 18th Century South Pacific Travelogues

School of Modern Languages Research Seminar Series 2010/11

Location: Old Library Building, Research Beehive, room 2.20
Time/Date: 21st October 2010, 16:00 - 17:00

Excitable Minds. The Possible Use and Abuse of 18th Century South Pacific Travelogues as Erotic Writings

18th Century travelogues about the newly discovered South Pacific were fundamental for the shaping of Enlightenment geography, biology, geology, astronomy, anthropology and linguistics. They were obvious data sources for scientific treatises and new social theories as well as conversation topics in educated circles. From newspaper reviews, paraphrases, black market copies, poems and imitations we can gather in addition, that a different aspect of the travelogues most aroused (the interest of) the common European reader: the explicit descriptions and depictions of nude, beautiful bodies, erotic dances, sexual liberty, prostitution as hospitality, unimportance of virginity, polygamy and – to a lesser extend – homosexuality and transvestite identities.

This presentation will take a closer look at the – actual and alluded - erotic descriptions in several travelogues of 18th Century English, German and French discoverers from the South Pacific, the metonymical relation between the newly discovered island and the indigenous female and the pornographic implications of their representation as well as the possible function of travelogues as erotic literature for the male bourgeois reader.

Published: 24th September 2010