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  • Alex Watson

Pacific Marginality (Invited Talk at EARN)

As the 35th EARN public lecture (National Chengchi University, Tiawan), I will give a talk "Pacific Marginality: Annotation in Anglophone Writing on the Pacific, 1768–1829" on Friday, 6 May, 2022. All are welcome.

Chair: Li-hsin Hsu (English Department, NCCU)

Date: 1.10 pm - 3.00 pm, Friday, 6 May 2022

Venue: Online (For further details, please contact Hsu Li-hsin:


In the late-eighteenth and early nineteenth-century, a number of important writers and travelers created depictions of the Pacific that fused literary and anthropological methods of representation. Such writings are notable for their extensive use of annotation: from the quasi-scientific footnotes German naturalist Georg Forster created for his account of Captain James Cook’s second voyage to the Pacific, A Voyage Round the World (1776/7) to the famous marginal gloss that accompanied Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s 1817 version of “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner”; Lord Byron’s dry, witty annotation to The Island (1823) to Sir William Ellis’ ethnographic notes to Polynesian Researches (1829).

In this talk, I discuss how annotation enabled these writers to construct and project distinctive authorial identities and arbitrate between factual and fictional discourses. The intellectual traffic traversing the margins of these texts mirrored the movements of goods and commodities being transported across the Pacific. By placing indigenous Pacific histories and identities on the periphery of the page, these writers sometimes consolidated and at other times contested the region’s marginalization by Western colonization and economic and cultural domination.

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