Prof. Bruce Harvey (

LIT 5934

The South Seas:
In Fiction, Film, and Culture


Fall 2009
Tuesday 6:25-9:05
Biscayne Bay Campus

Office Hours:
AC1 378, 305-919-5254
(home phone: 954-920-8938)
Tuesday: 10:00-11:00, 12:30-1:30, & 5:00-6:00

Thursday: 10:00-11:00 & 12:30-1:30



Cannibals and kings, warriors and missionaries, tattooed bodies, romance in lush tropical locales—the sites and scenes of Polynesia or the South Pacific allure the Western imagination. 

This interdisciplinary course will begin with outsider texts and images and then turn to more insider representations of the South Pacific and the politics of cross-cultural encounter. Our class materials will include discovery literature, novels written by contemporary Hawaiians and New Zealand Maoris, films, essays on South Pacific/Polynesian art, and anthropological interpretations and theory.

I’ll give occasional lectures to fill in historical or cultural context, but as this is a seminar the bulk of class time will be devoted to discussion.  The course has three goals:

--to introduce you to a fascinating area of cross-cultural/multi-cultural study

--to improve your analytical ability to see how texts work rhetorically, aesthetically, and culturally

--to develop your skill and pleasure in communicating ideas, both in class and on paper

After our first meeting, email me saying "I've read the policies, etc."--so that I know you did and so that I will have your preferred email address.  Your email message is also a chance for you to express any initial concerns or questions that you might have about the course. 


1. Greg Dening, Mr Bligh's Bad Language (Cambridge) ISBN-10: 0521467187

2. J-J. Rousseau, Discourse on the Origin of Inequality (Hackett)  ISBN-10: 0872201503
3. Herman Melville, Typee (Houghton, Riverside) ISBN-10: 0618300074

4. Robert Louis Stevenson, South Sea Tales (Oxford Univ. Press) ISBN-10: 0192837001
5. Keri Hulme, The Bone People (Penguin) ISBN-10: 0140089225
6. Lois-Ann Yamanaka, Blu's Hanging (Avon/Bard) ISBN-10: 0380731398  Out of print; I will provide used copies




--Mutiny on the Bounty (Clark Gable)
--Bounty (Mel Gibson)


--Once Were Warriors

--Whale Rider

--Lilo and Stich: scenes

--Blue Hawaii: scenes



Due Date

Grade percent

Assignment: Click Links for Instructions

ASAP or by Sept. 29


1/2 page emailed single-spaced statement of your essay topic

Oct. 13


Annotated Bibliography Instructions

Oct. 27


Essay Draft Instructions

Nov. 3+


Oral Report, about aspect of research topic (inst. below)

Nov. 10


Book Review

Dec. 8


Essay Final version



Class Participation



Class Participation:  Missing class, especially as a graduate student, is poor form: please don't do it.  If you miss more than two days, you will not be able to pass the course. A graduate-level seminar is not simply a more intense 4000-level undergraduate course.  I look upon you as a potential teacher or colleague-in-the-making and thus, although I'm still leading the class, democracy more or less rules.  This means that while typically I will have an agenda, I also want and encourage the class to veer off into other illuminating avenues.  I expect more active and regular participation than in an undergraduate class.  Passivity on your part--always waiting for me to guide you to important passages and points--is inappropriate.  A high degree of intellectual inquisitiveness and resourcefulness is assumed of all students in a graduate seminar.


Book Review:  Present a digest or review of a scholarly book about or related to one or several of our authors or your essay topic: a biography, a work of literary-cultural interpretation, or a theoretical volume.  This should be between one and two single-spaced pages, and written in a format and style kindred to what you would find in an academic journal.  Although short, this should be a showpiece--your very best, impeccable writing.


The review should include a) a summary of the argument/content of the work, b) a critical assessment pointing out strengths and weaknesses. Those can be done in tandem, or a) can go before b). If you were really writing a review, and knew the subject matter well, you'd have also a prefatory paragraph that puts the work in a larger context of kindred works... but I'm not expecting that necessarily. It's good to have a couple of key quotes to exemplify good points or bad points or crucial terminology.  Come by my office to get a journal or two from me, which will have sample reviews. They come in all shapes and sizes, so there's a lot of flexibility... but style has to persuade, too.


Analytical-Research Paper:  You can write on any of the texts we are reading, and you can--if you have an interest and experience--write on any of the films we will be watching. The essay draft should be either the entire draft ½ cooked or ½ of the essay well-cooked.  As early as possible, tell me what you are interested in, so I can help guide you. The essay should be about fifteen pages long or longer, double-spaced.  It must incorporate a decent amount of secondary research: historical-cultural, biographical, and/or critical.  Longer essay guidelines and tips and citation method/bibliographic format will be provided at the link at the top of this syllabus.  Topics may be psychological, literary, historical-cultural, film interpretation, religious studies, political, art historical, or philosophical, etc., according to your interests


Annotated Bibliography:  This will be a 1-2 page single-spaced list of 6-10 significant scholarly works (essays or books) relevant to your research paper.  In a brief paragraph or two, you provide for each an objective summary.


Oral Report:  Oral reports should be about 15 minutes long and no longer; informal but informative; focusing on a key aspect or issue of your research subject (not necessarily what you’re writing on per se, however). Provide some, not lavish, supplementary material: annotated bibliography, photos of artwork, timeline, etc., as relevant to your topic.  You can use notes, but NO READING please.  You may stand in front of the class or sit in your chair … either according to your comfort.

Miscellaneous: There is no final exam. 

:  I am always happy to meet with you during office hours to talk more about the readings or other course matters.  For brief questions or to set up a conference outside of my regular office hours, you may call me at my home number, leave a message on my office phone, or email me.  I almost always return email messages within the same day I receive them, so if you don't get a reply within a day, you should assume I didn't get the original message.


Web Links
(some need updated, you do not
need to print these out, but you should read them before coming to class) 

Prof's Stuff Links
(some need updated, most are intended for the undergraduate version of this course)

Class Readings
(always bring the syllabus and current text/reading to class; please check the online syllabus once a week or so for notes in red to the class)

Class 1
Aug. 25




ntroduction: montage lecture
Film: "The Mutiny on the Bounty" (Laughton production)

Class 2
Sept. 1 



No class—reading ahead week and conferences during class period to discuss essay topics

FIU’s server will not accept large files, so I will need to email you the Cook files, 5 files of 2mb.  I will print out copies and put them in your mailboxes at BBC (and ship to UPark for those down there) Tuesday Sept. 1.  Please email me with your address, though, so I can send direct via email if possible.

Class 3
Sept. 8


Wiki on Polynesia

Captain Cook

Cook paintings

Bounty 1935 film


Study passages & questions for Dening

Film: “Bounty” continued + Mel Gibson version scenes

Explorations of James Cook (20 page handout, in your mailbox or emailed at your request)

FIU’s server will not accept large files, so I will need to email you the Cook files, 5 files of 2mb.  I will print out copies and put them in your mailboxes at BBC (and ship to UPark for those down there) Tuesday Sept. 1.  Please email me with your address, though, so I can send direct via email if possible.


Dening, Mr Bligh's Bad Language (159-73, 19-28, 35-87, 189-222, 253-62, & 346-67)


The historical context/details for the readings and films will come into clarity bit by bit. The handout for James Cook has modern interrupting editorial summaries marked by an icon, which will initially be confusing.  Also, after Cook dies, one of his sub-commanders provides a journal continuation.

Class 4
Sept. 15

Anthro/Noble Savage/Rousseau (opening page only)

Noble Savage (Wiki article)

Omai/Cook Exhibit

Rousseau review sheet



Rousseau, Discourse on Inequality (Intro. v-xviii, Part One 16-44 & Part Two 44-71)

Film:  Gibson "Bounty" continued if time


Class 5
Sept. 22


Melville Biography--just read 1st several paragraphs

Typee study guide

Melville, Typee (you can skim chapters 19-26 and 28-29)

Secondary materials from Riverside edition (Sanborn Intro.,
Chappell, Parker, and Calder)

Class 6
Sept. 29

Research/Essay Topic Due

Murnau Site

Murnau's "Tabu"

Gauguin paintings





Film: "Tabu"  

Gauguin Tahitian paintings (slide show in class)

cut Excerpts from Gauguin’s Noa Noa   (handout or pdf email)

Excerpts from Lee Wallace, “Gauguin’s M.Tupapau and Sodomitcal Invitation” (handout or pdf email)


Class 7
Oct. 6

Class—I’ve re-arranged the schedule so you can concentrate on developing your paper topic and researching it.  Tonight, we will do some sort of workshopping on your topics, review research methods (and perhaps a bit of theory), and, time allowing, have some individual conferences.

I.e. There is no assignment for tonight’s class.

Next week we’ll read the Stevenson story (which follows logically from Melville and Gauguin), and then the following week turn to Polynesian art and etc.

If you are uncertain about your topic, you should read Stevenson now, as it lends itself to “good” paper topics.

Class 8
Oct. 13

Annotated Biblio. Due via email

Falsea illus




Stevenson, South Sea Tales: Editor's intro. ix-xiii & "The Beach of Falsea" 

 We will also work on developing your papers in progress—library researching tips, discussion of individual topics, etc. (time allowing).

Class 9
Oct. 20


Music & Dance

Review sheet for Sahlins reading

Lecture & review sheet for South Pacific art…. Plus images



Sahlins, How Natives Think  (xerox excerpt)


Thomas, Oceanic Art (xerox excerpt handout)

Thomas, "Art of the Body" essay in our Typee edition (which comes from the full Thomas's Oceanic Art volume above)


Class 10
Oct. 27

Essay Draft Due via email

Maori war culture

Review of "Once” (link fixed)"

 Prof. history of Maori


Film: excerpts from Utu
Film: Once Were Warriors

Class 11
Nov. 3

Oral Reports

 Maori  myths in "Bone"

A discussion template for Bone P.

Hulme, The Bone People: Prologue & first half

Select dates for Oral Reports over next 4 weeks

Class 12
Nov. 10


Book Review Due via email



Hulme 2nd half

Film: The Whale Ride

Class 13
Nov. 17

Oral Reports

Hawaiian Statehood (skim quickly)


A discussion template for Blu’s H

Yamanaka, Blu's Hanging

Oral Reports

Class 14
Nov. 24

Oral Reports




Film: Blue Hawaii
Film: Lilo and Stich


Oral Reports 

Class 15
Dec. 1

Oral Reports

Debate on “Oceania” future


Oral Reports 


Contemporary Hawaiian poetry (handout to be given in class for today)
IZ (contemporary Hawaiian folksinger; I'll play songs in class)

Contemporary kitsch artifacts/documents

Finals Week
(no class)

Final Version of Essay Due
Dec. 8 via email