Celebrity Culture and the Myth of Oceania in Britain
Title Details

216 Pages

23.4 x 15.6 cm

7 b/w. Illustrations

Series: Studies in the Eighteenth Century

Imprint: Boydell Press

Celebrity Culture and the Myth of Oceania in Britain

1770-1823

by Ruth Scobie

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  • Contents
  • Reviews
An intriguing case study on how popular images of Oceania, mediated through a developing culture of celebrity, contributed to the formation of British identity both domestically and as a nascent imperial power in the eighteenth century.
At the end of the eighteenth century metropolitan Britain was entranced by stories emanating from the furthest edge of its nascent empire. In the experience of eighteenth-century Britain, Oceania was both a real place, evidencedby the journals of adventurers like Joseph Banks, the voyage books of Captain James Cook and the growing collection of artefacts and curiosities in the British Museum, and a realm of fantasy reflected in theatre, fashion and the new phenomenon of mass print.
In this innovative study Ruth Scobie shows how these multiple images of Oceania were filtered to a wider British public through the gradual emergence of a new idea of fame - commodified, commercial, scandalous - which bore in some respects a striking resemblance to modern celebrity culture and which made figures such as Banks and Cook, Fletcher Christian and his fellow mutineers on Pitcairn Island into public icons. Bringing together literary texts, works of popular culture, visual art and theatrical performance, Scobie argues that the idea of Oceania functioned variously as reflection, ideal and parody both in very local debates over the problemsof contemporary fame and in wider considerations of national identity, race and empire.

RUTH SCOBIE is a Stipendiary Lecturer at Mansfield College, University of Oxford.
Introduction: "See modern fame"
Otaheite and the scandal of celebrity
The immortality of James Cook
Consuming the Bounty mutiny
Botany Bay and the limits of the public sphere
Epilogue: The Unknown Public, and Tahiti as it Was
Bibliography
Index
"For anyone interested in learning more about the reception of Cook's voyages and the rich variety of roles they played in metropolitan culture, this is an intriguing and comprehensive survey of the celebrity culture of the period." COOK'S LOG
"[T]he variety of literary and material examples [Scobie] integrates and the celebrity culture lens through which she contextualizes them are innovative." EUROPEAN ROMANIC REVIEW

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Title Details

216 Pages

2.34 x 1.56 cm

7 b/w. Illustrations

Series: Studies in the Eighteenth Century

Imprint: Boydell Press