Maebh Long

Maebh Long is a Senior Lecturer in Literature at the University of Waikato. Alongside research on Pacific literature and modernism her publications include Assembling Flann O’Brien (Bloomsbury, 2014) and The Collected Letters of Flann O’Brien (Dalkey Archive Press, 2018).


Towards an Oceanian Modernism

In an essay on Herman Melville, D. H. Lawrence describes the Pacific Islands as “a vast vacuum, in which, mirage-like, continues the life of myriads of ages back.” Modernist studies has yet to awaken from this dream of Oceania as the hazy antithesis of modernity, a place “not come to any modern consciousness”: although the tide is turning, the Pacific has typically been treated not as an active site of cultural production, but as a tropical backdrop for the adventures of the likes of Gauguin, Stevenson, and Melville (Lawrence, “Herman Melville,” 114). Uncalculated as this scholarly exclusion may be, it cannot but reinforce the sense that modernism and modernity demand an unmodern Other, figuring Pacific peoples in binaries that the new modernist studies has worked to undermine.