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Transpacific Imaginations

Transpacific Imaginations

History, Literature, Counterpoetics

Yunte Huang

ISBN 9780674026377

Publication date: 02/28/2008

Transpacific Imaginations is a study of how American literature is enmeshed with the literatures of Asia. The book begins with Western encounters with the Pacific: Yunte Huang reads Moby Dick as a Pacific work, looks at Henry Adams’s not talking about his travels in Japan and the Pacific basin in his autobiography, and compares Mark Twain to Liang Qichao. Huang then turns to Asian American encounters with the Pacific, concentrating on the "Angel Island" poems and on works by Theresa Hak Kyung Cha, Lawson Fusao Inada, and Araki Yasusada.

Huang’s argument that the Pacific forms American literature more than is generally acknowledged is a major contribution to our understanding of literary history. The book is in dialogue with cross-cultural studies of the Pacific and with contemporary innovative poetics. Huang has found a vehicle to join Asians and Westerners at the deepest level, and that vehicle is poetry. Poets can best imagine an ethical ground upon which different people join hands. Huang asks us to contribute to this effort by understanding the poets and writers already in the process of linking diverse peoples.


  • This is a splendid, sharp, and trenchantly coherent study that will make an important intervention into American cultural studies, trans-Pacific Asia studies, and ethnic minority studies in ways that will alter how we now understand global and local dimensions of the American nation and Asia area-based disciplinary formations. Huang writes with disciplinary range and critical lucidity as well as an elegance of theoretical formulation that cannot be denied. Exploring a range of unexpected topics from Captain Ahab’s collections to Angel Island poems to the faux-Hiroshima dossier of Yasusada, Transpacific Imaginations is an outstanding work in all respects.

    —Rob Wilson, author of Reimagining the American Pacific and American Sublime


  • Yunte Huang is Professor of English at the University of California, Santa Barbara, and author of Transpacific Displacement.

Book Details

  • 202 pages
  • 6-1/8 x 9-1/4 inches
  • Harvard University Press