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Writing Indian, Native Conversations

John Lloyd Purdy

Publication Year: 2009

Since N. Scott Momaday’s 1969 Pulitzer Prize for House Made of Dawn brought Native American fiction squarely into mainstream culture, the genre has expanded in different ways and in new directions. The result is a Native American–written literature that requires a variety of critical approaches, including a discussion of how this canon differs from the familiar, established canons of American literature. Drawing on personal experience as well as literary scholarship, John Lloyd Purdy brings the traditions of Native American fiction into conversation with ideas about the past, present, and future of Native literatures.
By revisiting some of the classics of the genre and offering critical readings of their distinctive qualities and shades of meaning, Purdy celebrates their dynamic literary qualities. Interwoven with this personal reflection on the last thirty years of work in the genre are interviews with prominent Native American scholars and writers (including Paula Gunn Allen, Simon Ortiz, Gerald Vizenor, Sherman Alexie, and Louis Owens), who offer their own insights about Native literatures and the future of the genre. In this book their voices provide the original, central conversation that leads to readings of specific novels. At once a journey of discovery for readers new to the canon and an intimate, fresh reunion with important novels for those well versed in Native studies, Writing Indian, Native Conversations invites all comers to participate in a communal conversation.

Published by: University of Nebraska Press

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pp. vii-xvii

There is a statement I kept coming across in ethnographies of Native American stories years ago while doing research: "No one ever did this to me before." Often it is the utterance of a monster, sometimes one about to get its comeuppance. It's a simple thing, but the line has...

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1. THE 1970s

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pp. 1-43

The three authors discussed in this chapter—N. Scott Momaday, James Welch, and Leslie Marmon Silko—are prominent in contemporary Native American literatures. Certainly, during the last three decades of the twentieth century they garnered a great deal of critical attention. ...

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2. THE 1980s

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pp. 45-128

The 1980s saw a growing interest in Native literatures. Besides the authors discussed in the first chapter, others who had been equally prominent in Native writers' circles—some for decades—found new readers for their work. It would be difficult to name them all, unfortunately. ...

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3. THE 1990s

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pp. 129-187

In the last decade of the twentieth century the canon and numbers of authors continued to grow. Yet another generation emerged to extend what had been accomplished and to increase Native artists' presence in other genres and media. Filmmakers such as Victor Masayesva in the late...

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4. The New Millennium and Its Origins

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pp. 189-246

Since the 1970s critical studies about Native fiction abound. Most notably to date, Louis Owens's Other Destinies: Understanding the American Indian Novel does a fine job of exploring and discovering the major issues in the fiction written by Natives, and its coverage extends into the 1990s. ...

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pp. 247-251

We come to books down and from a variety of avenues, of backgrounds and experiences. Mine do not replicate yours; however, we do, as humans, often share points of connectivity in the things we have seen and experienced: not always, but often enough that we can each reach...

Source Acknowledgments

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pp. 253-254


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pp. 255-263

Works Cited

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pp. 265-272


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pp. 273-282

E-ISBN-13: 9780803226500
E-ISBN-10: 0803226500

Publication Year: 2009