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Transatlantic Voices

Interpretations of Native North American Literatures

Elvira Pulitano

Publication Year: 2007

Transatlantic Voices is the first collection of critical essays by European scholars on contemporary Native North American literatures. Devoted to the primary genres of Native  literature—fiction, nonfiction, drama, poetry—the essays chart the course of recent theories of Native literature, delineate the crosscurrents in the history of Native literature studies, and probe specific themes of trauma and memory as well as changing mythologies. These essays also incorporate incipient transnational and transcultural methodologies in their approach to Native North American writing.
Blending western critical approaches—from cultural studies to postcolonialism and trauma theory—with indigenous epistemological perspectives, the contributors to Transatlantic Voices advocate “the inescapable hybridity and intermixture of ideas” proposed by Paul Gilroy in his study of black diasporic identity. Native North American writers forcefully suggest that the study of American ethnicities in the twenty-first century can no longer be confined to the borders of the United States. Given the increasing transnational aspect of American studies, a collection such as Transatlantic Voices, presenting scholars from countries as diverse as Germany, France, Bulgaria, Switzerland, Italy, the United Kingdom, and Finland, offers a timely contribution to such border crossing in scholarship and writing. 

Published by: University of Nebraska Press


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pp. vii-viii

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pp. ix-xii

This work would not have been possible without the help, encouragement, and insight of many people, to whom I owe a debt of thanks. Gerald Vizenor offered generous comments and suggestions from the very early stages, and I wish to acknowledge his constant support, willingness to listen to new ideas, and trickster spirit during ...

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pp. xiii-xxxviii

Transatlantic Voices: Interpretations of Native North American Literatures brings together fourteen scholars from Europe. These scholars have contributed original, critical studies of contemporary literature by Native North Americans in the past few years ...

Part One: Theoretical Crossings

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1. “They Have Stories, Don’t They?”: Some Doubts Regarding an Overused Theorem

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pp. 3-23

The notion of story, or narrative (the two terms will be taken to be synonymous for purposes of this argument), is so central in the practice, criticism, and theory of Native American literature that around it gather — or it actively attracts to itself — many of the major issues in that literature. ...

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2. Plotting History: The Function of History in Native North American Literature

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pp. 24-43

Trying to understand the function of History in Native American and Canadian literature is a rather challenging process for Europeans. We live indeed on the continent supposed to have invented “History” as opposed to “Myth,” the continent that furthermore brought History to America and imposed it upon the Natives through the violence of the Conquest, ...

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3. Transculturality and Transdifference: The Case of Native America

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pp. 44-62

For a number of years cultural theory has discussed multiculturality no longer exclusively as a condition of selected nation-states such as Canada and the United States but as a global phenomenon.1 Indigenous peoples have not made it, however, to the center of the debates on multiculturalism, nor do they figure prominently in postcolonial theory ...

Part Two: From Early Fiction to Recent Directions

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4. American Indian Novels of the 1930s: John Josepht Mathews's Sundown and D'Arcy McNickle's Surrounded

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pp. 65-88

John Joseph Mathews’s Sundown and D’Arcy McNickle’s The Surrounded were published in 1934 and 1936, respectively, and were favorably if not widely noticed but — not unlike many other valuable books that appeared during the Depression years — very soon afterward sank into oblivion, to resurface only in the late 1970s, in the wake of the interest aroused ...

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5. Transatlantic Crossings: New Directions in the Contemporary Native American Novel: Brigitte Georgi-Findlay

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pp. 89-108

How much are Native Americans part of the project of American identity? How have Native American novels contributed to it, particularly in the context of recent debates over multiculturalism? Considering the growing popularity of Native American literature in Europe, how far have Europeans become an implied audience? How “American” or “cosmopolitan” ...

Part Three: Trauma, Memory, and Narratives of Healing

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6. Of Time and Trauma: The Possibilities for Narrative in Paula Gunn Allen's The Woman Who Owned the Shadows

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pp. 111-128

In the introduction to her 1998 essay “Contemporary Two-Spirit Identity in the Fiction of Paula Gunn Allen and Beth Brant” Tara Prince-Hughes observes that for Native American writers the “struggle for identity has required writers to engage actively and dispute dominant Western fi ctions of ‘Indianness’ and to express the fragmentation experienced by people of mixed ancestry” ...

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7. “Keep Wide Awake in the Eyes”: Seeing Eyes in Wendy Rose's Poetry

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pp. 129-149

In her most recent collection of poems, Itch Like Crazy, Wendy Rose imagines a fleeting connection over space and time with her European great-great-grandfather: “Andrew MacInnes, You Look West Just at the Moment I Look East” (43–44). This title grasps the ambiguity and ambivalence of the line of vision between Rose and MacInnes, and we are left ...

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8. Anamnesiac Mappings: National Histories and Transnational Healing in Leslie Marmon Silko's Almanac of the Dead

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pp. 150-170

Generating some notable critical hostility upon its publication in 1991,1 Leslie Marmon Silko’s contentious novel Almanac of the Dead has since been hailed as “a radical, stunning manifesto” that offers a graphic, brutal, and highly political analysis of America and the Americas at the turn of the twenty-first century.2 ...

Part Four: Comparative Mythologies, Transatlantic Journeys

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9. Vizenor’s Trickster Theft: Pretexts and Paratexts of Darkness in Saint Louis Bearheart

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pp. 173-187

“When I was seeking some meaning in literature for myself,” Vizenor recalls, “some identity for myself as a writer, I found it easily in the mythic connections” (quoted in Owens, Other Destinies 239). His earlier autobiographical essays, collected in Interior Landscapes: Autobiographical Myths and Metaphors, equate fact with myth and myth ....

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10. “June Walked over It like Water and Came Home": Cross-Cultural Symbolism in Louise Erdrich's Love Medicine and Tracks

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pp. 188-205

The opening section of Love Medicine (1984, rev. 1993) closes with the death of June Kashpaw, “a long-legged Chippewa woman,” on the eve of Easter Sunday: “The snow fell deeper that Easter than it had in forty years, but June walked over it like water and came home” (1, 7). Such overt Christian symbolism has prompted the Native American poet and critic Elizabeth Cook-Lynn (Crow Creek Sioux) ...

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11. Encounters across Time and Space: The Sacred, the Profane, and the Political in Linda Hogan's Power

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pp. 206-224

In 1994, when I was completing a research grant at the University of Arizona, I attended N. Scott Momaday’s classes. I was surprised to learn that he had visited Bulgaria twice during Communism, on invitations from the Bulgarian Union of Writers. We talked about the similarities between Bulgarian and Native peoples’ folk songs and stories, especially about stories ...

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12. Double Translation: James Welch's Heartson of Charging Elk

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pp. 225-248

In a well-known essay William Bevis put forward a theory of Native American literature by juxtaposing Western and Native American plot structures. “American whites,” he observed, “keep leaving home” in search of better opportunities “in a newer land” (581). These (gendered) stories typically portray an individual striving for success, ...

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13. Clowns, Indians, and Poodles: Spectacular Others in Louis Owens's I Hear the Train

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pp. 249-267

When I met Louis Owens in his Parisian hotel lobby some seven or eight years ago, he was on a tour organized by his French publishers, Albin Michel, to promote the French translation of one of his novels. I had been a translator, off and on, for the same publishing house for some time, and, though the translation of The Sharpest Sight, to my great disappointment, ...

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14. Oklahoma International: Jim Barnes, Poetry, and the Sites of Imagination

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pp. 268-288

Issish ibakana, a Choctaw phrase Jim Barnes himself glosses as “mixed-blood from Oklahoma” in his fi ne-grained prose and verse autobiography On Native Ground: Memoirs and Impressions (169), offers a point of departure. For if he has dwelt fondly upon his American family plait of Native, Welsh, and English origins, at the same time, ...


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pp. 289-294


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pp. 295-298

E-ISBN-13: 9780803256453
E-ISBN-10: 0803256450

Page Count: 350
Publication Year: 2007