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The Archaeology of Southern Fiction
How Faulkner, Welty, Lytle, and Gordon reimagined and reconstructed the Native American past in their work.
In this book, Annette Trefzer argues that not only have Native Americans played an active role in the construction of the South’s cultural landscape—despite a history of colonization, dispossession, and removal aimed at rendering them invisible—but that their under-examined presence in southern literature provides a crucial avenue for a post-regional understanding of the American south. William Faulkner, Eudora Welty, Andrew Lytle, and Caroline Gordon created works about the Spanish conquest of the New World, the Cherokee frontier during the Revolution, the expansion into the Mississippi Territory, and the slaveholding societies of the American southeast. They wrote 100 years after the forceful removal of Native Americans from the southeast but consistently returned to the idea of an —Indian frontier,— each articulating a different vision and discourse about Native Americans—wholesome and pure in the vision of some, symptomatic of hybridity and universality for others.
Trefzer contends that these writers engage in a double discourse about the region and nation: fabricating regional identity by invoking the South’s "native" heritage and pointing to issues of national guilt, colonization, westward expansion, and imperialism in a period that saw the U.S. sphere of influence widen dramatically. In both cases, the —Indian— signifies regional and national self-definitions and contributes to the shaping of cultural, racial, and national "others." Trefzer employs the idea of archeology in two senses: quite literally the excavation of artifacts in the South during the New Deal administration of the 1930s (a surfacing of material culture to which each writer responded) and archeology as a method for exploring texts she addresses (literary digs into the textual strata of America’s literature and its cultural history).
The Transformations of Native American Fiction
Selected by Choice magazine as an Outstanding Academic Book for 1999
Since the 1968 publication of N. Scott Momaday's House Made of Dawn, a new generation of Native American storytellers has chosen writing over oral traditions. While their works have found an audience by observing many of the conventions of the mainstream novel, Native American written narrative has emerged as something distinct from the postmodern novel with which it is often compared.
In Dreams of Fiery Stars, Catherine Rainwater examines the novels of writers such as Momaday, Linda Hogan, Leslie Marmon Silko, Gerald Vizenor, and Louise Erdrich and contends that the very act of writing narrative imposes constraints upon these authors that are foreign to Native American tradition. Their works amount to a break with—and a transformation of—American Indian storytelling.
The book focuses on the agenda of social and cultural regeneration encoded in contemporary Native American narrative, and addresses key questions about how these works achieve their overtly stated political and revisionary aims. Rainwater explores the ways in which the writers "create" readers who understand the connection between storytelling and personal and social transformation; considers how contemporary Native American narrative rewrites Western notions of space and time; examines the existence of intertextual connections between Native American works; and looks at the vital role of Native American literature in mainstream society today.
In this study Webster investigates the devices found in Navajo written and oral poetic traditions. He then explores aspects of language such as code-mixing, punning, and ideophony (sound symbolism), often considered marginal in linguistics literature, revealing how they are central to the study of ethnopoetics and a discourse-centered approach to language and culture.
Imprisonment in First Nations Writing
In From the Iron House: Imprisonment in First Nations Writing, Deena Rymhs identifies continuities between the residential school and the prison, offering ways of reading “the carceral”—that is, the different ways that incarceration is constituted and articulated in contemporary Aboriginal literature. Addressing the work of writers like Tomson Highway and Basil Johnston along with that of lesser-known authors writing in prison serials and underground publications, this book emphasizes the literary and political strategies these authors use to resist the containment of their institutions.
The first part of the book considers a diverse sample of writing from prison serials, prisoners’ anthologies, and individual autobiographies, including Stolen Life by Rudy Wiebe and Yvonne Johnson, to show how these works serve as second hearings for their authors—an opportunity to respond to the law’s authority over their personal and public identities while making a plea to a wider audience. The second part looks at residential school narratives and shows how the authors construct identities for themselves in ways that defy the institution’s control. The interactions between these two bodies of writing—residential school accounts and prison narratives—invite recognition of the ways that guilt is colonially constructed and how these authors use their writing to distance themselves from that guilt.
Offering new ways of reading Native writing, From the Iron House is a pioneering study of prison literature in Canada and situates its readings within international criticism of prison writing. Contributing to genre studies and theoretical understandings of life writing, and covering a variety of social topics, this work will be relevant to readers interested in indigenous studies, Canadian cultural studies, postcolonial studies, auto/biography studies, law, and public policy.
Texts and Contexts
This essay collection offers an overview of Vizenor scholarship through close reading of his texts and exploration of the intellectual contexts in which they are situated. Vizenor’s achievements cannot be easily summarized; rather, this book gives due evidence of the complexity of his work and the diverse critical responses to it.
Discourses of Children’s Literature in Canada
The essays in Home Words explore the complexity of the idea of home through various theoretical lenses and groupings of texts. One focus of this collection is the relation between the discourses of nation, which often represent the nation as home, and the discourses of home in children’s literature, which variously picture home as a dwelling, family, town or region, psychological comfort, and a place to start from and return to. These essays consider the myriad ways in which discourses of home underwrite both children’s and national literatures.
Home Words reconfigures the field of Canadian children’s literature as it is usually represented by setting the study of English- and French-language texts side by side, and by paying sustained attention to the diversity of work by Canadian writers for children, including both Aboriginal peoples and racialized Canadians. It builds on the literary histories, bibliographical essays, and biographical criticism that have dominated the scholarship to date and sets out to determine and establish new directions for the study of Canadian children’s literature.
Native American Literary Responses to the Landscape
Taken together, the time periods covered in Listening to the Land span more than a hundred years, from Luther Standing Bear's description of his late-nineteenth-century life on the prairie to Linda Hogan's account of a 1999 Makah hunt of a gray whale. Two-thirds of the writers Schweninger considers, however, are well-known voices from the second half of the twentieth century, including N. Scott Momaday, Louise Erdrich, Vine Deloria Jr., Gerald Vizenor, and Louis Owens.
Few ecocritical studies have focused on indigenous environmental attitudes, in comparison to related work done by historians and anthropologists. Listening to the Land will narrow this gap in the scholarship; moreover, it will add individual Native American perspectives to an understanding of what, to these writers, is a genuine Native American philosophy regarding the land.
Celebrations of a Mohawk Writer
Explores the work of Maurice Kenny, a pivotal figure in American Indian literature from the 1950s to the present. 'This collection explores the broad range of works by Mohawk writer Maurice Kenny (1929–), a pivotal figure in American Indian literature from the 1950s to the present. Born in Cape Vincent, New York and the author of dozens of books of poetry, fiction, and essays, Kenny portrays the unique experience of Native New York and tells its history with poetic figures who live and breathe in the present. Perhaps his best known work is Tekonwatonti/Molly Brant: Poems of War. Kenny’s works have received various accolades and awards. He was recognized by the Wordcraft Circle of Native Writers and Storytellers with the Elder Achievement Award, and two of his collections of poems, Blackrobe and Between Two Rivers, were nominated for the Pulitzer Prize. Kenny has also been honored with the American Book Award for The Mama Poems. His works have been recognized by National Public Radio, and have drawn the attention of famous figures such as Allen Ginsberg, Jerome Rothenberg, and Carolyn Forché. Maurice Kenny: Celebrations of a Mohawk Writer serves as a comprehensive introduction to Kenny’s body of work for readers who may be unfamiliar with his writing. Written by prominent scholars in American Indian literature, the book is divided into two parts: the first is devoted to musings on Kenny’s influence, and the second to traditional critical essays using historical, nationalist, Two Spirit, creative, memoir, and tribal-theoretical approaches.
Native America in the Jewish Imagination
In Members of the Tribe: Native America in the Jewish Imagination, author Rachel Rubinstein examines interventions by Jewish writers into an ongoing American fascination with the “imaginary Indian.” Rubinstein argues that Jewish writers represented and identified with the figure of the American Indian differently than their white counterparts, as they found in this figure a mirror for their own anxieties about tribal and national belonging. Through a series of literary readings, Rubinstein traces a shifting and unstable dynamic of imagined Indian-Jewish kinship that can easily give way to opposition and, especially in the contemporary moment, competition. In the first chapter, “Playing Indian, Becoming American,” Rubinstein explores the Jewish representations of Indians over the nineteenth century, through narratives of encounter and acts of theatricalization. In chapter 2, “Going Native, Becoming Modern,” she examines literary modernism’s fascination with the Indian-poet and a series of Yiddish translations of Indian chants that appeared in the modernist journal Shriftn in the 1920s. In the third chapter, “Red Jews,” Rubinstein considers the work of Jewish writers from the left, including Tillie Olsen, Michael Gold, Nathanael West, John Sanford, and Howard Fast, and in chapter 4, “Henry Roth, Native Son,” Rubinstein focuses on Henry Roth’s complicated appeals to Indianness. The final chapter, “First Nations,” addresses contemporary contestations between Jews and Indians over cultural and territorial sovereignty, in literary and political discourse as well as in museum spaces. As Rubinstein considers how Jews used the figure of the Indian to feel “at home” in the United States, she enriches ongoing discussions about the ways that Jews negotiated their identity in relation to other cultural groups. Students of Jewish studies and literature will enjoy the unique insights in Members of the Tribe.
Transnational Perspectives on Native American Literary Studies
A survey of current critical perspectives on how North American indigenous peoples are viewed and represented transnationally. An indispensable resource for readers, students, and scholars of Native literatures in North America, Native Authenticity offers a clear, comprehensive, and systematic look at the diversity of critical approaches to the idea of "Indian-ness.” Some of the foremost transatlantic scholars of Native Studies in North America and Europe share their insights on this highly-charged aspect of the contemporary theoretical field of Native Studies. The issue of "authenticity" or "Indian-ness" generates a controversial debate in studies of indigenous American literatures. The articulation of Native identity through the prism of Euro-American attempts to confine "Indian" groups to essentialized spaces is resisted by some Native writers, while others recognize a need for essentialist categories as a key strategy in the struggle for social justice and a perpetually renewed sense of Native sovereignty. Pressure from neo-colonial essentializing practices is in conflict with a politics of cultural sovereignty, which demands a notion of "Indian" essence or "authenticity" as a foundation for community values, heritage, and social justice. Contributors participate in a scholarly and pedagogical search for an intellectual paradigm for Native literary studies that is apart from, yet cognizant with, powerful colonial legacies. The complex politics of Polynesian authenticity versus Native indigeneity is engaged by Native Hawaiian writers as they negotiate conflicting demands upon personal and tribal identities. Related to this questioning is the authenticity debate in Canadian First Nations writing, where the claim to authenticity rests upon a claim to historical precedence; also related is the highly contentious claim by some Chicano/a writers to an indigenous heritage as a claim to authority and "American" authenticity. Essays in this volume are focused upon the diverse and sophisticated responses of Native writers and scholars, while offering comparative perspectives on Native Hawaiian, Chicano, and Canadian literatures.