- From the EditorRevisiting
We complete a volume, 24, and begin a new year, 2013, with four essays that span the North American continent and traverse more than five centuries of Native American representation. Despite their geographic and chronological diversity, these forward-looking essays are linked by a central methodology: each revisits key moments and seminal figures at the intersections of specifically American Indian and broader American literary histories. Indeed, each essay focuses its analysis and develops its argument through processes of return, revision (in the literal sense of seeing again), and reassessment. Their results challenge our scholarship and provoke our teaching in important ways.
Annette Kolodny revisits a Mi’kmaq narrative of first contact with Europeans, published in English translation in 1890, in order to demonstrate how we might better access not only the cultural and historical contexts of transcribed oral traditions, which are essential to their effective use in the classroom, but also their distinctly literary complexity. Yael Ben-zvi then revisits Louise Erdrich’s and Sherman Alexie’s own literary revisits of Mary Rowlandson’s seventeenth-century captivity narrative in order to explore how Rowlandson’s ambiguous and multivalent legacy was repurposed yet again in the 1980s and 1990s, this time toward distinctly Native ends. Next, Rose Gubele revisits key sources of knowledge and speculation about the nineteenth-century Cherokee intellectual Sequoya and the revolutionary syllabary he developed in order to think through the ongoing significance of both the man and his work, not [End Page vii] only for contemporary citizens of the Cherokee Nation but for all of us. And, finally, Ken Roemer revisits some of N. Scott Momaday’s best-known works from the twentieth century and some of his most recent compositions in the twenty-first in order to investigate Momaday’s now five-decade long meditation on the need to continually revise ceremony to meet the challenges of extraordinary times and circumstance.
We hope these four examples of focused revisiting will spur readers toward literary revisits, revisions, and reassessments of their own. [End Page viii]