Native American Writing

1st Edition

A. Robert Lee

Published May 4, 2011
Reference - 1592 Pages
ISBN 9780415588959 - CAT# Y110063

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Co-published by Routledge and Edition Synapse

If white settlers landing in the New World brought with them smallpox, oppression, and Christianity, they also conveyed the cultural practice of writing. Adopters of this technology from within Native America and First Nations Canada began to adapt their own vast resources of spoken tribal literatures to this new mode—novels, stories, poetry, and drama, as well as autobiography. How did this sumptuous oral tradition, creation stories, coyote, and other trickster mythologies, a whole fund of story-telling humour, become scriptural, generating a proliferation of texts whose luminous modern authors include N. Scott Momaday, Leslie Marmon Silko, Gerald Vizenor, Louise Erdrich, James Welch, Luci Tapahonso, Tom King and Beth Brant? More particularly, how have Native American writers understood and addressed fundamental issues such as: tribal identity; the politics of sovereignty and land claims; mixed-blood heritage; memory; and the issue of what Gerald Vizenor has notably called ‘survivance’? How, crucially, have they dealt with modernity? And how to account for their recent literary efflorescence?

As research on and around the literary output of Native Americans flourishes as never before, this new four-volume collection meets the need for an authoritative reference work to help users answer these and other questions, and generally to make sense of the subject’s vast literature and a continuing explosion in research output. Native American Writing is edited by a leading expert in Native and multicultural writing, A. Robert Lee, Professor of American Literature at Nihon University, Tokyo. His eagerly awaited collection is a wide-ranging compendium which brings together hard-to-find original works by Native writers themselves, as well as critical and learned analyses of their creative productions. Volume I opens with a sequence of Native American overviews (‘Momaday to Louis Owen’), followed by the most important critical theory dealing with ideology and custodianship. The volume also considers key notions such as the idea of the spoken inside the written word. Volume II looks first to accounts of Native autobiography, from the Pequot William Apess onwards, and also explores early modern writing, from the Paiute-raised Sarah Winnemucca and Creek poet and satirist, Alex Posey, to the Sioux Luther Standing Bear. Volume III focuses on modern Native fiction. The final volume in the collection addresses Native poetry and drama and First Nations authorship.

Native American Writing includes a comprehensive introduction, newly written by the editor, which places the collected material in its historical and intellectual context, as well as detailed bibliographies, timelines, and lists of tribal groupings. It is an essential work of reference, destined to be especially valued by those with an interest in how indigenous writers have given literary imagination to their history in North America, Canada, and beyond.

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