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The Queerness of Native American Literature

The Queerness of Native American Literature

Lisa Tatonetti
Copyright Date: 2014
Pages: 296
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  • Book Info
    The Queerness of Native American Literature
    Book Description:

    With a new and more inclusive perspective for the growing field of queer Native studies, Lisa Tatonetti provides a genealogy of queer Native writing after Stonewall. Looking across a broad range of literature, Tatonetti offers the first overview and guide to queer Native literature from its rise in the 1970s to the present day.

    InThe Queerness of Native American Literature, Tatonetti recovers ties between two simultaneous renaissances of the late twentieth century: queer literature and Native American literature. She foregrounds how Indigeneity intervenes within and against dominant interpretations of queer genders and sexualities, recovering unfamiliar texts from the 1970s while presenting fresh, cogent readings of well-known works. In juxtaposing the work of Native authors-including the longtime writer-activist Paula Gunn Allen, the first contemporary queer Native writer Maurice Kenny, the poet Janice Gould, the novelist Louise Erdrich, and the filmmakers Sherman Alexie, Thomas Bezucha, and Jorge Manuel Manzano-with the work of queer studies scholars, Tatonetti proposes resourceful interventions in foundational concepts in queer studies while also charting new directions for queer Native studies.

    Throughout, she argues that queerness has been central to Native American literature for decades, showing how queer Native literature and Two-Spirit critiques challenge understandings of both Indigeneity and sexuality.

    eISBN: 978-1-4529-4326-8
    Subjects: Sociology, Language & Literature

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. INTRODUCTION: Two-Spirit Histories
    (pp. ix-xxii)

    The queerness of native american literatureis meant to function as both literary map and critical lens. On one hand, its analyses work to expand the archive, while on another, they endeavor to provide new ways of seeing. At its center, this study hinges on links among queerness, Indigeneity, and relationship, whether such affiliations are acknowledged or ignored, (re)claimed or disavowed. Across the course of my investigation, such associations first undergird the construction of a genealogical narrative of a field, showing it to be a map of relationship(s), and then help recover long-forgotten ties between two simultaneous literary renaissances in...

  4. CHAPTER 1 A Genealogy of Queer Native Literatures
    (pp. 1-27)

    This chapter steps into a vibrant, ongoing conversation about queer images and texts in Native American and Aboriginal literatures. In some ways, we can read this conversation as having been ongoing since time immemorial—perhaps picking up from the drawings of multiply gendered kachina figures holding both a bow and corn in the Petroglyph National Monument on the outskirts of Albuquerque, New Mexico; from the first time the Diné told the story of Turquoise Boy; from the interview with Osh-Tisch, a Crow boté in 1919; or from the stories of Hastíín Klah, a well-known Navajo nàdleehí, or the Brown Weasel...

  5. CHAPTER 2 The Native 1970s: Maurice Kenny and Fag Rag
    (pp. 28-66)

    In the summer of 2009, I sat at a painfully ancient microfilm machine, whirring through rolls of film, searching for traces of twentieth-century Native literary history in what, at first glance, might appear to be unlikely collections. The microfilm room was located directly in the path of the college library tour, and the well-rehearsed patter of university tour guides signaled that incoming students and their parents were about to stand immediately behind me. Whenever this happened, I squirmed a bit. My discomfort arose not from the 1930s library-issue wooden chair but instead from the fact that, when the whirring stopped...

  6. CHAPTER 3 Queer Relationships and Two-Spirit Characters in Louise Erdrich’s Novels
    (pp. 67-118)

    The first two chapters expanded the canon of Native literature and Two-Spirit studies by undertaking, respectively, a broad and a specific recovery of queer Native literature and history. The queer Indigenous genealogy of chapter 1 argues for narrative of affiliation by reading across the body of queer Indigenous literature in the United States and Canada. Chapter 2 narrows that focus through an archival recovery that functions as a re-membering of the 1970s. Chapter 3 continues the process of recovery, recognition, and reconnection by turning to the work of one of the most renowned authors in American Indian literature, Louise Erdrich....

  7. CHAPTER 4 Forced to Choose: Queer Indigeneity in Film
    (pp. 119-143)

    In this chapter’s epigraph, Paula Gunn Allen suggests that definitions—or, more specifically, the circulation of particular forms of imagistic discourse—matter to Indigenous people and, I would add, to Indigenous studies. This chapter begins, then, with a question that follows her contention—if prominent writers like Allen, Maurice Kenny, and Louise Erdrich have crafted images of Two-Spirit/lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, transsexual, intersex, and queer (LGBTIQ2) Native people for academic and reading publics, what images have been used to depict queer Native people in the media most accessible to the general public—contemporary narrative film? I turn from literature to...

  8. CHAPTER 5 Indigenous Assemblage and Queer Diasporas in the Work of Janice Gould
    (pp. 144-173)

    Together, the Introduction and the first four chapters ofThe Queerness of Native American Literatureundertake multiple forms of recovery—the genealogical, the archival, and the thematic—and orward an expansive map of relationship(s). Chapter 5 furthers this story of recovery and relationship by looking across the work of Janice Gould, an important but understudied writer. At the same time, the final chapter extends the scope of this study by considering how queer Native literature speaks to Leslie McCall’s contention that “different methodologies produce different kinds of substantive knowledge.”¹ This chapter reads across Gould’s three poetry collections—Beneath My Heart,...

  9. CONCLUSION: Two-Spirit Futures
    (pp. 174-182)

    This study began by looking at moments that attempt—but never quite manage—to sever queerness from Indigeneity, arguing that when we examine queer Native literature and theory more closely, we find a map of complex relationship(s). That argument moves and develops across the book and appears, in some form, in every chapter. The first relationshipThe Queerness of Native American Literaturemaps, then, is that between the inception of American Indian literary studies as a distinct discipline and the inception of queer Native literature and theory as a distinct body of work. Using Paula Gunn Allen’s foundational writing across...

  10. Acknowledgments
    (pp. 183-186)
  11. Notes
    (pp. 187-224)
  12. Bibliography
    (pp. 225-256)
  13. Index
    (pp. 257-278)
  14. Back Matter
    (pp. 279-279)