Humor in Contemporary Native North American Literature
In contrast to the popular cliché of the "stoic Indian," humor has always been important in Native North American cultures. Recent Native literature testifies to the centrality of this tradition. Yet literary criticism has so far largely neglected these humorous aspects, instead frequently choosing to concentrate on representations of trauma and cultural disruption, at the risk of reducing Native characters and Native cultures to the position of the tragic victim. This first comprehensive study explores the use of humor in today's Native writing, focusing on a wide variety of texts spanning all genres. It combines concepts from cultural studies and humor studies with approaches by Native thinkers and critics, analyzing the possible effects of humorous forms of representation on the self-image and identity formation of Native individuals and Native cultures. Humor emerges as an indispensable tool for engaging with existing stereotypes: Native writers subvert degrading clichés of "the Indian" from within, reimagining Nativeness in a celebration of laughing survivors, "decolonizing" the minds of both Native and non-native readers, and contributing to a renewal of Native cultural identity. This book will be of interest to scholars and students of Native Studies both literary and cultural. Due to its encompassing approach, it will also provide a point of entry for the wider readership interested in contemporary Native writing. Eva Gruber is assistant professor in the American Studies section of the Department of Literature at the University of Konstanz, Germany.
Subjects: Language & Literature
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