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The Red Land to the South

American Indian Writers and Indigenous Mexico

2012
Author:

James H. Cox

The Red Land to the South

Recovers an entire era as a major period in American Indian writing

The forty years of American Indian literature taken up by James H. Cox—the decades between 1920 and 1960—have been called politically and intellectually moribund. However, Cox identifies a group of American Indian writers who share an interest in the revolutionary potential of the indigenous peoples of Mexico—and whose work demonstrates a surprisingly assertive literary politics in the era.

In this refreshing, much-needed study, James H. Cox crosses colonialist borders to show how mid-twentieth-century indigenous writers from the United States envisioned Mexico and Mexican indigeneity. With an elegantly focused critical eye and a rigorous sense of cultural politics, Cox uncovers a transnational indigenous gaze that cultural and literary critics have often evaded or felt at a loss to understand. The Red Land to the South will provoke a host of conversations about American Indian writing and its desire to understand Indianness in ways at once transnational and local.

Robert Dale Parker, author of Critical Theory: A Reader for Literary and Cultural Studies

The forty years of American Indian literature taken up by James H. Cox—the decades between 1920 and 1960—have been called politically and intellectually moribund. On the contrary, Cox identifies a group of American Indian writers who share an interest in the revolutionary potential of the indigenous peoples of Mexico—and whose work demonstrates a surprisingly assertive literary politics in the era.

By contextualizing this group of American Indian authors in the work of their contemporaries, Cox reveals how the literary history of this period is far more rich and nuanced than is generally acknowledged. The writers he focuses on—Todd Downing (Choctaw), Lynn Riggs (Cherokee), and D’Arcy McNickle (Confederated Salish and Kootenai)—are shown to be on par with writers of the preceding Progressive and the succeeding Red Power and Native American literary renaissance eras.

Arguing that American Indian literary history of this period actually coheres in exciting ways with the literature of the Native American literary renaissance, Cox repudiates the intellectual and political border that has emerged between the two eras.

The Red Land to the South

James H. Cox is associate professor of English and associate director of Native American and Indigenous studies at the University of Texas at Austin. He is the author of Muting White Noise: Native American and European American Novel Traditions.

The Red Land to the South

In this refreshing, much-needed study, James H. Cox crosses colonialist borders to show how mid-twentieth-century indigenous writers from the United States envisioned Mexico and Mexican indigeneity. With an elegantly focused critical eye and a rigorous sense of cultural politics, Cox uncovers a transnational indigenous gaze that cultural and literary critics have often evaded or felt at a loss to understand. The Red Land to the South will provoke a host of conversations about American Indian writing and its desire to understand Indianness in ways at once transnational and local.

Robert Dale Parker, author of Critical Theory: A Reader for Literary and Cultural Studies

Cox offers a groundbreaking study of undernoticed works by North American Indian writers whose themes deal with the indigenous political histories of Mexico... An indispensable addition to Native American Studies.

CHOICE

Cox effectively dispels the myth that mid-twentieth-century American Indian writers were isolated and irrelevant literary predecessors.

Multi-Ethnic Literature of the United States

The Red Land to the South

Contents

Acknowledgments
Introduction: American Indian Literature and Indigenous Mexico

1. Dreadful Armies: Indigenistas and Other Criminals in Todd Downing’s Detective Novels
2. ¡Indian Territory!: Lynn Riggs’ Indigenous Geographies
3. “Mexico Is an Indian Country”: American Indian Diplomacy in Native Nonfiction and Todd Downing’s The Mexican Earth
4. The Red Land of the South: Indigenous Kinship in D’Arcy McNickle’s Runner in the Sun
5. The Return to Mexico: Gerald Vizenor and Leslie Marmon Silko at the Quincentennial
Conclusion: Revolutions before the Renaissance

Notes
Bibliography
Index