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The Political Arrays of American Indian Literary History

2019
Author:

James H. Cox

The Political Arrays of American Indian Literary History

Bringing fresh insight to a century of writing by Native Americans

This book challenges conventional views of the past one hundred years of Native American writing, bringing Native American Renaissance and post-Renaissance writers into conversation with their predecessors. Addressing the political positions such writers have adopted, explored, and debated in their work, James H. Cox sets forth a new method of reading Native literature in a vexingly politicized context.

The Political Arrays of American Indian Literary History challenges conventional views of the past one hundred years of Native American writing, bringing Native American Renaissance and post-Renaissance writers into conversation with their predecessors. Addressing the political positions such writers have adopted, explored, and debated in their work, James H. Cox counters what he considers a “flattening” of the politics of American Indian literary expression and sets forth a new method of reading Native literature in a vexingly politicized context.

Examining both canonical and lesser-known writers, Cox proposes that scholars approach these texts as “political arrays”: confounding but also generative collisions of conservative, moderate, and progressive ideas that together constitute the rich political landscape of American Indian literary history. Reviewing a broad range of genres including journalism, short fiction, drama, screenplays, personal letters, and detective fiction—by Lynn Riggs, Will Rogers, Sherman Alexie, Thomas King, Leslie Marmon Silko, Louise Erdrich, Winona LaDuke, Carole laFavor, and N. Scott Momaday—he demonstrates that Native texts resist efforts to be read as advocating a particular set of politics.

Meticulously researched, The Political Arrays of American Indian Literary History represents a compelling case for reconceptualizing the Native American Renaissance as a literary–historical constellation. By focusing on post-1968 Native writers and texts, argues Cox, critics have often missed how earlier writers were similarly entangled, hopeful, frustrated, contradictory, and unpredictable in their political engagements.

The Political Arrays of American Indian Literary History

James H. Cox is Jane and Roland Blumberg Centennial Professor of English at the University of Texas at Austin. He is author of The Red Land to the South: American Indian Writers and Indigenous Mexico (Minnesota, 2012).

The Political Arrays of American Indian Literary History

Contents

Introduction: Political Arrays

1. Indigenous Editing: Gertrude Bonnin, Lee Harkins, and American Indian Periodicals

2. Transnational Representations: Mexico and the Cherokee Literary Politics of John Milton Oskison and Will Rogers

3. A Good Day to Film: Lynn Riggs, Sherman Alexie, and Independent Indigenous Cinema

4. Academic Networks: John Joseph Mathews and the Politics of Indigenous Correspondence

5. Crimes Against Indigeneity: The Politics of Native American Detective Fiction

Conclusion: Speculative Arrays

Notes

Bibliography

Index