The Political Arrays of American Indian Literary History
Bringing fresh insight to a century of writing by Native Americans
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.
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