Modernism's ventriloquist texts: American poetry, gender, and Indian identity
AdvisorTemple, Judy Nolte
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PublisherThe University of Arizona.
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AbstractThis dissertation analyzes the intersections of modern American poetry, Native American literature, American anthropology, modernist movements in literature and art, and American social and political history between 1890 and 1930. These seemingly disparate phenomena, taken together, constitute a revolution in American literary and cultural history. To connect the subject areas, the initial chapter develops a theoretical framework based upon postmodern, feminist, postcolonial, and cultural studies theories which analyze power relationships among groups. Issues germane to the discussion include: the politics of representation, particularly of marginalized groups such as Native Americans; the marketing of experimental, modernist literature; the translation of texts from oral cultural traditions into printed English; the factor of gender as it relates to dominant culture appropriations of non-dominant-culture texts and materials; and the commodification of the landscape and native cultures of the Western and Southwestern United States. Each of the next three chapters focuses on a non-Indian woman who, in some fashion, placed what came to be known as Indian literary art before the non-Indian reading public: Natalie Curtis, Mary Austin, and Harriet Monroe. While two of these women considered themselves advocates of Indian rights, all contributed, in various ways, to the stereotyping of Indian peoples and cultures prevalent between 1890 and 1930 and continuing today. Each chapter demonstrates a move forward in time and further from the Native American contexts in which the texts originated. Ethnomusicologist Natalie Curtis published The Indians' Book in 1907 and introduced the reading public to a large collection of Indian verbal art. Poet and writer Mary Austin wrote and published "re-expressions" of Indian verbal art and, in 1923, published The American Rhythm, a book which argues that indigenous models offer non-Indian writers the greatest potential for the development of a truly American literature. Editor Harriet Monroe published "Indian-like" poetry in her highly-influential Poetry: A Magazine of Verse, including two "aboriginal" numbers or issues. The final chapter analyzes the work of contemporary poet Wendy Rose (Hopi-Miwok), arguing that Rose effectively speaks back against the damaging influence of non-Indian appropriations of Indian texts.
Degree ProgramGraduate College