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Title:"That Is What I Said to Him": American Women's Narratives About Indians, 1879-1934
Author(s):Senier, Siobhan
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Parker, Robert Dale
Department / Program:English
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):Language, Rhetoric and Composition
Abstract:This dissertation offers the first extended discussion of late-nineteenth and early-twentieth century American women who wrote and told stories about Native Americans. When not ignored altogether, these women--white and indigenous--are usually seen as reinforcing vanishing-race ideologies. I argue, however, that they gesture daringly toward the legitimacy of tribal ways of life and of collective landholding. The three central women in my study--white novelist Helen Hunt Jackson, Paiute orator Sarah Winnemucca, and Clackamas Chinook storyteller Victoria Howard--venture rare and radical critiques of the possessive individualism that has historically underwritten both U.S. Indian policy and conceptions of American national identity. They experiment with and argue for models of cross-cultural and intracultural community; and they generate stunningly diverse narrative strategies to ensure that their storytelling exercises cultural and political power. Chapter 1 outlines the historical background for this so-called "Era of Assimilation," into which I argue women storytellers intervened; additionally, it shows how notions of individualized authorial agency continue to keep transcribed oral narratives out of the American canon. Chapter 2 re-reads Jackson's best-selling romance Ramona (1884), as bucking assimilationist ideology, rather than (as is commonly assumed) as underwriting the passage of the 1884 Dawes (General Allotment) Act. Chapter 3 finds in Winnemucca's performances and texts a striking oscillation among individualistic and communalistic positions--an oscillation that encourages us to read her agency as deeply situated and social. Chapters 4 and 5 seek a way of reading transcribed oral narratives not as "purely" Native nor as anthropologically polluted, but as dialogues between two cultures and voices. They describe the various kinds of production--ethnographic, biographical, critical--that in turn produce "Victoria Howard" as author and that allow her to produce her narratives and self; and they read those narratives' evasions of full cultural disclosure in an effort to circumvent and educate potentially unreliable interlocutors.
Issue Date:1997
Description:276 p.
Thesis (Ph.D.)--University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 1997.
Other Identifier(s):(MiAaPQ)AAI9737247
Date Available in IDEALS:2015-09-25
Date Deposited:1997

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