Inventing the American primitive: politics, gender, and the representation of Native American literary traditions, 1789-1936
American 'mainstream' culture has always been fascinated with the notion of the 'primitive', particularly as embodied by Native Americans. In Inventing the American Primitive, Helen Carr illustrates how responses to the existence of Native American traditions have shaped ideas of American identity and American literature. Inventing the American Primitive examines a body of work, both literary and anthropological, that describes, inscribes, translates and transforms Native American myths and poetry. Drawing on post-colonial and feminist theory, as well as ethnography's recent textual turn, Carr reveals the conflicts and ambivalence in these texts. Through their writings, the writers and anthropologists studied were attempting to preserve a culture which their country, with their help or connivance, sought to destroy. The contradictions and tensions of this position run throughout their work. Although there is no simple narrative of progress in this story as it moves from the eighteenth-century primitivism to tweentieth-century modernism, the book shows the process by which the richness and complexity of Native American traditions came to be acknowledged. Inventing the American Primitive offers a radical new reading of American literary history, as well as fresh insights into the powerful pull of primitivism in United States culture, and into the interactions of gender and race ideologies.
Includes bibliographical references (p. 257-277) and index.
- LCC: PS173
- Language: eng
- Physical Description: 286 p. ; 24 cm.
- Edition Info: (Cork)
- American literature -- History and criticism
- Indians in literature
- American literature -- Indian authors -- Appreciation -- United States
- Literature and anthropology -- United States -- History
- National characteristics, American, in literature
- Politics and literature -- United States -- History
- Indians of North America -- Historiography
- Ethnic relations in literature
- Primitivism in literature
- Sex role in literature
- United States -- Civilization -- Indian influences
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