Date of Award
Master of Arts
To call the reading audience of commercially published American Indian literature complex is an understatement. Unlike "mainstream" American writers, American Indian writers must shuffle between Native culture and Western culture, mediating the content and structure of their texts so that the information is not only comprehensible to non-Native readers, but also so that these novels circumvent exploitation or commodification of Indigenous cultures. In doing so, American Indian writers--within the commercial context--are required to appeal to three different audiences: a local one, a pan-tribal one, and a non-Native one. A specific place to begin looking at how American Indian writers appeal to all three implied audiences rests in specific language choices, particularly the authors' inclusion of Indigenous languages.
In analyzing how Susan Power, Frances Washburn, and Louis Owens use both Indigenous and English languages in their respective novels, The Grass Dancer (1994), Elsie's Business (2006), and The Sharpest Sight (1992), different forms of accommodation for all three implied audiences become clear. While each writer incorporates Indigenous languages in different ways, Power, Washburn, and Owens all convey that Native ways of knowing are not easily translatable for non-Native readers; however, through distinct treatments of Indigenous languages, each writer performs a different level of mediation. As a result, the different levels of mediation uncover the subversive power of language; the linguistic choices of Power, Washburn, and Owens work to both accommodate the three different sets of implied readers while also asserting political implications.
Stoecklein, Mary, "Subversion and reclamation: Indigenous languages in Power, Washburn, and Owens" (2013). Graduate Theses and Dissertations. 13180.