Over the last twenty years, Native American literary studies has taken a sharp political turn. In this book, Matthew Herman provides the historical framework for this shift and examines the key moments in the movement away from cultural analyses toward more politically inflected and motivated perspectives. He highlights such notable cases as the prevailing readings of the popular within Native American writing; the Silko-Erdrich controversy; the ongoing debate over the comparative value of nationalism versus cosmopolitanism within Native American literature and politics; and the status of native nationalism in relation to recent critiques of the nation coming from postmodernism, postcolonialism, and subaltern studies. Herman concludes that the central problematic defining the last two decades of Native American literary studies has involved the emergence in theory of anti-colonial nationalism, its variants, and its contradictions. This study will be a necessary addition for students and scholars of Native American Studies as well as 20th-century literature.
Introduction. 1. "In the Living Margin": Cosmopolitanism, Internationalism, and Native American Literature" 2. Native American Literature at the Political Turn: The Emergence of Literary Nationalism 3. Politics, Style, and the Silko-Erdrich Controversy, Reappraised 4. Sherman Alexie and the Politics of Literary Value 5. From Navajo Silverwork to Iron Maiden: The Changing Status of Culture in Contemporary Native American Literature and Richard Van Camp’s The Lesser Blessed