The Invention of Native American Literature: A New Approach to Dealing with Hostile, Threatening, and Uncivil Behavior



In an original, widely researched, and accessibly written book, Robert Dale Parker helps redefine the study of Native American literature by focusing on issues of gender and literary form. Among the writers Parker highlights are Thomas King, John Joseph Mathews, D'Arcy McNickle, Leslie Marmon Silko, and Ray A. Young Bear, some of whom have previously received little scholarly attention.Parker proposes a new history of Native American literature by reinterpreting its concerns with poetry, orality, and Indian notions of authority. He also addresses representations of Indian masculinity, uncovering Native literature's recurring fascination with restless young men who have nothing to do, or who suspect or feel pressured to believe that they have nothing to do. The Invention of Native American Literature reads Native writing through a wide variety of shifting historical contexts. In its commitment to historicizing Native writing and identity, Parker's work parallels developments in scholarship on other minority literatures and is sure to provoke controversy.

Product Details

Price: $31.95
Publisher: Cornell University Press
Published Date: December 12, 2002
Pages: 264
Dimensions: 6.1 X 0.64 X 9.18 inches | 0.82 pounds
Language: English
Type: Paperback
ISBN: 9780801488047
BISAC Categories:

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About the Author

Robert Dale Parker is Professor of English and American Indian Studies at the University of Illinois. He is the author of Faulkner and the Novelistic Imagination; The Unbeliever: The Poetry of Elizabeth Bishop; and'Absalom, Absalom!': The Questioning of Fictions.


"Criticism at the present time is expected to do many things: to historicize and contextualize, to advocate and demystify, to theorize, to read closely, and to reflect critically on its own premises and positioning. Rarely does one critic do all these things well, and more rarely still do we find them all done well within the covers of the same book. But Robert Parker in The Invention of Native American Literature does all these things superbly, and more: he manages in everything he does to communicate the pleasures, simple and complex, of reading these Native American novels and poems. Pleasure is the rarest quality of all in contemporary criticism, and so the most to be valued. Somebody ought to give this book a prize."

--Brian McHale, The Ohio State University

"Robert Dale Parker places well-known contemporary works by Native American writers within the contexts of earlier novels, tribal histories, ethnographies, local newspapers, and international debates on ethnic literature. His sense of balance is evident in his ability to identify four significant patterns in modern Native American literature while also insisting that these patterns represent evolving issues that should not be used to confine Native American literature."

--Kenneth Roemer, University of Texas, Arlington

"The Invention of Native American Literature seeks to redirect the current theoretical and thematic foci of Native American literary studies away from the essentialist, authoritative directions of the canonical past into a more postmodern understanding of the field and its relationship to international literary studies. It is a compelling, original, meticulously researched, and strikingly honest text, and I would recommend it to anyone working in the field.... Parker's text is also valuable for its emphasis on the works of a diverse range of Native writers, including Great Plains authors John Joseph Matthews and D'Arcy McNickle, as well as Ray A. Young Bear, Leslie Marmon Silko, and Thomas King."

--Lori Burlingame "Great Plains Quarterly "

"This clearly written and informative critique is strongly recommended for all academic and large public libraries and for public libraries with Native American literature collections."

--Library Journal