WHAT IS NATIVE AMERICAN LITERATURE?
ABSTRACT/RESUME The author reviews some trends in literature by and about North American Native people. After noting the importance of language and culture in any corpus of literature, she considers oral traditions and books about Native people written or edited by Euro-Americans. She then reviews a number of works by Native writers. L'auteur revoit quelques paragraphes de litterature au suject des gens qui sont nés Amerique du Nord. Après avoir noté l'importance de la langue et la culture de n'importe quels corps de litérature, elle considère les traditions orales et les livres au sujet de gens autochtones écrits ou édités par les Euro-Americains. Ensuite elle sense un grand nombre d'ouvrages écrits par des indiens.
JOURNAL OF N A T I V E S T U D I E S V, 2(1985): 151-166.
Scholars who study literature, like scientists who study the natural world, classify what they study. Literature is classified into genres, eras, and further into stylistic modes such as Gothic, comic, or Roman a'clef. There is a purpose to this classification that goes beyond organizing one's library. Classification aids the reader by setting up certain expectations and by providing guides for interpretation. Classification requires that the literature be defined and that certain rules be followed. For example, if one picks up a novel, one expects it to contain plot, characters, and setting. Beginning with these simple, essential characteristics of literature, the literary critic embarks on a more complex journey. Critical exposition of a particular piece of literature is like a travel guide of a region. Having covered the terrain previously by studying similar works, the critic can alert the reader to certain nuances and depths of interpretation he might otherwise miss. Such guides can be very useful indeed; however, there are also pitfalls which must be carefully avoided. Just as one chooses a guide who has had experience in...