American Indian Literature, Environmental Justice, and Ecocriticism: The Middle Place

Overview


Although much contemporary American Indian literature examines the relationship between humans and the land, most Native authors do not set their work in the "pristine wilderness" celebrated by mainstream nature writers. Instead, they focus on settings such as reservations, open-pit mines, and contested borderlands. Drawing on her own teaching experience among Native Americans and on lessons learned from such recent scenes of confrontation as Chiapas and Black Mesa, Joni Adamson explores why what counts as ...
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Overview


Although much contemporary American Indian literature examines the relationship between humans and the land, most Native authors do not set their work in the "pristine wilderness" celebrated by mainstream nature writers. Instead, they focus on settings such as reservations, open-pit mines, and contested borderlands. Drawing on her own teaching experience among Native Americans and on lessons learned from such recent scenes of confrontation as Chiapas and Black Mesa, Joni Adamson explores why what counts as "nature" is often very different for multicultural writers and activist groups than it is for mainstream environmentalists. This powerful book is one of the first to examine the intersections between literature and the environment from the perspective of the oppressions of race, class, gender, and nature, and the first to review American Indian literature from the standpoint of environmental justice and ecocriticism. By examining such texts as Sherman Alexie's short stories and Leslie Marmon Silko's novel Almanac of the Dead, Adamson contends that these works, in addition to being literary, are examples of ecological criticism that expand Euro-American concepts of nature and place. Adamson shows that when we begin exploring the differences that shape diverse cultural and literary representations of nature, we discover the challenge they present to mainstream American culture, environmentalism, and literature. By comparing the work of Native authors such as Simon Ortiz with that of environmental writers such as Edward Abbey, she reveals opportunities for more multicultural conceptions of nature and the environment. More than a work of literary criticism, this is a book about the search to find ways to understand our cultural and historical differences and similarities in order to arrive at a better agreement of what the human role in nature is and should be. It exposes the blind spots in early ecocriticism and shows the possibilities for building common ground— a middle place— where writers, scholars, teachers, and environmentalists might come together to work for social and environmental change.
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"Adamson challenges complacency throughout her book. . . . a truly innovative study that should be in all academic collections." —Choice"Her persuasive and passionate arguments call her readers to awareness and responsibility." —ISLE"Powerful and immensely readable." —Folklore
Booknews
Examining the relationships between literature and the environment from the perspective of race, class, gender, and nature, Adamson (American literature and folklore, University of Arizona) reviews American Indian literature from the standpoint of environmental justice and eco-criticism. Drawing on her own teaching experience among Native Americans and on lessons learned from confrontations in Chiapas and Black Mesa, she explores the reasons why the idea of "nature" is often very different for multicultural writers and activists than it is for mainstream environmentalists. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780816517923
  • Publisher: University of Arizona Press
  • Publication date: 1/1/2001
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 214
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.60 (d)

Meet the Author


Joni Adamson is Associate Professor of American Literature and Folklore at the south campus of the University of Arizona. Her essays on Native American literature have appeared in Studies in American Indian Literatures and in Reading the Earth: New Directions in the Study of Literature and the Environment.
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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments
Introduction: Entering the Middle Place
1 The Road to San Simon: Toward a Multicultural Ecocriticism 3
2 Abbey's Country: Desert Solitaire and the Trouble with Wilderness 31
3 Simon Ortiz's Fight Back: Environmental Justice, Transformative Ecocriticism, and the Middle Place 51
4 Cultural Critique and Local Pedagogy: A Reading of Louise Erdrich's Tracks 89
5 And the Ground Spoke: Joy Harjo and the Struggle for a Land-Based Language 116
6 A Place to See: Self-Representation and Resistance in Leslie Marmon Silko's Almanac of the Dead 128
7 Reinventing Nature: Leslie Marmon Silko's Critique of Euro-American "Nature Talk" 162
Conclusion: To San Simon and Back 180
Notes 187
Bibliography 199
Index 207
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