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English teachers McClinton-Temple (King's Coll., Pennsylvania) and Velie (Univ. of Oklahoma; Shakespeare's Repentance Plays: The Search for an Adequate Form), both of whom claim American Indian literature as a specialty, construe the "American Indian" of the title to mean the indigenous peoples inhabiting the lower 48 states, Alaska, and Canada. "Literature," meanwhile, encompasses not only such staples of the oral tradition as songs and tales but also some decidedly non-Native forms of self-expression, e.g., film and theater. Going beyond merely cataloging author names and book titles, the book features 392 signed and cross-referenced A-to-Z articles, many of which delve into varied influences, e.g., "native 'chic'" examines image and stereotype as reflected in the written word. The bulk of the entries are concise, averaging three to five paragraphs in length; the overview essays of tribal literatures, on the other hand, range from two to three pages. The lack of illustrations is offset by three bibliographies made up of a short list of relevant works following each entry, a catalog of the best-known books by major American Indian authors, and a concise roster of secondary sources. The contributors list is a nice touch, although information on some individuals is pretty sketchy.
—Michael F. Bemis