ESQ: A Journal of the American Renaissance
Michael A. Elliott
"Native American Literature in the Age of Pocahontas"
This article reviews six recent works in Native American literary studies in order to inquire into the appropriate means of engaging the writing of tribal peoples whose traditional forms of statement dramatically differ from those of their colonizers. In attending to these critical works, the essay pays particular attention to the concerns of readers of the nineteenth century, and three of the works reviewed focus upon the American Indian writing of this period. At the same time, because the criticism of more contemporary Indian authors takes up theoretical problems crucial to all teachers and scholars of Native American literature, the essay attempts to bring recent contributions in this area into conversation with nineteenth-century studies. While no single essay can encompass a field as diverse as Native American literary studies has become--the essay concentrates, for instance, exclusively upon the criticism of Indian writing in English--"Native American Literature in the Age of Pocahontas" aims both to introduce those not familiar with the field to the strategies its critics currently employ, and to suggest to those already conversant with it how such an interchange between more and less historically minded scholars can be a profitable one.