Week One – Introduction
Concepts derived from Vizenor’s introduction to the Native American Literature anthology:
Native literatures express the experiences of diverse groups of Native peoples. Concepts of “survivance” as an “active presence,” as a descriptor of the active survival demonstrated through Native literatures and textual productions of various kinds. Vizenor writes, “Native American survivance is a sentiment heard in creation stories and the humorous contradictions of tricksters and read in the tragic wisdom of literature; these common sentiments of survivance are more than survival reactions in the face of violence and dominance” (6).
Consider “survivance” as an act of resistance, as demonstrated in texts and Native expressions of various kinds. How are textual records of Native creation/creativity/history acts of “survivance”?
In class, we discussed what kinds of texts and transcriptions constitute “Native literature” as a body of work, or a “canon,” as it were (although we can debate the application of this term). How does “translation” fit into this? What are the politics of translation, particularly as applied to Native literatures?
Vizenor also mentions the crucial role of “context, texture, and the oral nuances of performance” to the study of Native literature. What do you make of this statement?