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Literary Criticism Native American

Why Indigenous Literatures Matter

by (author) Daniel Heath Justice

Publisher
Wilfrid Laurier University Press
Initial publish date
Mar 2018
Category
Native American, Books & Reading, Indigenous Studies
  • Paperback / softback

    ISBN
    9781771121767
    Publish Date
    Mar 2018
    List Price
    $19.99
  • eBook

    ISBN
    9781771121781
    Publish Date
    Mar 2018
    List Price
    $9.99
  • Downloadable audio file

    ISBN
    9781771124928
    Publish Date
    Mar 2021
    List Price
    $24.99

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Description

Part survey of the field of Indigenous literary studies, part cultural history, and part literary polemic, Why Indigenous Literatures Matter asserts the vital significance of literary expression to the political, creative, and intellectual efforts of Indigenous peoples today.

In considering the connections between literature and lived experience, this book contemplates four key questions at the heart of Indigenous kinship traditions: How do we learn to be human? How do we become good relatives? How do we become good ancestors? How do we learn to live together? Blending personal narrative and broader historical and cultural analysis with close readings of key creative and critical texts, Justice argues that Indigenous writers engage with these questions in part to challenge settler-colonial policies and practices that have targeted Indigenous connections to land, history, family, and self. More importantly, Indigenous writers imaginatively engage the many ways that communities and individuals have sought to nurture these relationships and project them into the future.

This provocative volume challenges readers to critically consider and rethink their assumptions about Indigenous literature, history, and politics while never forgetting the emotional connections of our shared humanity and the power of story to effect personal and social change. Written with a generalist reader firmly in mind, but addressing issues of interest to specialists in the field, this book welcomes new audiences to Indigenous literary studies while offering more seasoned readers a renewed appreciation for these transformative literary traditions.

 

About the author

Daniel Heath Justice (Cherokee Nation) is Canada Research Chair in Indigenous Literature and Expressive Culture and Chair of the First Nations Studies Program at the University of British Columbia, unceded Musqueam territory. His previous publications include a study of Cherokee literature, Our Fire Survives the Storm: A Cherokee Literary History, and The Way of Thorn and Thunder series from Kegedonce Press (omnibus edition from the University of New Mexico Press). His most recent publications are Badger, part of the Animal Series from Reaktion Books (UK), and the co-edited Oxford Handbook of Indigenous American Literature. Current works include the literary manifesto, Why Indigenous Literature Matters (forthcoming from Wilfrid Laurier University Press), a study of other-than-human kinship in Indigenous literary expression, and a new dark fantasy trilogy.

Daniel Heath Justice's profile page

Awards

  • Winner, PROSE Awards
  • Short-listed, ACQL Gabrielle Roy Prize for Literary Criticism
  • Winner, NAISA Award Best Subsequent Book

Editorial Reviews

A seminal work of simply outstanding scholarship, Why Indigenous Literatures Matter is as impressively informed and informative as it is thoughtful and thought-provoking.

Midwest Book Review

In Why Indigenous Literatures Matter, Daniel Justice, a writer and scholar from the Cherokee Nation, points out the all-too-common disparity between the stories Indigenous writers tell about ourselves, and the stories others have told about us. ... [Justice is] a bridge builder between cultures.

Literary Review of Canada

[...] this compelling book offers a point of entry into the field of Indigenous literary studies to new readers as well as a better, more expansive, understanding of the field for scholars.

The Canadian Journal of Native Studies 38, No. 2 (2018)

"Justice has created a wonderwork of his own in Why Indigenous Literatures Matter; it is a text that I will read, teach, and share with students, fellow scholars, friends, and relatives because it demonstrates with such clarity and conviction why "Indigenous peoples matter" and why that fact should be celebrated [...]

The Fiddlehead 277

Justice makes strong, well-reasoned arguments that indigenous liberation is essential for indigenous peoples to survive and recover from colonialism ... and offers erudite, passionate analysis of and paths toward discovering new material.

Publishers Weekly

This book simultaneously affirms Indigenous writing, introduces Indigenous readers to the canon of Indigenous writing, and teaches non-Indigenous folks how to read our literatures. That’s impressive, and it’s done in a beautiful, intimate and at times playful way. Why Indigenous Literatures Matter was an honour to read. It is instructional without instructing, grounded, confident, affirming, generous, brilliant, clear and joyful.

Leanne Betasamosake Simpson, author of <i>As We Have Always Done</i> and <i>This Accident of Being Lost</i>

Concise, engaging and readable, Why Indigenous Literatures Matter evokes Indigenous frameworks of relationality at every turn, whether the history of dispossession and removal, or pressing contemporary issues like reconciliation and climate change. Ultimately, this book argues that Indigenous literatures matter because they transform lives. The last chapter, ‘Reading the Ruptures,’ is startling, moving, brilliant storytelling—troubling and transformative tribalography, laced with humour, provocation, and insight. The characters, drawn from real life, are ones I want to travel with.

Lisa Brooks

Daniel Heath Justice’s Why Indigenous Literatures Matter tackles the significant task of illuminating the heart of Indigenous literary engagement, articulating the significance of the literary arts to Indigenous peoples. While politically impactful and theoretically cogent, Justice’s book is simultaneously tender and personal.

While owning his feelings and experiences, Justice comes out swinging against the systems that exacerbate and perpetuate the misrepresentation and erasure of Indigenous stories—but not by positing himself as a pure critical voice above the messiness of mutually complex relationships. Through this fertile approach to his questions, Justice opens up space for collective engagement around the significance of Indigenous literatures to Indigenous peoples.

Aubrey Hanson

The fact that Justice writes on the matter of why Indigenous literatures matter in an analytically clear and intellectually generous, compassionate, and inclusive manner, always making clear how and why they do so to him, might make it easier for readers less familiar with Indigenous writing, history, and culture to consider the significance of Indigenous literatures to them personally, even if the possibility did not occur to them before. The book ends with an appendix that makes a case for the richness of Indigenous literatures in a more encyclopedic fashion and provides an excellent starting point to explore more Native writing. ... In a time where the question about the existence and worth of Indigenous literatures still has not ended, [Why Indigenous Literatures Matter] now stands as the number one recommendation to anyone asking this question.

Transmotion

Other titles by Daniel Heath Justice

The Oxford Handbook of Indigenous American Literature

edited by James H. Cox & Daniel Heath Justice

Masculindians

Conversations about Indigenous Manhood

edited by Sam McKegney
interviewee Joseph Boyden, Tomson Highway, Lee Maracle, Niigaanwewidam James Sinclair, Basil H. Johnston, Daniel David Moses, Louise Bernice Halfe, Taiaiake Alfred, Janice C. Hill, Kim Anderson, Thomas Kimeksun Thrasher, Brendan Hokowhitu, Ty P. Kawika Tengan, Warren Cariou, Alison Calder, Daniel Heath Justice, Adrian Stimson, Terrance Houle, Kateri Akiwenzie-Damm, Richard Van Camp, Joanne Arnott, Neal McLeod & Gregory Scofield
cover design or artwork by Dana Claxton

Love Beyond Body, Space and Time

an Indigenous LGBT Sci-fi Anthology

by (author) Richard Van Camp, Cherie Dimaline, David Alexander Robertson, Daniel Heath Justice, Gwen Benaway, Mari Kurisato, Nathan Adler, Cleo Keahna & Darcie Little Badger
edited by Hope Nicholson
cover design or artwork by Jeffrey Veregge

Way of Thorn and Thunder, The

Volumes 1-3

by (author) Daniel Heath Justice
edited by Kateri Akiwenzie-Damm

Indigenous Men and Masculinities

Legacies, Identities, Regeneration

edited by Robert Alexander Innes & Kim Anderson
interviewee Warren Cariou, Daniel Heath Justice, Gregory Scofield, William Kahalepuna Richards & Thomas Ka’auwai Kaulukukui
contributions by Ty P. Kawika Tengan, Brendan Hokowhitu, Niigaanwewidam James Sinclair, Sam McKegney, Bob Antone, Phillip Borell, Kimberly Minor, Richard Van Camp, Scott L. Morgensen, Robert Henry, Allison Piché, Sasha Sky, Leah Sneider, Erin Sutherland, John Swift, Lisa Tatonetti & Lloyd L. Lee

Sovereign Erotics

A Collection of Two-Spirit Literature

edited by Qwo-Li Driskill, Daniel Heath Justice, Deborah Miranda & Lisa Tatonetti

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