HISTORICAL TRAUMA, SYMBOLIC BOUNDARIES, AND THE (DE)CONSTRUCTION OF IDENTITY IN NATIVE SOUTHERN LITERATURE
Date of Award
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
Committee Chair School
Committee Member 2
Sherita L. Johnson
Committee Member 2 School
Committee Member 3
Committee Member 3 School
Committee Member 4
Committee Member 4 School
The study of Native Southern literature has typically followed previously established canon boundaries, relegating this literature to either the Southern or Native American canons. While authors from Native Southern communities integrate common Southern and Native American tropes, little scholarly attention has been paid to what connects novels from disparate Native Southern tribes. This dissertation intersects historical and literary scholarship, developing a Native Southern aesthetic defined by shared historical traumas and symbolic boundaries. Specifically, I pair complementary novels and compare how they present survivance and incorporate traumas into their characters’ indigeneities. In Chapter II, I pair Linda Hogan’s Power and Diane Glancy’s Flutie, exploring how historical trauma informs the characters’ identities and define the symbolic boundaries. Additionally, I address the way Removal impacts the Native Southern “third space” and limits tribal inclusion and self-determination. In Chapter III, I pair LeAnne Howe’s Shell Shaker and Louis Owens’s Bone Game, addressing post-Removal diasporas and how characters mimic historical coalescence to reconcile fractured and/or confused indigeneities. In Chapter IV, Josephine Humphreys’s Nowhere Else on Earth and Tiya Miles’s The Cherokee Rose provide a hereto overlooked aspect of Native Southern literature: Black/Indian identities. Exploring how authors address Black/Indian identities and relationships rounds out discussions concerning Native Southern historical traumas and symbolic boundaries and acknowledges how Black/Native Southerners use the same traumas and boundaries to construct communities despite Removal and expulsion. In the Coda, I present avenues for further research, examining Wilma Mankiller’s autobiography Mankiller and Jerry Ellis’s creative non-fiction Walking the Trail before applying the aesthetic defined throughout this project to the real-life federal recognition petition filed by the Muscogee Nation of Florida. Ultimately, I conclude that developing a Native Southern aesthetic defined by historical trauma, symbolic boundaries, and survivance through coalescence and self-determination is a decolonizing act that emphasizes Native Southern agency and cultural continuity.
Greer, Justin, "HISTORICAL TRAUMA, SYMBOLIC BOUNDARIES, AND THE (DE)CONSTRUCTION OF IDENTITY IN NATIVE SOUTHERN LITERATURE" (2022). Dissertations. 1999.
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