christopher b. teuton A few years ago at the MLA annual convention, I was discussing with a colleague the writers and works I had written about in my dissertation. I mentioned several of the writers and works, and this colleague seemed very approving of my choice of subjects. But when I mentioned the last writer I was analyzing in my study and began to discuss this writer's work, my colleague suddenly interjected, "That hack?" Momentarily dismayed and confused by my colleague's characterization of this writer, I recognized that I was being baited to defend my subject matter and to defend it on aesthetic grounds. That short exchange crystallized for me something I have long known, which is that we in Native literary studies do not have any guidelines for describing what is a "literary" work within the context of our field, nor have we clearly articulated what is aesthetically meaningful within the context of Native literature and how those aesthetics may differ from mainstream notions of Western aesthetics. My colleague's comments were particularly disturbing because the writer he called a hack not only was somebody I knew but also was from my home community. By calling this writer
Studies in American Indian Literatures – University of Nebraska Press
Published: Apr 4, 2008
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