JOURNAL OF THE EARLY REPUBLIC (Summer 2017) what it says." Or perhaps geologist: "The job of the critic, then, is to demonstrate that texts are less cohesive, coherent, and unified than they seem." Texts are composed of "faults, cracks, rifts, fissures, and fractures."2 If the American past is like a text, we historians have done the same, leaving us with an antagonistic, diagnostic relationship with the American story. But perhaps we might find other things in the past, Joyce suggests: reverence, affection, inspiration, and even knowledge. We Americans still need a story. "It may be that my Navajo, Hopi, Acoman, and O'odham friends are on to something," Joyce writes in his book's conclusion. "They tell me that such stories inhabit another world--a level of consciousness where knowledge and belief, instead of being estranged from one another, merge into a single narrative that enables those who claim and `possess' this story with the power to transcend and persevere" (304). We need, in short, national stories that rise up from the mundane, go beyond the analytical, to make possible the continued existence of the American tribe. That, Joyce believes, is the task now before us. Jo hann N. N eem
Journal of the Early Republic – University of Pennsylvania Press
Published: May 24, 2017
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