Redefining the Literary Indian
The introduction argues for recognition of specific Native American aesthetic and literary cultures prior to European arrival and highlights their ongoing influence and significance during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. During a period of American literary development known for white appropriation of Native American content, Native resistance to Euro-American settler colonialism involved aesthetic practices such as narrative mapping, visual art, storytelling, figurative representation, and adornment. These practices contributed to both Native and non-Native literary production, despite Euro-American authors’ assertions that sophisticated artistic traditions were a European import to the North American continent. Bringing the concepts “literary,” “aesthetic” and “representation” to bear on analysis of cross-cultural encounter, the introduction posits new modes of understanding points of connection or distance between Native and non-Native aesthetic practice.
Keywords: Smith, John, Byles, Mather, Jefferson, Thomas, Kellogg, Laura Cornelius, Standing Bear, Luther, Commuck, Thomas, Literary aesthetics, Native American aesthetics, Phenomenological aesthetics, Environmental aesthetics
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