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Red Feminist Literary Analysis: Reading Violence and Criminality in Contemporary Native Women's Writing


This dissertation argues for the development of a red feminist literary analysis in the context of recent calls for a more ethical literary criticism in Native Studies and the more recent articulations of Indigenous feminisms. As a contribution to the field of Native literary analysis, it seeks to intervene in the gaps of literary nationalist approaches by reading the works of Zitkala-Sa, Janet Campbell Hale and Linda Hogan from a red feminist perspective which makes central considerations of gender. Using contemporary Indigenous feminist theory and history as the foundation of such a literary approach, this dissertation asserts that these texts offer important insight into the ways in which Native women's experience under colonialism has been shaped by gender oppression and colonial violence. In particular, this dissertation focuses on these Native women writers' gendered critiques of sexual violence and criminality as the organizing themes through which these works describe, and also attempt to unravel, the ideologies which normalize such conditions. Beginning with the early twentieth century non-fiction writing of Zitkala-Sa, followed by the short fiction of Janet Campbell Hale set during termination and the Red Power era, and ending with the contemporary fiction of Linda Hogan which evades specificities of time and nation, it also makes the historical claim that such feminist considerations of gender oppression and gender justice are not a "recent" focus for Native women who have theorized the conditions of colonialism or the politics of decolonization throughout contemporary literary practice.

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