Monday, February 18, 2013
February 18, 2013: AmericanStudiers to Watch, Part One
[One of my ongoing resolutions is to attend more conferences—for lots of reasons, but especially to connect with my fellow scholars. This week, I’ll be briefly highlighting some impressive AmericanStudiers I’ve recently had the chance to meet and see in action, both at November’s American Studies Association conference and at January’s Modern Language Association one. Would love to hear your suggestions for other AmericanStudiers to watch, and will compile the ongoing list for the weekend post!]
On three talented young Native American Studiers and their interdisciplinary and cross-cultural projects.
The first panel I had the chance to attend at the ASA Conference focused on images and narratives of Native Americans, and featured three graduate students who shared portions of their interesting and important dissertation research:
1) AshleyWiersma of Michigan State gave a talk on the construction and development of the Noble Savage myth in both French and Anglo colonial-era discourses. She’s working with some very complex and interesting primary texts, including letters and journals written by missionaries such as Louis Hennepin and Father Buisson de St. Cosme and William Robertson’s History of America (1777). And she’s tying that historical work to the linguistic and philosophical development of concepts such as “civilization.”
2) Marcel Garcia of Yale presented a paper on cultural retention, expression, and adaptation in California’s missions. He focused here specifically on the Ohlone tribe, the Spanish mission in their region, other European vessels who arrived there, and the multiple roles of dance for those communities. His emphasis on the vessels and arrivals was particularly rich, as it complicates any easy division of the community between the Ohlone and the Spanish.
3) Ryan Hall, also of Yale, spoke about popular narratives and stereotypes of the Blackfeet, and specifically the multi-stage development of the concept of the “terrible Blackfeet, scourge of the upper Missouri.” This project connects to numerous interesting early to mid-19th century figures and texts, from Lewis and Clark and Colter’s Run to the Missouri Fur Company and Five Years a Captive among the Blackfeet Indians (1858). He also indicated his contuing work to find and incorporate additional Blackfeet voices, which will add even more layers to this cross-cultural American theme.
Three young AmericanStudiers worth keeping an eye on for sure!
Next scholars tomorrow,
PS. Responses to these projects and scholars? Other AmericanStudiers you’d highlight?