Use this URL to cite or link to this record in EThOS: http://ethos.bl.uk/OrderDetails.do?uin=uk.bl.ethos.698095
Title: Fur, fangs and feathers : colonial and counter-colonial portrayals of American Indians in young adult fantasy literature
Author: Nuttall, Alice
ISNI:       0000 0004 5989 4029
Awarding Body: Oxford Brookes University
Current Institution: Oxford Brookes University
Date of Award: 2015
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Abstract:
Although there have been many postcolonial studies of the portrayals of Native American characters in children’s and young adult literature, the majority of these have focused on historical novels, rather than analysing fantasy literature. Additionally, I have found no direct comparisons between texts by Native and non-Native authors, and the impact of authorship on the representations of American Indian characters. I believe that a study of this area of literature is important, as it will serve to examine how the portrayal of Native characters in texts varies depending on the insider or outsider experience of the author. In my thesis, using critical theory around Gothic, gender and queer studies, I analyse three examples of young adult fantasy literature; the Twilight saga by Stephenie Meyer, the Tantalize series by Cynthia Leitich Smith, and the novel Wolf Mark by Joseph Bruchac. In the first chapter, I study the texts’ portrayals of Native American spiritual beliefs, comparing Meyer’s use of Quileute legends to bolster her series’ mythology with Bruchac’s reinterpretation of Abenaki beliefs in Wolf Mark. In the next chapter, I focus on the role of Christianity in the novels, considering historical contexts of missionary movements and colonisation. Chapter Three analyses the novels from a gender studies perspective, considering the racialised representations of masculinity and femininity in the texts, while Chapter Four studies the theme of sexuality in the novels. Finally, in the fifth chapter, I look at postcolonial Gothic space in the novels, and its connections to frontiers and borders, both physical and psychic. ii As a result of my research, I discovered that the Quileute characters in Meyer’s novels correspond with images of Native peoples as ‘savage’ and animalistic, with Native men portrayed as violent and sexually threatening, and Native women as pitiable and subordinate. Her focus on the ‘treaty line’ established by the vampires, and the ‘civilising process’ the main Quileute character Jacob undergoes during his time with the Cullen family, perpetuate colonialist narratives. By contrast, Leitich Smith and Bruchac write against these stereotypes. Bruchac focuses directly on Abenaki characters, writing from an insider perspective that allows him to create a nuanced, non-stereotypical portrayal of a Native protagonist. Although Leitich Smith does not write directly about Native characters or cultures, her representations of gender, sexuality and race correspond with a counter-colonialist perspective. My direct comparison of texts by Native and non-Native authors shows that an author writing from an outsider perspective is far more likely to use stereotypical portrayals of American Indian characters and cultures than an author with an insider perspective of a Native culture. It also indicates that young adult fantasy literature, with its emphasis on the boundaries between childhood and adulthood, can be used as a site for both conservative and radical narratives on colonialism and postcolonialism.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID: uk.bl.ethos.698095  DOI: Not available
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