American Studies

Sovereign Stories: Aesthetics, Autonomy and Contemporary Native American Writing

Kirwan coverSovereign Stories examines contemporary Native American writers’ engagement with various forms of cultural, political, and artistic sovereignty. The author considers literature’s ability to initiate vital discussions about tribal autonomy in modern America and suggests that innovative literary styles are a compelling articulation of the connection between aesthetic and political concerns. In so doing, he concentrates on fictional and poetic forms, the structure and imagery of which comment on indigenous autonomy, selfdetermination, and artistic activism. Offering original selective analysis of the fiction and poetry of Elizabeth Cook-Lynn, Sherman Alexie, David Treuer, LeAnne Howe, Louise Erdrich, Greg Sarris, and Craig Womack, this book explores these tribal authors’ concern with intellectual and creative sovereignty and deftly links those interests to the broader cultural and political issues faced by Native American communities today.

«In ‘Sovereign Stories’, Padraig Kirwan considers the notion of ‘aesthetic sovereignty’ and wades fully into some of the most controversial and complicated issues in Indigenous literature criticism today. The resulting readings are refreshing, incisive, often contentious, and always impressive. Kirwan’s study is a provocative, well-researched, and carefully considered scholarly contribution to the field, and all the more welcome for its intellectual generosity and fair-mindedness.» (Daniel Heath Justice, Canada Research Chair in Indigenous Literature and Expressive Culture, University of British Columbia)
«‘Sovereign Stories’ takes many turns and pathways—all leading to the story of American Indian tribal sovereignty. It will teach on both sides of the big waters!» (LeAnne Howe, author of Choctalking on Other Realities).

Padraig Kirwan is Lecturer in the Literature of the Americas at Goldsmiths, University of London. He has published articles in NOVEL, Comparative Literature, the Journal of American Studies, and the American Indian Culture and Research Journal, and is co-editor of the volume Affecting Irishness: Negotiating Cultural Identity Within and Beyond the Nation (2009).

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