Identity and the ethos of survivance in selected novels of Louise Erdrich



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The word “survivance” is a portmanteau of the words “survival” and “defiance.” Gerald Vizenor coined the term for the rhetorical theory he created in the 1970s to encourage the preservation of Native American culture, particularly through literature, while resisting colonial dominance. Contemporary Native American authors often create literature of survivance by reimagining traditional storytelling techniques, incorporating their native languages into their writing, and participating in their unique tribal communities, all of which are entwined with the concept of identity.

This dissertation offers with an explanation of Survivance Theory and its applications. Through this theoretical lens, the following chapters explore Louise Erdrich’s use of storytelling techniques, subversion and subterfuge, and religion in three of her novels: Tracks, Four Souls, and The Last Report on the Miracles at Little No Horse. The final chapter centers on contemporary tribal writers and their responsibility to the Native American community.



Survivance, Erdrich