English Language and Literature ETDs

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The dissertation examines contemporary American Indian literature to see how emerging writers interpret the traditional Indian tribal value, reciprocity. While focusing on Southwestern Indian literature, the study views reciprocity as a Pan-Indian value. Defined as interdependence, the dynamics of the web of life, the 'law' that describes the interworkings of relationships, reciprocity is apparent in the treatment of food, kinship, point of view, marriage, space, advice, and prayer ( the key word of each chapter).

In American Indian culture, the web of life is not a static metaphor, but an actual description of what goes on between woman and man, parent and child, man and man, Indian and white, old and young, person and tribe, person and earth, person and spirit--in sum, Indian and the whole animate cosmos. Reciprocity is the American Indian's way of getting along with others and of experiencing his place in the web. The metaphor of "shared fire," explicit in Chapter 5, is implicit throughout and suggests the tone of reciprocity, but I am depicting an exacting value.

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First Committee Member (Chair)

Patricia Clark Smith

Second Committee Member

Maites Weigle

Third Committee Member

Edith Buchanan



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