Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Comparative Literature (Interdepartmental Program)

Document Type



This project analyzes eight novels which represent revolt or resistance by varied Native peoples against the European and Euro-American colonization of the Americas. I take a comparative approach to literatures of the Americas because of the dearth of research examining the literatures of both continents side by side, particularly literatures by and about Indigenous Americans. Chapter One introduces the theoretical bases for the project, including colonial and postcolonial theories, Native American literary theories, and aesthetic concerns specific to American Indian literatures. The second chapter is a comparative analysis of Miguel Angel Asturias’s Men of Maize and Leslie Marmon Silko’s Almanac of the Dead. These novels explore revolutions by Indigenous Americans against a colonial superstructure, and both are rooted deeply in Mesoamerican cosmology. The novels’ revolutionary themes and their aesthetic approaches, which draw on both the oral and written traditions of Native American peoples, provide a foundation for my other chapters. This second chapter also demonstrates how Homi Bhabha’s third space operates as a model for the performance of hybridity through the linguistic act of divination. Chapter Three explores the application of Gerald Vizenor’s trickster hermeneutics in three trickster-narrated novels, Vizenor’s own Chancers, Louise Erdrich’s Tracks, and Thomas King’s Green Grass, Running Water. Each of these novels resists hegemonic Euro-American discursive tactics through their trickster narrators; my application of a trickster hermeneutics reveals another manifestation of the third space. Chapter Four is an analysis of James Welch’s Fools Crow, N. Scott Momaday’s House Made of Dawn, and LeAnne Howe’s Shell Shaker. These novels require their readers to participate in the Native spiritualities presented; through a third space, readers from both inside and outside those spiritualities can participate in the visions and ceremonies integral to the protagonists’ transformations. These transformations signify individual resistance to colonizing forces, a resistance that is doubled by the participating reader. Chapter Five, the conclusion, addresses the concerns of American Indian critics who disagree with the application of hybridity theory to Native literatures. I examine the performative and linguistic qualities of Bhabha’s third space to show its relevance for works that represent resistance to colonization in the Americas.



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Committee Chair

John Lowe