What's the word, Crow Head?
You knew it had to happen one day. Sorry.
Been thinking about the readings for the cinema course. We need to be grounded in the historical aspect of Indians in the movie, so I've put Kilpatrick's Celluloid Indians on the list and also a couple novels.
Novels? Can't you stop teaching literature for even a movie class?
Well, I could, but one of the things that we are going to discuss is what shapes an American Indian film aesthetic might take. One thing we need to consider in thinking about such an aesthetic is the ways in which Native literary narratives may inform the way a film is made. A novel--or collection--like Sherman Alexie's Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight In Heaven is an excellent example of the sort of non-linear interconnectivity that informs a lot of contemporary Native writing. As it serves as the basis of the Alexie scripted movie Smoke Signals, it gives us an excellent chance to do a little comparison of how the book looks, feels, and works when read with the movie.
Hmmm, I guess I can buy that, but didn't you say a couple of novels?
I did. But we may cut Tom King's Medicine River (both the book and the movie) from our reading list. Students in the class should hold off on buying it until they see how the final syllabus looks--unless they want to read a really good story. In which case, they should go and buy it. It's a good read--at least the half of it I've read is good;-)
Crow Head, Crow Head, Crow Head...
Guilty, but not sheepishly so.
I guess I'll let it slide. Anything else on the reading list? Things you may have read?
I've got a bunch of articles to put on eReserve. Some of it is pretty thick, but we need to think about the ideology of putting things on film--whether in photographs or movies--and how that ideology relates to indigenous peoples in general, and Indians in particular. There's kind of this received notion that photographs "capture" reality, but really it composes it in particular ways for particular purposes.
Ah, like you were talking about the other day.
Exactly. These articles will help us examine those kind of ethnographic and romantic contexts I talked about there, and will also help make the connection of anthropology to U.S. nationalism and how it views, and deals with, Indian peoples.
I see where this is going. Cowboy movies, taming the wilderness, settling the frontier...
That should be "taming" the wilderness and "settling" the frontier. Problematic terms so common and familiar that we forget their origin in white America's myth of itself and its righteous and (self-) ordained need to "liberate" land from Native nations. But otherwise, you're right. Though I want to extend it not just from "taming" Cowboy movies, but also to assimilationist narratives. I mean once U.S. nationalist narratives stop fighting Indians and starts feeling sympathy instead, the narrative shifts to assimilation. Accepting Indians into a mainstream America that Indians don't necessarily want to be part of. Such white bread liberalism destroys difference and is as racially charged as all the old cowboy redskin talk. But we need to learn to recognize it as part of what passes for "multiculturalism" in the world today.
You keep saying things like white bread and white. Do you care to explain yourself?
I will later.
Why not now?