The People and the Text

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The People and the Text is a 5-year research project that links Indigenous and non-Indigenous scholars and students through the production of an online annotated bibliography of Indigenous texts from the beginning of Indigenous literacy in English or in English translation to 1992. The focus will be on material written by Indigenous authors. The date chosen as a cutoff is symbolic – it marks the Columbian quincentenary of European colonization. The project will connect knowledge derived from orature to the understanding of Indigenous interpretive practices. The material included will be from across Canada.

The major objectives of the project are:

  • to reorient English literary studies in Canada by creating a curated blog and a sustainable bibliography of Indigenous texts and related secondary material; organizing forums and workshops to promote work on the growing bibliography; creating a manual on Indigenous research methods and protocols for literary scholars, and a collaborative literary history of Indigenous texts  
  • to challenge literary criticism and literary studies criteria by challenging institutionalized and hierarchical disciplinary ways of knowing as well as past disciplinary ideologies connected to regimes of compulsory monocultural education in residential schools
  • to co-edit an anthology of essays of Indigenous texts

The genres the project will focus on are those that literature scholars now categorize as letters, petitions, journalism, life writing, travel writing, history, ethnography, and political commentary.  The team led by Deanna Reder will commission chapters from appropriate scholars and undertake close readings and historical contextualization of important works. The geographical focus will be on the territory that is now called Canada.

This project is closely connected to bibliography and textbase produced by Margery Fee, Daniel Justice and Deanna Reder –  Paper Speaking: Indigenous Publication in Northern North America from the Beginning to 1992intended to help scholars, teachers, students, and Indigenous community members to find published works of literature, history, ethnography, autobiography and the like by Indigenous authors. You can read more about this bibliography and textbase here.