Revisioning Critical Conversations
Paper 348 pp.
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Troubling Tricksters is a collection of theoretical essays, creative pieces, and critical ruminations that provides a re-visioning of trickster criticism in light of recent backlash against it. The complaints of some Indigenous writers, the critique from Indigenous nationalist critics, and the changing of academic fashion have resulted in few new studies on the trickster. For example, The Cambridge Companion to Native American Literature (2005), includes only a brief mention of the trickster, with skeptical commentary. And, in 2007, Anishinaabe scholar Niigonwedom Sinclair (a contributor to this volume) called for a moratorium on studies of the trickster irrelevant to the specific experiences and interests of Indigenous nations.
One of the objectives of this anthology is, then, to encourage scholarship that is mindful of the critic’s responsibility to communities, and to focus discussions on incarnations of tricksters in their particular national contexts. The contribution of Troubling Tricksters, therefore, is twofold: to offer a timely counterbalance to this growing critical lacuna, and to propose new approaches to trickster studies, approaches that have been clearly influenced by the nationalists’ call for cultural and historical specificity.
Deanna Reder, a Cree-Métis scholar, holds a joint appointment as an assistant professor in Simon Fraser University’s First Nations Studies Program and the Department of English. Her main fields of study are Indigenous literary theories and autobiography theory, with a particular focus on Cree and Métis life writing. She recently published on Edward Ahenakew in Studies in Canadian Literature.
Linda M. Morra, an associate professor at Bishop’s University, specializes in Canadian literature and Canadian studies. Her research focuses on women and the publishing industry in Canada.
“Troubling Tricksters is a far-reaching text, promoting an innovative critical approach to the ‘trickster discourse’, and also, because of the presence of essays by Native scholars, constitutes the first step towards a more faithful interpretation of Indigenous literature.”
— Giuseppina Botta, University of Salerno, British Journal of Canadian Studies
“With its impressive lineup of both Indigenous and non-Indigenous scholars and creative writers, this volume demonstrates the fertility of the new, ethically engaged, Indigenous-centric literary critical model.... The colleciton benefits from the presence of creative work by well-known Indigenous writers like King and also Richard Van Camp, whose risqué story ‘Why Ravens Smile to Little Old Ladies As They Walk By’ is included, then carefully analyzed within the classroom setting by Jennifer Kelly. With its discussion of Indigenous literary expression in a wide range of genres, its refreshing variety in discourse, and the intellectual precision of the majority of its contributions, Troubling Tricksters functions as an excellent illustration of the diversity and vitality of Indigenous literary studies as it is taking shape in the twenty-first century.”
— Keavy Martin, University of Alberta, English Studies in Canada
“From the opening question, ‘What’s the Trouble with the Trickster?’ to the concluding imperative, ‘Let’s Be Our Own Tricksters, Eh,’ the essays, interviews, poems, and stories in this collection signal an important new phase of trickster studies: one that is deeply historically and culturally grounded. Deanna Reder and Linda Morra have gathered the nineteen voices of scholars and artists, of storytellers and critics, of tricksters and troublemakers to reinvigorate critical conversations about Nanabush, Coyote, Rigoureau, Wesakecak, Raven, Glooscap, Naapi, and ‘the trickster’. Often with a captivating sense of humour and in highly readable prose, Troubling Tricksters follows the shift from ‘the trickster moment’ of the 1980s to the ethical engagements of contemporary Indigenous theory. This timely intervention should become compulsory reading for anyone interested in literary studies in Canada today.”
— Laura Moss, associate professor, Department of English; associate editor, Canadian Literature; and director, International Canadian Studies Centre, University of British Columbia
“Although the focus of the book is serious, the pieces themselves are lighthearted and engaging, especially the bawdy and irreverent trickster tales (traditional and contemporary). The reader comes away with a sense that the trickster is alive and present, not stored away in an ethnographic tome. This is a significant contribution to the robust field of Canadian indigenous studies and a welcome expansion of Canadian literary studies.... Highly recommended.”
— J. Ruppert, University of Alaska Fairbanks, Choice
“The term ‘trickster’ has done much to illustrate the distinct nature of Indigenous literatures and narrative traditions. This volume examines the historical use of this term but also points out its limitations through the lens of Indigenous thought and philosophy. I will have all of my students read and study this important book.”
— Neal McLeod, Trent University, Indigenous Studies
“The strength of Troubling Tricksters is its grounding in Native literary nationalism, studies that engage not only the literature, but the communities’ ways of knowing and traditions from which the work grew. Many of the essays are situated in tribal-specific ways of knowing.... Clearly, tricksters, in whatever guise, are still a force to be reckoned with.”
— June Scudeler, Canadian Literature