The use of the anecdote in the critical study of aboriginal literature
Moore, Robyn Heather
This paper examines the use of the anecdote in critical scholarship as an ethical approach to studying Aboriginal literature. As many scholars are now becoming aware of the damage that has been done to texts by critiquing Aboriginal literature from the position of cultural outsiders, this paper suggests that anecdotal theory proposed by Jane Gallop is an ethical approach to Aboriginal literature. The use of story to generate theory explored by Aboriginal scholars of literature is compared to anecdotal theory, which implies that the use of anecdotes is an ethical approach suggested by Aboriginal culture. Anecdotal theory, the practice of recording a personal anecdote and then “reading” it to generate theory, offers non-Aboriginal scholars as well as Aboriginal scholars a way to connect to the text. Using anecdotal theory helps scholars remain more responsible to the texts they are critiquing; anecdotes make scholars more self-aware and ground them in real experience, due to the anecdote’s embodied nature and use of humour. This paper focuses on Aboriginal texts and scholars from North America. Helen Hoy’s critical work How Should I Read These: Native Women Writers in Canada is analysed for her use of the personal anecdote to examine its effectiveness. While Jane Gallop coins the term “anecdotal theory,” this paper attempts to connect personal anecdote, scholar, and literature in a way that Gallop does not.
DegreeMaster of Arts (M.A.)
Copyright DateDecember 2009