Abstracts of Papers
Charles Eastman and Indian American Autobiography
Charles Eastman (1858-1939) claims a prominent position in the genre of Indian American autobiography. He was the first Indian author who tried to write in the self-conscious modern autobiographical tradition, thereby displaying a high degree of acculturation to Western literary traditions. Those Natives still alive at his day Eastman describes as a "fictional copy of the past" and at the same time, to some extent, shapes that very fictional copy in his writings. In my paper, I will present critical readings of his autobiographies "Indian Boyhood" and its follow-up "From The Deep Woods To Civilization," as well as his more spiritual writing "The Soul Of The Indian," focusing on how Indian American autobiography is constituted in the case of Charles Eastman, that is, how his writings were composed in a bicultural context and as a consequence of contact with the white invader-settlers and a limited collaboration with them. My readings will be literary, albeit paying attention to the linguist, anthropologist, and historian dimensions of the texts.