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Contemporary American Indian Literatures & The Oral Tradition

Because American Indian literatures are largely informed by their respective oral storytelling traditions, they may be more difficult to understand or interpret than the more text-based literatures with which most readers are familiar. In order to fully understand American Indian literatures, Brill de Ramírez explains that the reader must become a listener-reader, an active participant in the written stories.

To demonstrate this point, she explores literary works both by established Native writers such as Sherman Alexie, N. Scott Momaday, Leslie Marmon Silko, and Luci Tapahonso and by less-well-known writers such as Anna Lee Walters, Della Frank, Lee Maracle, and Louis Owens. 

Through this innovative approach, Brill de Ramírez shows that literature is not a static text but an interactive and potentially transforming conversation between listener-readers, storyteller-writers, and the story characters as well.