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this is a mixture of my lazy academic reviews and personal moments as a mama going through academia, and it is all my own opinion, and has absolutely no affiliation with anybody else

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How Should I Read These – Helen Hoy

From the publisher: “Drawing on post-colonial, feminist, post-structuralist and First Nations theory, it explores the problems involved in reading and teaching a variety of works by Native women writers from the perspective of a cultural outsider. In each chapter, Hoy examines a particular author and text in order to address some of the basic theoretical questions of reader location, cultural difference, and cultural appropriation, finally concluding that these Native authors have refused to be confined by identity categories such as ‘woman’ or ‘Native,’ and have themselves provided a critical voice guiding how their texts might be read and taught.” 


This book was written by a non-Indigenous woman for other Non-Indigenous people, a how-to read and understand and place oneself in terms of the literature and the complex histories within. Important, yes, and helpful, yes, but still an odd subject, I find. The title itself is troubling, as placing oneself the “other” when one is … not … ever … seems reaching, and the apologetic tone set throughout in the sharing of personal stories weakens the stance. In trying to find the happy medium between writing critically about Indigenous literature and being aware of one’s own privilege, she sets herself as a non-critical writer but rather someone who is aware that she is writing critically bout a genre of writing in which she is an outsider and is apologizing for it. I don’t know if I’m saying it correctly, but I feel if she went forth without apology and rather just stated the research, she would be more effective.


  • “this book set out to explore the problematics of reading and teaching a variety of prose works by Native women writers in Canada from one particular perspective, my own, that of a specific cultural outsider” (11)
  • “Given the imperviousness of the academy to Native presences and paradigms, then, the position of the non-Native scholar studying Native literature – my position – becomes a fraught and suspect one” (16)
  • “I risk imposing a poststructural master narrative of indeterminacy on the text and obscuring its emotional and political power” (29)

Get the book: How Should I Read These

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