First impressions : reconstructing language and identity in Pauline Johnson's "The Cattle Thief," Jeanette Armstrong's "Indian Woman," and Beth Cuthand's "Post-Oka Kinda Woman"
Power, John Jacques Andrew
Master of Arts
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In this thesis, utilizing the works of contemporary post-colonial critics and authors, I argue that poetry is a medium through which Aboriginal women can reclaim control over the construction of Aboriginal female identities. I also argue that language has played an important role in the history of colonization. Firstly as a venue in which the colonizers could construct a perception of the world in which an ideological subjugation of Indigenous peoples is not only appropriate, but necessary. Second, as a venue in which Indigenous writers can address the disconnectedness of the colonially constructed reality, and, lastly, as a space in which Native writers can reconstruct history, the world, and Aboriginal identity according to their own multi-cultural and individual perspectives. Through close readings of poetry by three Aboriginal women in Canada, I argue that each poet’s active engagement with the socially constructed relationship between signifiers and signifieds allows them to re-codify the English language in ways that accommodate their own multi-cultural and individual perspectives.