• The Presence and Use of the Native American and African American Oral Trickster Traditions in Zitkala-Sa's Old Indian Legends and American Indian Stories and Charles Chesnutt's The Conjure Woman

      Karcher, Carolyn L., 1945-; Drake, Jayne; Williams, Roland Leander; Salazar, James B. (Temple University. Libraries, 2014)
      The Presence and Use of the Native American and African American Oral Trickster Traditions in Zitkala-Sa's Old Indian Legends and American Indian Stories and Charles Chesnutt's The Conjure Woman My dissertation examines early Native American and African American oral trickster tales and shows how the pioneering authors Zitkala-Sa (Lakota) and Charles W. Chesnutt (African American) drew on them to provide the basis for a written literature that critiqued the political and social oppression their peoples were experiencing. The dissertation comprises 5 chapters. Chapter 1 defines the meaning and role of the oral trickster figure in Native American and African American folklore. It also explains how my participation in the Native American and African American communities as a long-time storyteller and as a trained academic combine to allow me to discern the hidden messages contained in Native American and African American oral and written trickster literature. Chapter 2 pinpoints what is distinctive about the Native American oral tradition, provides examples of trickster tales, explains their meaning, purpose, and cultural grounding, and discusses the challenges of translating the oral tradition into print. The chapter also includes an analysis of Jane Schoolcraft's short story "Mishosha" (1827). Chapter 3 focuses on Zitkala-Sa's Old Indian Legends (1901) and American Indian Stories (1921). In the legends and stories, Zitkala-Sa is able to preserve much of the mystical, magical, supernatural, and mythical quality of the original oral trickster tradition. She also uses the oral trickster tradition to describe and critique her particular nineteenth-century situation, the larger historical, cultural, and political context of the Sioux Nation, and Native American oppression under the United States government. Chapter 4 examines the African American oral tradition, provides examples of African and African American trickster tales, and explains their meaning, purpose, and cultural grounding. The chapter ends with close readings of the trickster tale elements embedded in William Wells Brown's Clotel; or, The President's Daughter (1853), Harriett Jacobs's Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl (1861), and Martin R. Delany's Blake, or the Huts of America (serialized 1859 - 1862). Chapter 5 shows how Charles Chesnutt's The Conjure Woman rests upon African-derived oral trickster myths, legends, and folklore preserved in enslavement culture. Throughout the Conjure tales, Chesnutt uses the supernatural as a metaphor for enslaved people's resistance, survival skills and methods, and for leveling the ground upon which Blacks and Whites struggled within the confines of the enslavement and post-Reconstruction South. Native American and African American oral and written trickster tales give voice to their authors' concerns about the social and political quality of life for themselves and for members of their communities. My dissertation allows these voices a forum from which to "speak."