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The Homing Place

Indigenous and Settler Literary Legacies of the Atlantic

By Rachel Bryant
Subjects Literary Criticism, Indigenous Studies, Canadian Literature, History
Series Indigenous Studies Hide Details
Hardcover : 9781771122863, 256 pages, October 2017
Ebook (EPUB) : 9781771122894, 256 pages, October 2017
Paperback : 9781771122870, 256 pages, September 2018

Table of contents

Table of Contents

Introduction: Inscriptions of Possession and Place

Cultural Iconoclasm: John Gyles’s Atlantic Canadian Captivity Narrative

Canadian Exceptionalism: Finding Anna Brownell Jameson in the Anglo Atlantic World

Longing across the Line: Cultural Storytelling in the Northeast Borderlands

Making Words Walk: Joséphine Bacon’s Poetic Tshissinuatshitakana

"A wigwam on the hill": Meeting Rita Joe in Native Space

Cartographic Dissonance: Between Geographies in Douglas Glover’s Elle

Conclusion: The Homing Place



Can literary criticism help transform entrenched Settler Canadian understandings of history and place? How are nationalist historiographies, insular regionalisms, established knowledge systems, state borders, and narrow definitions continuing to hinder the transfer of information across epistemological divides in the twenty-first century? What might nation-to-nation literary relations look like?

Through readings of a wide range of northeastern texts – including Puritan captivity narratives, Wabanaki wampum belts, and contemporary Innu poetry – Rachel Bryant explores how colonized and Indigenous environments occupy the same given geographical coordinates even while existing in distinct epistemological worlds. Her analyses call for a vital and unprecedented process of listening to the stories that Indigenous peoples have been telling about this continent for centuries. At the same time, she performs this process herself, creating a model for listening and for incorporating those stories throughout.

This commitment to listening is analogous to homing – the sophisticated skill that turtles, insects, lobsters, birds, and countless other beings use to return to sites of familiarity. Bryant adopts the homing process as a reading strategy that continuously seeks to transcend the distortions and distractions that were intentionally built into Settler Canadian culture across centuries.


  • Joint winner, AUP Book Jacket and Journal Show Selected Entry 2018
  • Short-listed, Atlantic Book Awards for Scholarly Writing 2018
  • Winner, Writers’ Federation of New Brunswick Book Award for Non-Fiction 2017


“Bryant’s excavation of US and Canadian exceptionalisms could not be timelier. She shows how Anglo-Atlantic writing has built a ‘system of self-protection’ that has sought to contain Indigenous geographies and indeed Indigenous agency. At the same time, she shows how First Nations have always effectively written back against this system. This book shines new light on settler colonialism and Indigenous resurgence, historic and contemporary, through sharp analyses of some influential but lesser-discussed writers. It belongs on the shelf of every scholar in Indigenous Studies, Canadian Studies, American Studies, Atlantic and Maritime Studies, Material Culture Studies, Cultural Geography, and Literary Criticism, for it creates fresh new dialogues among all of these fields and interests. ”

- Siobhan Senier, University of New Hampshire

If you are of settler ancestry and are open to the reconciliation process in its truest sense, and if you are willing to learn as part of that process, The Homing Place is a good place to start. ... Rachel Bryant reminds her readers that there is a huge amount of work to do. I'm very glad to have come across this book, the truth within its pages, and the author's dedication to making a positive contribution to the reconciliation process.

- Patty Musgrave, Atlantic Books Today

"If you are interested in Indigenous affairs, the history of how the eastern tribes came to be in such dire straits today, and how literature has reflected these changes – and even attempts to embrace and effect change for the better – then The Homing Place will certainly appeal to you. "

- The Miramichi Reader

The Homing Place enacts and advocates for a paradigm shift in ‘literary relations’ in North America, revealing the ’invisible wall ’ in colonial perceptions that may at first seem as impermeable as the nation-state borders that divide the continent. Yet just as Indigenous people and homelands have always traversed those borders, so may our readings transcend that wall. Rachel Bryant foregrounds and leads us to acknowledge the active ways our embodied minds evade or engage Indigenous contexts and communities, producing greater awareness of the impacts of our activities as readers and writers, Native people and settlers, those who make policy, and those who are most impacted by it. ”

- – Lisa Brooks, Amherst College