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Troubling Tricksters

Revisioning Critical Conversations

Edited by Deanna Reder & Linda M. Morra
Subjects Cultural Studies, Literary Criticism, Indigenous Studies
Series Indigenous Studies Hide Details
Paperback : 9781554581818, 348 pages, February 2010
Ebook (EPUB) : 9781554582907, 348 pages, February 2010
Ebook (PDF) : 9781554582051, 348 pages, February 2010

Table of contents

Table of Contents for Troubling Tricksters: Revisioning Critical Conversations, edited by Deanna Reder and Linda M. Morra
Preface | Deanna Reder
A Preface: Ruminations About Troubling Tricksters | Linda Morra
Looking Back to the “Trickster Moment”
What’s the Trouble with the Trickster? An Introduction | Kristina Fagan
Trickster Reflections: Part I | Niigonwedom James Sinclair
The Trickster Moment, Cultural Appropriation, and the Liberal Imagination in Canada | Margery Fee
The Anti-Trickster in the Work of Sheila Watson, Mordecai Richler, and Gail Anderson-Dargatz | Linda Morra
Why Ravens Smile to Little Old Ladies as They Walk By | Richard Van Camp
Gasps, Snickers, Narrative Tricks, and Deceptive Dominant Ideologies: The Transformative Energies of Richard Van Camp’s “Why Ravens Smil to Little Old Ladies as They Walk By ...“ and/in the Classroom | Jennifer Kelly
A Conversation with Christopher Kientz | Linda Morra
Personal Totems | Sonny Assu
Rigoreau, Nappi, and Wesakecak
Dances with Rigoureau | Warren Cariou
Naapi in My World | Eldon Yellowhorn
Sacred Stories in Comic [Book] Form: A Cree Reading of Darkness Calls | Deanna Reder
Coyote and Nanabush
“Coyote Sees the Prime Minister” and “Coyote Goes to Toronto” | Thomas King
Excerpt from Indigenous Storywork: Educating the Heart, Mind, Body, and Spirit | Jo-ann Archibald
(Re)Nationalizing Naanabozho: Anishinaabe Sacred Stories, Nationalist Literary Criticism, and Scholarly Responsibility | Daniel Morley Johnson
Quincentennial Trickster Poetics: Lenore Keeshig-Tobias’s “Trickster Beyond 1992: Our Relationship” (1992) and Annharte Baker’s “Coyote Columbus Cafe” (1994) | Judith Leggatt
Trickster Reflections: Part II | Niigonwedom James Sinclair
Telling Stories Across Lines
Processual Encounters of the Transformative Kind: Spiderwoman Theatre, Trickster, and the First Act of “Survivance” | Jill Carter
Diasporic Violences, Uneasy Friendships, and The Kappa Child | Christine Kim
“How I Spent My Summer Vacation”: History, Story, and the Cant of Authenticity | Thomas King
Appendix I: The Magazine to Re-establish the Trickster, Front Page
Appendix II: Let’s be Our Own Tricksters, Eh | Lenore Keeshig-Tobias
Copyright Acknowledgements
List of Contributors
Contributors’ Biographies
Jo-ann Archibald (Sto:lo) is the Associate Dean for Indigenous Education at the University of British Columbia and the Acting Director of the Native Indian Teacher Education Program. She has recently released Indigenous Storywork: Educating the Heart, Mind, Body and Spirit (2008).
Sonny Assu (Laich-kwil-tach) received his BFA from the Emily Carr Institute of Art and Design in 2002 and his certificate in Multimedia Studies from UBC in 2004. He has held solo exhibits at Equinox and the Belkin Satellite Gallery and group exhibits at several galleries.
Warren Cariou (Métis) is the Canada Research Chair in Narrative, Community and Indigenous Cultures at the University of Manitoba, where he also directs the Centre for Creative Writing and Oral Culture. He has published fiction, nonfiction, and criticism dealing mainly with Métis culture.
Jill Carter (Anishinaabekwe) is completing her dissertation, Repairing the Web: Spiderwoman’s Grandchildren Staging the New Human Being at the Graduate Centre for Study of Drama (University of Toronto). She has published in Canadian Woman Studies/Les Cahiers de la Femme: Indigenous Women in Canada (26. 3,4) and Stanislavsky and Directing: Theory, Practice and Influence (Legas, 2008).
Kristina Fagan (Labrador-Métis) is an Associate Professor at the University of Saskatchewan and specializes in Aboriginal writing and storytelling in Canada. She has published articles on methodology in the study of aboriginal literature and on the depiction of aboriginal people in settler-Canadian literature. Her current research is on autobiography and storytelling among her people, the Labrador Métis. She is also increasingly interested in oral traditions and the ways in which the study of such traditions challenge our usual methods of literary analysis.
Margery Fee is a Professor of English at the University of British Columbia. She has been specializing in post-colonial studies, particularly in the comparison of Indigenous literatures in Australia, New Zealand-Aotearoa, and Canada, since the early 1990s. Recently she has been writing about racializing narratives associated with the “‘Aboriginal’ thrifty gene.” She is the editor of Canadian Literature.
Daniel Morley Johnson is a PhD candidate in Comparative Literature at the University of Alberta, where he has taught courses in the Faculty of Native Studies. He has also taught at Maskwachees Cultural College in Hobbema. His dissertation is a Cree literary history. Johnson is a graduate of the Aboriginal Studies program at the University of Toronto.
Jennifer Kelly teaches in the International Indigenous Studies Program at the University of Calgary. Her interests include Indigenous Literatures and Interpretive/Pedagogical Practices, Indigenous Film, and Research Ethics. She is co-coordinator (with Delia Cross Child, Ramona Big Head, and Georgette Fox) of “You May Laugh”: Surviving, Remembering, and Transforming Residential School Experience, with members of the Kainai Nation, Southern Alberta.
Chris Kientz (Cherokee) traces his Native ancestry back to the Eastern Cherokee nation of Tennessee and the Dawes Rolls. He has worked as an independent producer and animator, developing multimedia projects for commercial clients in both Canada and the United States for over ten years. He has scripted, produced, and directed award-winning video, animation, interactive media and web sites for numerous clients. Growing up among the Navajo, Zuni, and Hopi people of New Mexico gave Chris a great respect for North American Aboriginal Art and Culture. Raven Tales represents the culmination of this interest.
Christine Kim is an Assistant Professor in the department of English at Simon Fraser University. Her teaching and research focus on Asian North American literature and theory, contemporary Canadian literature, and diasporic writing. She has recently published articles in Open Letter, Studies in Canadian Literature, and Asian Canadian Writing Beyond Autoethnography (WLU Press, 2008). She is currently working on a book-length project titled From Multiculturalism to Globalization: The Cultural Politics of Asian Canadian Writing and is co-editing a collection of essays called Cultural Grammars of Nation, Diaspora and Indigeneity.
Thomas King (Cherokee) is a Professor of Native literature and Creative Writing at the University of Guelph. He is renowned for writing such novels as Medicine River and Green Grass, Running Water. He gave the 2003 Massey Lecture, “The Truth about Stories: A Native Narrative.”
Judith Leggatt is an Associate Professor in the Department of English at Lakehead University. She teaches postcolonial, First Nations, Canadian, and women’s literatures and has published articles on Lee Maracle, Salman Rushdie, and postcolonial pedagogy. Her present research interests include the representations of dirt and disease in First Nations literature, and the intersections of science fiction and postcolonialism.
Linda Morra, Associate Professor in the Department of English at Bishop’s University, specializes in Canadian Studies/Literature with a particular focus on twentieth-century Canadian writers. Her publications include a book of the letters of Emily Carr and Ira Dilworth (Corresponding Influence, 2006), an anthology about Marshall McLuhan (At the Speed of Light There is Only Illumination, 2004), and essays about Tomson Highway, Jack Hodgins, and Mordecai Richler.
Deanna Reder (Cree-Métis) holds a joint appointment as Assistant Professor in Simon Fraser University’s First Nations Studies Program and Department of English. Her main fields of study are Indigenous literary theories and autobiography theory with a particular focus on Cree and Métis life writing. She has recently published on Edward Ahenakew in Studies in Canadian Literature and was recently appointed series editor for the Aboriginal Studies series at Wilfrid Laurier University Press.
Steve Sanderson (Cree) is a member of the James Smith Cree Nation. Sanderson is currently located in Vancouver where he works as an animator. The front cover image for Troubling Tricksters: Revisioning Critical Conversations as well as the front cover image for the WLU Press Fall/Winter 2009 Catalogue is from his comic book entitled Darkness Calls distributed by The Healthy Aboriginal Network.
Niigonwedom James Sinclair (Anishinabe) is a graduate of the Native American Literatures program at the University of Oklahoma and is currently a PhD Candidate in the Department of English at the University of British Columbia. His dissertation is an Anishinaabeg literary history. He is originally from Ste. Peter’s (Little Peguis) Indian Reserve in Manitoba. His creative work has appeared in Prairie Fire and Tales from Mocassin Avenue: An Anthology of Native Stories, while his critical work will appear in two anthologies in 2009 and 2010. He also writes a monthly column entitled “Birchbark Bitings” in Urban NDN, Manitoba’s monthly alternative Native newspaper.
Richard Van Camp is a proud member of the Dogrib (Tlicho) Nation from Fort Smith, NWT, Canada. A graduate of the En'owkin International School of Writing, the University of Victoria’s Creative Writing BFA Program, and the Master’s Degree in Creative Writing at the University of British Columbia, Richard currently teaches creative writing with an Aboriginal focus at the University of British Columbia. His novel, The Lesser Blessed, will soon be a movie with First Generation Films. Director, Kelvin Redvers, has now completed the film adaptation of Richard Van Camp’s short story, “firebear called them faith healers,” with Cross Current Productions and will be screening the film at various film festivals internationally. Richard’s new collection of short stories, The Moon of Letting Go, will be released in 2009 and his new novel, Blessing Wendy, will be published in 2010.
Eldon Yellowhorn (Piikani) is an Associate Professor in archeology and the program chair in First Nations Studies at Simon Fraser University. Currently he is working toward defining the tenets and objectives of indigenous archaeology and examining its contributions to archaeological theory.


Troubling Tricksters is a collection of theoretical essays, creative pieces, and critical ruminations that provides a re-visioning of trickster criticism in light of recent backlash against it. The complaints of some Indigenous writers, the critique from Indigenous nationalist critics, and the changing of academic fashion have resulted in few new studies on the trickster. For example, The Cambridge Companion to Native American Literature (2005), includes only a brief mention of the trickster, with skeptical commentary. And, in 2007, Anishinaabe scholar Niigonwedom Sinclair (a contributor to this volume) called for a moratorium on studies of the trickster irrelevant to the specific experiences and interests of Indigenous nations.
One of the objectives of this anthology is, then, to encourage scholarship that is mindful of the critic’s responsibility to communities, and to focus discussions on incarnations of tricksters in their particular national contexts. The contribution of Troubling Tricksters, therefore, is twofold: to offer a timely counterbalance to this growing critical lacuna, and to propose new approaches to trickster studies, approaches that have been clearly influenced by the nationalists’ call for cultural and historical specificity.


Although the focus of the book is serious, the pieces themselves are lighthearted and engaging, especially the bawdy and irreverent trickster tales (traditional and contemporary). The reader comes away with a sense that the trickster is alive and present, not stored away in an ethnographic tome. This is a significant contribution to the robust field of Canadian indigenous studies and a welcome expansion of Canadian literary studies.... Highly recommended.

- J. Ruppert, University of Alaska Fairbanks, Choice, November 2010, 2010 November

With its impressive lineup of both Indigenous and non-Indigenous scholars and creative writers, this volume demonstrates the fertility of the new, ethically engaged, Indigenous-centric literary critical model.... The colleciton benefits from the presence of creative work by well-known Indigenous writers like King and also Richard Van Camp, whose risqué story ‘Why Ravens Smile to Little Old Ladies As They Walk By’ is included, then carefully analyzed within the classroom setting by Jennifer Kelly. With its discussion of Indigenous literary expression in a wide range of genres, its refreshing variety in discourse, and the intellectual precision of the majority of its contributions, Troubling Tricksters functions as an excellent illustration of the diversity and vitality of Indigenous literary studies as it is taking shape in the twenty-first century.

- Keavy Martin, University of Alberta, English Studies in Canada, 36/4, December 2010, 2012 January

Troubling Tricksters is a far-reaching text, promoting an innovative critical approach to the ‘trickster discourse–and also, because of the presence of essays by Native scholars, constitutes the first step towards a more faithful interpretation of Indigenous literature.

- Giuseppina Botta, University of Salerno, British Journal of Canadian Studies, Volume 24, #2, 2011, 2011 October

The strength of Troubling Tricksters is its grounding in Native literary nationalism, studies that engage not only the literature, but the communities' ways of knowing and traditions from which the work grew. Many of the essays are situated in tribal-specific ways of knowing.... Clearly, tricksters, in whatever guise, are still a force to be reckoned with.

- June Scudeler, Canadian Literature, December 2011, 2011 December

From the opening question, `What's the Trouble with the Trickster?' to the concluding imperative, `Let's Be Our Own Tricksters, Eh,' the essays, interviews, poems, and stories in this collection signal an important new phase of trickster studies: one that is deeply historically and culturally grounded. Deanna Reder and Linda Morra have gathered the nineteen voices of scholars and artists, of storytellers and critics, of tricksters and troublemakers to reinvigorate critical conversations about Nanabush, Coyote, Rigoureau, Wesakecak, Raven, Glooscap, Naapi, and `the trickster'. Often with a captivating sense of humour and in highly readable prose, Troubling Tricksters follows the shift from `the trickster moment' of the 1980s to the ethical engagements of contemporary Indigenous theory. This timely intervention should become compulsory reading for anyone interested in literary studies in Canada today.

- Laura Moss, associate professor, Department of English; associate editor,Canadian Literature; and director, International CanadianStudies Centre, University of British Columbia, 2010 February