Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Metafiction and American Indians

Over on his blog, Phillip Nel uploaded a video about metafiction. He defines it (loosely) as fiction about fiction. He invited his readers to submit examples of children's books that may be categorized as metafiction.

For some time, I've toyed with the idea of making a video in which I talk about children's books. This morning I decided to do it. Below is my video. You'll see right away that its too dark, which makes it fuzzy. It is dark because too much light in front of me creates glare on my eyeglasses that, in effect, obscures my eyes. I'll try other locations and see if I can get the lighting just right. For now...

To reiterate in text what I said in the video...  Joseph Bruchac's The Heart of a Chief is a story in which the author (Bruchac) has created characters who talk about another story. In this case, Chris, the middle-school boy who is the main character, talks about a highly problematic---yet widely acclaimed---work of historical fiction called The Sign of the Beaver.

Look over to the right side of this page and scroll down to the bottom. See the section called "Labels"? In that section you'll find "Sign of the Beaver." Click on it and you'll see several posts about the book.

There are other examples of metafiction. In his novel, Indian Killer, Sherman Alexie created Marie, a character who challenges her professor for using The Education of Little Tree in a course about American Indian Literature.  Indian Killer is not a book meant for children. Some young adults would be fine with the content; others would not.

Another good example is Thomas King's A Coyote Columbus Story. The fiction King pokes at? That one that goes "In 1492, Christopher Columbus discovered America..."


Jean Mendoza said...

Cool!Not only am I inspired to re-read Heart of a Chief; the use of video to present and discuss problematic representations of Native people is also inspiring.

Anonymous said...

I am an informal student of storytelling and metafiction, and I've become increasingly interested in children's books, so you've got me incredibly interested in reading all of these works.

Metaficiton is such a great way to offer social commentary and highlight problems like this--I love it, though I wish it were not necessary in the first place!