Date of Award
Master of Arts (MA)
College of Humanities and Social Sciences
Thesis Sponsor/Dissertation Chair/Project Chair
This essay argues that Tommy Orange’s 2018 novel There There works to craft new spaces for a revised historicity capable of defining living and present tense Indigenous peoples, while also deconstructing the past-tense archetype embedded in the framework of “America.” In arguing this point, I examine There There’s place in the postmodern Native American canon as it relates to the emergence of what is considered a new wave Native Renaissance. In each of the three subsections that follow, I examine There There in relation to three contexts: (1.1) other Native American works from the contemporary field in what is being dubbed a new wave Renaissance, (1.2) white hegemonic representations, and (1.3) distinguished Native American writers associated with postmodernism. In section 1.1, I place Orange’s novel in a contemporary field of works by Indigenous authors being created in a multidisciplinary field of print culture, photography, and online activism. In section 1.2, I specifically examine Orange’s references to works by non-Natives who appropriated Native narratives, such as the film Dances with Wolves (1990). I call upon these works and their images in order to analyze There There’s resistance to a cultural hegemony that has defined both historicity and Native identity. In section 1.3, I look at how Orange situates his novel in relation to three postmodern Native American works in order to examine how Orange’s novel both evokes and resists the politics of representation pioneered in works by Louise Erdrich, Leslie Marmon Silko, and Sherman Alexie. In this section, I relate Orange to these writers while also situating Orange’s novel as a wrinkle to the postmodern canon’s once counterhegemonic works, which are now part of the hegemonic mainstream. In section two of this essay, I then expand on how There There’s historicity leads to a present tense peoplehood through a close reading of the novel’s present tense historicism and characterization.
Riggio, Greg, "“A Present Tense People, Modern, Relevant, Alive” : Writing Against Erasure in Tommy Orange’s There There" (2019). Theses, Dissertations and Culminating Projects. 274.