Talking About Ourselves: The Literary Productions of the Native Women of Canada (CRIAW Papers/Les document de l’ICREF No. 11


Description from the introduction to the paper:

“In this paper presented at the 1983 CRIAW Conference, Barbara Godard suggests that it is time for a redefinition of the text to include oral narratives and, ultimately, other forms of cultural production. Drawing on oral narratives, particularly those of native women, the paper further explores the oral text as a model for the woman’s text. Although we have recognized that women in the past have created oral and written forms such as songs, poetry, diaries, and letters, these forms have been marginalized and valued less than literature written according to socially-constructed norms for public consumption. The paper draws a parallel between the invisibility of native cultural productions and women’s artistic activities, both of which have been hidden by Euroamerican emphasis on the written form.

Godard concludes that the oral mode provides models of questions we might ask and ultimately it challenges the idea of the text as a product of an individual. Oral narrative suggests the importance of context, the need to understand gossip, and the potentialities of interdisciplinary approaches. Most importantly, this study of oral narrative suggests that our preconceived categories and notions of the text must be questioned and altered to include native/women’s cultural forms.”