Narrative Desire and Textual Consummation in Haida, Tlingit, and Northern-Dene Textualized Orature: A Critical Review Essay on Narrative Revitalization


  • Jasmine Spencer University of Victoria



Abstract: Associated with the rubric of desire and consummation are four interrelated challenges for the critical interpretation of oral narratives transformed into printed texts: the boundaries of the discursive (presence and absence), the recursive (orality and literacy), the ontological (animality and humanity), and the metaphysical (reincarnation and rewriting) that occur in the collaborations I examine in this review article of oral-literary methodologies and ideologies. I focus on better-known and lesser-known key examples from Haida, Tlingit, and northern-Dene orature as culturally and linguistically defined bodies of oral literature that follow from two interconnections between them: the bioregional and the bibliographical. By comparing essentially Modern conditions for interpretive uncertainty with interpretive cues found in the stories themselves, through a critical review of the colonial and decolonial poetics of orature, I argue that cross-border ways of thinking with these stories may enact narrative revitalization (cf. Spencer, “Telling Animals”; “The Soundscape”) through the circulation of meaning as “desire” and as “consummation.”

Keywords: Indigenous languages and literatures; textualized orature; Indigenous epistemologies; decolonial semiotics; comparative poetics


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How to Cite

Spencer, J. (2020). Narrative Desire and Textual Consummation in Haida, Tlingit, and Northern-Dene Textualized Orature: A Critical Review Essay on Narrative Revitalization. Tusaaji: A Translation Review, 7(1), 48–67.