Cover image for Captured in the middle : tradition and experience in contemporary Native American writing
Captured in the middle : tradition and experience in contemporary Native American writing
Larson, Sidner J., 1949-
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Seattle : University of Washington Press, [2000]

Physical Description:
183 pages ; 25 cm
General Note:
"A McLellan book."
Introduction -- House made of cards : the construction of American Indians -- American Indians, authenticity, and the future -- Vine Deloria, Jr. : reconstructing the logic of belief -- Constituting and preserving self through writing -- Louise Erdrich : protecting and celebrating culture -- James Welch's Indian lawyer -- Pragmatism and American Indian thought -- Conclusion.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
PS153.I52 L37 2000 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

On Order



Sidner Larson's Captured in the Middle embodies the very nature of Indian storytelling, which is circular, drawing upon the personal experiences of the narrator at every turn. Larson teaches about contemporary American Indian literature by describing his own experiences as a child on the Fort Belknap Reservation in Montana and as a professor at the University of Oregon.

Larson argues that contemporary Native American literary criticism is stalled. On one hand are the scholars who portray Indians stereotypically, assuming that the experiences of all tribal groups have largely been the same. On the other hand are those scholars who focus on the "authenticity" of the writer. In contrast, Larson considers the scholarship of Vine Deloria, Jr., who has a genuine understanding of the balance required in dealing with these issues. Two writers who have successfully redescribed many of the contemporary romantic stereotypes are James Welch and Louise Erdrich, both northern Plains Indians whose works are markedly different, their writing highlighting the disparate ways tribal groups have responded to colonization.

Larson describes Indians today as postapocalyptic peoples who have already lived through the worst imaginable suffering. By confronting the issues of fear, suppression, and lost identity through literature, Indians may finally move forward to imagine and create for themselves a better future, serving as models for the similarly fractured cultures found throughout the world today.

Author Notes

Sidner Larson is assistant professor of English at the University of Oregon, Eugene.

Reviews 1

Choice Review

In the cross-disciplinary tradition of the American Indian intellectuals analyzed in this book, Larson (Univ. of Oregon) ranges through literature, philosophy, autobiography, law, and American Indian literary tradition. He explores and amplifies themes begun in Vine Deloria's Custer Died for Your Sins (CH, Mar'70), Louis Owens's Other Destinies (CH, Feb'93), and Robert Warrior's Tribal Secrets (1994). At the same time, the author advocates for a more complex approach that goes beyond essentialist constructionist binaries in what he names "postapocalypse theory," an approach that privileges imagination over rationalism and integrates past, present, and future through discovering "useable past and a better-imagined future." Larson's analysis of Deloria, Erdrich, and Welch breaks some new ground, but the strength of his work is his refusal to engage in attack criticism and his use of a positive integrative approach to intellectual discourse, thereby demonstrating the potential of truly dialogic writing. As he did in Catch Colt (1995), Larson offers pieces of his unique autobiography, combined with rigorous, imaginative scholarship. Upper-division undergraduates through faculty. R. Bredin; California State University--Fullerton

Table of Contents

Introductionp. 3
House Made of Cards: The Construction of American Indiansp. 21
American Indians, Authenticity, and the Futurep. 39
Vine Deloria Jr.: Reconstructing the Logic of Beliefp. 58
Constituting and Preserving Self through Writingp. 70
Louise Erdrich: Protecting and Celebrating Culturep. 78
James Welch's Indian Lawyerp. 104
Pragmatism and American Indian Thoughtp. 129
Conclusionp. 144
Notesp. 157
Bibliographyp. 167
Indexp. 175