The Conversion Experience in America: A Sourcebook on Religious Conversion Autobiography

By James Craig Holte | Go to book overview

story, "No one is able to understand the Indian race like an Indian." They also represent a diverse and complex literary genre, one that obliges us to consider the nature of autobiographical expression in traditional Indian cultures, the role of outside white influence in the recording of personal experience, and the ultimate aesthetic as well as documentary value of the work. (p. 67)

Several important considerations remain for the student of Black Elk Speaks. First, Black Elk's life is filtered through the consciousness of John Neihardt, and even the most faithful recorder alters the information he transcribes. Although the words are those of Black Elk, does the structure of the narrative, emphasizing the loss of innocence and the deterioration of the environment because of the onslaught of the white man, belong to Black Elk, or has it been imposed by Neihardt? In addition, as William Bloodworth has noted in "Varieties of American Indian Autobiography," Black Elk converted to Catholicism before his meeting with Neihardt, and his recollections of both his visions and his life may be colored by Christian theology or New Testament apocalyptic thought. Does some of the imagery in Black Elk's vision, for example, come from a native tradition, or from the Book of Revelation?

Despite these potential problems, Black Elk Speaks is a significant American autobiography. It is more than a personal chronicle of an eyewitness to great battles. Black Elk Speaks is an articulate and moving personal history of an Indian holy man, and in combining communal history with individual vision, Black Elk speaks eloquently for the Sioux nation.


BIBLIOGRAPHY

Black Elk, as told to John G. Neihardt. Black Elk Speaks. New York: William Morrow, 1932. Reprint. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1979.

Bloodworth William. "Varieties of American Indian Autobiography." MELUS 5, 3( 1978): 67-81.

"Neihardt, Momaday, and the Art of American Indian Autobiography." Teaching English in the Two-Year College 4 ( 1978): 137-43.

Gunn Janet Varner. Autobiography: Toward a Poetics of Experience. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1982.

Holte James. The Ethnic I: A Sourcebook for Ethnic-American Autobiography. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1988.

Lee A. Robert. First Person Singular: Studies in American Autobiography. New York: St. Martin's Press, 1988.

McKluskey Sally. "Black Elk Speaks and So Does John Neihardt." Western American Literature 6 ( 1972): 238.

Neihardt John G. The Sixth Grandfather: Black Elk's Teachings Given to John G. Neihardt. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1984.

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The Conversion Experience in America: A Sourcebook on Religious Conversion Autobiography
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Preface vii
  • Introduction - Autobiography and Conversion ix
  • 1 - Jim Bakker (1940- ) 1
  • Bibliography 5
  • 2 - Lyman Beecher (1775-1863) 9
  • Bibliography 14
  • 3 - Black Elk (1863-1950) 17
  • Bibliography 22
  • 4 - Eldridge Cleaver (1935- ) Soul on Fire 25
  • Bibliography 29
  • 5 - John Cogley (1917-1976) 31
  • 6 - Charles W. Colson (1931- ) Born Again 39
  • Bibliography 43
  • 7 - Nicky Cruz (1938- ) Run, Baby, Run 45
  • Bibliography 51
  • 8 - Mary Francis Clare Cusack (1830-1899) 53
  • Bibliography 56
  • 9 - Dorothy Day (1897-1980) 59
  • Bibliography 64
  • 10 - Frederick Douglass (1817-1895) 67
  • Bibliography 74
  • 11 - Jonathan Edwards (1703-1758) 77
  • Bibliography 83
  • 12 - Olaudah Equiano (c.1745-1797) 87
  • Bibliography 91
  • 13 - Jerry Falwell (1933- ) Strength for the Journey 93
  • Bibliography 98
  • 14 - Charles Grandison Finney (1792-1875) 101
  • Bibliography 107
  • 15 - Alexander Irvine (1863-1941) 111
  • Bibliography 115
  • 16 - Rebecca Cox Jackson (1795-1871) 117
  • Bibliography 122
  • 17 - Peter Jenkins (1951- ) 125
  • Bibliography 130
  • 18 - Malcolm X (1925-1965) the Autobiography of Malcolm X 131
  • Bibliography 137
  • 19 - Aimee Semple Mcpherson (1890-1944) in the Service of the King 139
  • Bibliography 143
  • 20 - Thomas Merton (1915-1968) the Seven Storey Mountain 145
  • Bibliography 151
  • 21 - William Miller (1782-1849) Apology and Defense 155
  • Bibliography 159
  • 22 - Carry Nation (1846-1911) 161
  • Bibliography 165
  • 23 - Daniel Alexander Payne (1811-1893) 167
  • 24 - Pat Robertson (1930-- ) Shout It from the Housetops 173
  • Bibliography 178
  • 25 - Mary Rowlandson (c. 1635-1678 or 1711) 181
  • Bibliography 184
  • 26 - Thomas Shepard (1605-1649) the Autobiography of Thomas Shepard 187
  • Bibliography 191
  • 27 - Piri Thomas (1928- ) 193
  • Bibliography 198
  • 28 - Alan Watts (1915-1973) in My Own Way 199
  • Bibliography 204
  • 29 - John Woolman (1720-1772) the Journal of John Woolman 207
  • Bibliography 213
  • 30 - Ann Eliza Young (1844-1930?) 215
  • Bibliographic Essay 223
  • Index 227
  • About the Author 229
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