Modern Female Aboriginal Subjectivity (in) the Land: Mourning Dove's Cogewea

By Narduzzi, Dilia | Mosaic (Winnipeg), March 2008 | Go to article overview

Modern Female Aboriginal Subjectivity (in) the Land: Mourning Dove's Cogewea


Narduzzi, Dilia, Mosaic (Winnipeg)


"Isn't it grand?" she questioned. "These are my prairies, my mountains,
my Eden. I could live here always! I shall hate to leave them when the
final summons comes. Wherever I go, I recall every outline of those
embattled ranges, nor can the vision close at the grave. When away, I
grow lonesome, as a child for its mother. I become heart-sick for a
sight of those snow shrouded peaks, so rich in legendary lore. [...]
Leave the land where our braves rest in their last sleep? Never! I could
not be content elsewhere."
--Mourning Dove, Cogewea, The Half-Blood

Mourning Dove's Cogewea, The Half-Blood: A Depiction of the Great Montana Cattle Range is a novel that speaks to the concerns faced by Native people in the 1920s and 30s of the American West. The novel, written by a Native American woman, (1) explores the complexities of mixed-raced and gendered identities, concerns about the land and its plundering under white imperialism, and problems of tradition (the past) and breaking away from tradition. Mourning Dove, through the genres of the dime store novel--a popular pleasure intended for the masses--the western, and the frontier narratives, non-conventional genres that focus on the landscape, as well as romance genres, is able to expertly situate urgent political commentary in a popular textual context. Cogewea, The Half-Blood is a novel about male camaraderie and female subjectivity; as well, the text employs the voice of Great Spirit, the "god" figure, who appears for Cogewea when she makes the "right" moral moves. In this essay, I want to explore how Cogewea, The Half-Blood has come to be seen as a modernist text. I ask: what definition(s) of modernity are useful for an appropriate analysis of Cogewea, The Half-Blood? Secondly, I ask: what kind of modernity, if any, does Cogewea, The Half-Blood employ? Later in the essay, I introduce an ecocritical framework as a supplement to traditional understandings of modernity, suggesting that thinking about the rural, or the land, in the context of modernity complicates its definition. I see Mourning Dove and Cogewea, The Half-Blood doing this work of transformation. Consequently, both of the frameworks that become central to my analysis, modernity and ecocriticism, influence my reading of Cogewea, the character, as a modern Aboriginal subject. My argument for Cogewea, The Half-Blood is most explicitly situated in the context of landscape and the effects of landscape on Cogewea's subjectivity.

I attempt here to understand Mourning Dove's work through three complementary lenses. First, my aim is to (re)figure definitions of modernity for an analysis of Cogewea, The Half-Blood. Second, I underscore how Cogewea's subjectivity is constructed by and through landscape, and I gesture towards the problems and possibilities involved in reading Cogewea through her connection to land. Third, I position Cogewea as a modern subject-object on the "wilderness" scene, an analysis I enact by using the theoretical material offered by Liz Conor in her important book The Spectacular Modern Woman: Feminine Visibility in the 1920s.

Rita Felski, in her book The Gender of Modernity, argues that "appeals to modernity have [...] been used to further a multifarious range of political and cultural interests. Rather than identifying a stable referent or set of attributes, 'modern' acts as a mobile and shifting category of classification that serves to structure, legitimize, and valorize varied and often competing perspectives" (14). She continues, "My analysis thus begins with the assumption that modernity embraces a multidimensional array of historical phenomena that cannot be prematurely synthesized into a unified Zeitgeist [...]. Rather than inscribing a homogeneous cultural consensus, the discourses of modernity reveal multiple and conflicting responses to processes of social change" (14-15). Felski's definition of the modern works for understanding Cogewea, The Half-Blood--the idea of the modern period points out both the fluidity of the period and its own inherent conflictedness. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Modern Female Aboriginal Subjectivity (in) the Land: Mourning Dove's Cogewea
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.