Native American Literature and L’Écriture Féminine: The Case of Louise Erdrich

Sarah Parker, Jacksonville University
Wilson Kaiser, Florida State College at Jacksonville
Vol. 36, No. 1 (Spring 2017), 151-173

Louise Erdrich is an especially important contemporary American author because she draws together two key elements that have characterized American literature for more than a generation: a concern with issues of identity and the stylistic innovations of postmodern literature. As a nodal point for these two different traditions, Erdrich is ideally situated to illustrate the continuing relevance of French feminist theory to the collective American literary project. Because of her stylistic and conceptual innovation, Erdrich’s early work provoked controversy. While authors such as Leslie Marmon Silko attacked her writing as superficially “post-modernist,” we argue that it is more accurately identified with the work of French feminists like Hélène Cixous and Luce Irigaray, who effected a shift from essentializing identity politics toward experimental construction of subjectivity through linguistic innovation. Erdrich’s deconstruction of her female protagonists, and of gender identity more broadly, provides an effective avenue for continuing to explore the relevance of l’écriture féminine in contemporary American literature.


Mary Wollstonecraft Sojourner Truth Margaret Atwood Abigail Adams Amy Tan H.D. Simone de Beauvoir Zora Neale Hurston Frances Burney Virginia Woolf

"The white saxifrage with the indented leafe is moste commended for the breakinge of the Stone."

— Turner, Herbal, III, 68 [1568]