Date of Award

Spring 2015

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor

Christian Knoeller

Committee Chair

Christian Knoeller

Committee Member 1

Nancy Peterson

Committee Member 2

Ryan Scheider


This thesis examines the work of three Ojibwe novelists through the cultural lens of primarily Ojibwe literary and cultural critics. Novels by Louise Erdrich, Gerald Vizenor, and David Treuer are analyzed with the intent of highlighting aspects of the work in which a heightened understanding of Ojibwe cultural and literary practices, both historical and contemporary, may elevate a reader's engagement with the texts. In the analyzing of these texts, precedence is given to the work of Ojibwe critics such as Vizenor and Anton Treuer. This prioritization of Ojibwe literary theory and cultural knowledge will demonstrate that readers, particularly non-Ojibwe readers, benefit in their experiences reading Ojibwe novels when they engage also with the historical and cultural background which informs the novels. This thesis concludes with a comparison of a cultural reading of David Treuer's novel Little with a psychoanalytic reading. The purpose of this comparison is to illustrate the different conclusions readers with and without a basic grounding in the culture of the Ojibwe may come to when analyzing the same culturally relevant aspects of the same novel.