Editorial

 

A little over two years ago, when we began the process of imagining what Transmotion might become, we envisioned a journal that would push boundaries, both in terms of the diversity and sophistication of its published content and in terms of its accessibility (through the on-line format and use of an open access platform). With our second volume, published here as a double issue, we believe we are truly coming into our own in realizing that vision. Volume 2 highlights the full range of subject matter and approaches that are addressed in this journal's statement of editorial philosophy. We are excited to be publishing the first set of what we hope will be many contributions focused on the visual and performing arts. We are also pleased to be able to feature an increasingly broad range of literary scholarship and creative work. The diversity of subject matter and approaches on display here is very much in the spirit of Gerald Vizenor's own boundary-breaking and incisive work.

 

The guest-curated special section of this double issue includes its own introduction, by Andrea Carlson. Carlson's contextualization of the contributions by Rhiana Yazzie, Allan Ryan, Emily Johnson, Pallas Erdrich, and Deborah Root requires no editorial amplification here. Suffice it to say that the editors are grateful to her for catching the spirit of our initial "curatorial" request to her, and in assembling a series of works that tease out visions of resistance and transformation. Such a vision is also on display in Stephen Graham Jones's open letter to Indian writers, a practical guide to the aesthetic, political, and personal benefits of literary transgression. We are grateful to the inestimable Dr. Jones for permission to publish this piece (which was first delivered as an address at the Native American Literature Symposium in Albuquerque, NM in 2015). And we feel confident that he will appreciate the creative contributions included in the present issue. Terese Mailhot's non-fiction essay "Paul Simon's Money" combines the personal and political in the wickedly smart and edgy manner that readers of her work have come to expect. With David Heska Wanbli Weiden's short story "Spork," we also publish a new voice that takes up Stephen Graham Jones's call for indigenous writing to become increasingly experimental in terms of genre and tone. Finally, we once again have the great fortune to feature a piece by Diane Glancy, in this case an appreciation of Gerald Vizenor's work ("Totem") that pushes the boundaries of form and content for the scholarly essay.

 

The more conventional literary scholarship published in Volume 2 foregrounds generic diversity and experimentation in the realm of indigenous fiction, while also highlighting the ways that literary criticism can engage in constructive and politically relevant debate. Miriam Brown Spiers's essay, "Reimagining Resistance: Achieving Sovereignty in Indigenous Science Fiction," employs a theoretically sophisticated approach to genre in unpacking what is rapidly becoming a canonical work of contemporary native fiction, Blake Hausman's Riding the Trail of Tears. Placing that novel in dialogue with the work of science fiction theorist Darko Suvin and Vine Deloria allows Spiers to explore Hausman's indigenization of science fiction tropes in a manner that will be applicable to other writers as well. Finally, we are pleased to be able to include in this issue a pair of articles that engage with James Welch's complicated novel The Heartsong of Charging Elk. Tammy Wahpeconiah's "'An Evening's Curiosity': Image and Indianness in James Welch's The Heartsong of Charging Elk" contextualizes and interprets Welch's work in relation to pervasive and persistent myths of the American west. For evidence of the ongoing relevance of this work, one need look no further than the coverage of the water protector activism at the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation, where American audiences are fed a steady diet of images painting these contemporary events as scenes out of the nineteenth-century "Wild West." Complementing Wahpeconiah's piece, we complete our issue with John Gamber's "In the Master's Maison: Mobile Indigeneity in The Heartsong of Charging Elk and Blue Ravens." Gamber reads Welch's book in dialogue with Vizenor, comparing each writer's treatment of the theme of exile and manipulation of the classic "homing plot" that has structured much native fiction since the 1960s. Gamber's sophisticated discussion takes up the intersection between those formal issues and broader contemporary debates surrounding indigenous masculinity, concluding that these novels foreground the important, if sometimes vexed, possibilities for Native movement and relocation (or, as we might say, transmotion).  

 

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Transmotion is open access, thanks to the generous sponsorship of the University of Kent: all content is fully available on the open internet with no paywall or institutional access required, and it always will be. We are published under a Creative Commons 4.0 license, meaning in essence that any articles or reviews may be copied and re-used provided that the source and author is acknowledged. We strongly believe in this model, which makes research and academic insight available and useable for the widest possible community. We also believe in keeping to the highest academic standards: thus all articles are double-blind peer reviewed by at least two reviewers, and each issue approved by an editorial board of senior academics in the field (listed in the Front Matter of the full PDF and in the online 'About' section).

 

David Carlson                                                                                                           November 2016

Theodore Van Alst

James Mackay

David Stirrup

 

 

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