ASL Summer Lecture Series Closed with Talk by Billy Stratton

On July 11, 2013, Professor Billy Stratton from the University of Denver concluded the ASL Summer Lecture Series with his talk, “The Elegance of Peoplehood: Towards a Heteroholistic Conception of Native American Literature.” After briefly introducing different approaches to Native American studies, Prof. Stratton explained his own approach to Native American literature through the concept of the Peoplehood matrix.

In the matrix, language, sacred history, ceremony, and territory are considered to be all interconnected and inseparable. It enables scholars to move towards a heteroholistic approach to Native American literature, Stratton said. Quoting one of his articles on the subject, Stratton said heteroholism “reveals that tribally specific worldviews are contingent upon deep reservoirs of local knowledge to produce an understanding of reality that is anchored in sacred places, whether they be mountains, rivers, tundras”. It further enables a perspective from which “two universals that are contradictory [are] yet true.” For example, Stratton explained, the San Francisco Peaks are sacred to both the Navajo and the Hopi, which from his point of view is not mutually exclusive. In his lecture, Prof. Stratton also spoke about the performative power of language and Native American languages in the works of various authors such as N. Scott Momaday, Leslie Marmon Silko, and James Welch. The session ended with a lively discussion with the ASL students.