Show Less
Open access

Narrating North American Borderlands

Thomas King, Howard F. Mosher and Jim Lynch


Evelyn P. Mayer

The study centers on the presentation of the North American borderlands in the works of Canadian Native writer Thomas King’s Truth & Bright Water (1999), American writer Howard Frank Mosher’s On Kingdom Mountain (2007), and American writer Jim Lynch’s Border Songs (2009). The three authors describe the peoples and places in the northeastern, middle and northwestern border regions of the USA and Canada. The novels address important border-oriented aspects such as indigeneity, the borderlands as historic territory and as utopian space, border crossing and transcendence, post-9/11 security issues, social interaction along the border, and gender specifics. The interpretation also examines the meaning of border imaginaries, border conceptualizations, and the theme of resistance and subversion.
Show Summary Details
Open access




1    Introduction: Border Contexts and the Notion of the Beyond

      1.1    Poetic Border Approaches

               1.1.1    “At the Un-National Monument along the Canadian Border”

               1.1.2    “Mending Wall”

               1.1.3    Echoing the Poetic in Border Fiction: The “Un-National” and Walls

      1.2    Beyond, “Betwixt, and Between”

               1.2.1    Literary Analysis: The Confluence of Border and North American Studies

               1.2.2    Interdisciplinary Significance: Borders, Borderlands, and De/Bordering

               1.2.3    Procedure: Situating Canada-U.S. Border Fiction

2    Theoretical Frame: At the Interface of Literatures, Cultures, and Borders

      2.1    Poetic Prisms: The Cultural and Literary Turns in Border Studies

               2.1.1    Border(ing) Studies, Border Theory, and Border Poetics

               2.1.2    The Canada-U.S. Border/lands

               2.1.3    Border Conceptualizations: Parallax and Paradox

      2.2    Border Prisms: The Spatial Turn in North American Literatures and Cultures

               2.2.1    Transnational American Studies

               2.2.2    Transnational Canadian Studies

               2.2.3    Native/Indigenous Studies

      2.3    Beyond Disciplinary Boundaries

               2.3.1    North American Studies

               2.3.2    The Notion of “Worlding”

               2.3.3    Comparative Border Studies

               2.3.4    Palimpsests: Remapping and Rewriting ← 9 | 10 →

3    Thomas King’s Truth & Bright Water (1999): Native De/Bordering

      3.1    “Turtle Island”: Border Crossings and Transgressions

               3.1.1    Fluvial Boundary: The Stygian “Shield”

               3.1.2    Unfinished Bridge: Ambiguous Ampersand

               3.1.3    Cross-Border Communities: Truth & Bright Water

               3.1.4    Border Performance: State of the Art, Art of the State

      3.2    Diorama: Bordered Native-White Relations

               3.2.1    Pan-Tribalism: Haunting Past and “Happy Trails”

               3.2.2    Charades: Screening Stereotypes at the “Frontier” and Indian Days

               3.2.3    Cousins: Transcending the Liminal Abyss

               3.2.4    Quilt: Palimpsest and Map

      3.3    Turning the Tide: Monroe Swimmer’s “Survivance”

               3.3.1    Subversion: Monroe as Trickster

               3.3.2    Western Anthropology: Native Remains

               3.3.3    Colonial Legacy: Churches, Canvasses, and Carcasses

      3.4    Summary

4    Howard Frank Mosher’s On Kingdom Mountain (2007): Borderlands as Utopia

      4.1    Kingdom Rules: The Duchess and Subversion Strategies

               4.1.1    “Lady Justice”: Humor, Naming, Historical and Literary Allusions

               4.1.2    Religious Rewriting: Reclaiming by Renaming and Reappropriating

               4.1.3    Dual Perspectives and “Second Sight”: Ghosts, Mysteries, and Myths

      4.2    “The Flying Lovebirds”: The Clash and the Reversal of Stereotypes

               4.2.1    The Duchess: Heiress of Kingdom Mountain and Memphremagog Abenaki

               4.2.2    The Aviator: Southern Mixed-Race “Stranger” “from Away”

               4.2.3    Community Borders: Representing Racial Relations in 1930 White Vermont

      4.3    Blurred Color Lines: Kingdom Mountain as Utopian In-Between Space

               4.3.1    Contested Geopolitics: The Canada-U.S. Border and Kingdom Mountain ← 10 | 11 →

               4.3.2    Disconnected “Connector”: Ecology vs. Economy, or Past vs. Present

               4.3.3    Crossing the Mason-Dixon Line: En Route from Civil War to Civil Rights

      4.4    Summary

5    Jim Lynch’s Border Songs (2009): Power, Permeability, and Mobility

      5.1    Counterpoint: Natural Bird Songs, Constructed Border Songs

               5.1.1    “Big Bird”: Border Patrol Agent Brandon Vanderkool

               5.1.2    Budding Relationship: Agent Brandon vs. Smuggler Madeline

               5.1.3    In/Security and In/Sanity: American Norman vs. Canadian Wayne

      5.2    Borderlands Requiem: Security Paranoia in Cascadia

               5.2.1    “Nonchalant Border”: The Canada-U.S. Border (Ditch)

               5.2.2    Borderlands Transformations: Globalization and Securitization

               5.2.3    Border as Frontline: Farewell to a “Geographical Handshake”

      5.3    Border Echoes: Beyond Bodies, Buds, and Birds

               5.3.1    Liminal Limbo: “Line Dancing”

               5.3.2    Anthropomorphous Aviary: Arresting Art and Migrants

               5.3.3    Airborne: Brandon “Free as a Bird”

      5.4    Summary

6    Conclusion

7    Works Cited

8    Index ← 11 | 12 → ← 12 | 13 →