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I need to write an essay ( 5 pages + 8 power point slides) on same topic. I am including the primary sources links and that assignments rubrics below which can better explain how to write assignment.

The Midterm and Final Papers are analyses of politically-significant primary cultural sources

in terms of race, gender, sexuality, class, ethnicity, nation, etc., that pertain to US and/or

transnational histories. The midterm and final papers should answer such questions as:

• What relationships exist between (mass/high/low/popular/etc.) culture and people’s

material lives and their social, economic, and political realities?

• What are some of the roles culture plays in people’s economic, political, psychological,

psychic, and spiritual lives?

• How can culture have an impact and significance that goes beyond mere “entertainment?”

1. Choose four primary cultural sources (feature and documentary films, television shows,

music videos, etc.) that you can write about for four pages and that have

political/historical significance. Describe your sources in ways that goes beyond just the

plot/narrative but instead has some kind of political/historical analysis.

2. Then, choose four written texts (books, articles, websites, etc.) that connect to your four

primary cultural sources.

3. The fifth page should be a works cited page listing the four written texts interspersed in

the paper as footnotes/endnotes/parenthetical references.

For each paper, choose four cultural examples representing:

1. white supremacy/race relations/African-American/black-transnational histories

2. hetero-patriarchy (gender)

3. queer representations/sexuality

4. class/economic inequalities

5. national identities

6. transnational issues, such as migration, refugees, questions surrounding borders, etc.

7. histories as a political act

Once you choose your four primary cultural sources, choose four written texts (books, journal

articles, websites, etc.) that directly connect to your primary cultural sources. These should be

incorporated throughout the paper as footnotes and/or parenthetical references and used to

provide a broader understanding/context to your four primary cultural sources. The paper should

be four-pages plus a one-page works cited page listing the four written texts (MLA format).

Midterm/Final Paper Rubric: NO QUOTATIONS

Creative Title (i.e. “Blackface in Hollywood Histories)

Page 1: Introductory Paragraph: Thesis statement:

My four primary cultural sources are 1. 2. 3. 4. Then two general sentences about the four

primary cultural sources in terms of their histories, politics, representations, stereotypes, etc.

Primary cultural source 1 description/analysis, connect to written text 1 with citation

(Author’s last name in parentheses/footnote).

Page 2: Primary cultural source 2 description/analysis, connect to written text 2 with citation

(Author’s last name in parentheses/footnote).

Page 3: Primary cultural source 3 description/analysis, connect to written text 3 with citation

(Author’s last name in parentheses/footnote).

Page 4: Primary cultural source 4 description/analysis, connect to written text 4 with citation

(Author’s last name in parentheses/footnote).

Conclusion paragraph, restate 4 primary cultural sources and add 2 general sentences.

Page 5: Works Cited Page in MLA format

Basic format: Author’s Last Name, Author’s First Name. Title of the Book in Italics.

City Where the Book was Published: Publisher, Year of Publication.

This information can be found in books’ copyright pages, in the first few pages of your book.

For example:

Adams, Rachel. Sideshow USA. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1999.

Beltrán, Mary., and Camilla Fojas. Mixed Race Hollywood. New York: New York

University Press, 2008.

McKee, Alison L. The Woman’s Film of the 1940s: Gender, Narrative, and History.

New York: Routledge, 2014

Reading and Composing Indians: Invented
Indian Identity through Visual Literacy
Resolved, that the National Council of Teachers of English through
its publications, conferences, and affiliates support professional development and promote public awareness of the role that viewing and
visually representing our world have as forms of literacy.
(NCTE 1996)
drawing upon available cultural and social means. Lyons suggested that a more productive question than ‘‘what is an Indian?’’
is ‘‘what does an Indian identity do?’’ We could also add: ‘‘what does an
Indian identity do for me?’’ Here we read a collection of visual representations of Indians as a space from which we can engage a rich and
more complex understanding of cultural practices of representation—
the stories told by drawings, specifically (but certainly also by food
wrappers, labels, logos, mascots, and the myriad other visual aspects of
US culture). We frame this analysis and our discussion by theories of
visual literacy and of visual rhetoric; multimodal literacy approaches
provide scaffolding for situating the representations we read and provide a stable base from which we can build practices to engage students
in a more complex and critical sense of cultural identities and how
cultural identities function. Meaning making is a complex act. Recent
scholarship has evolved to address not only the traditional, text-based
modes of producing and circulating ideas, but also visually complex
and often multimodal ways of knowing.
The Journal of Popular Culture, Vol. 43, No. 1, 2010
r 2010, Wiley Periodicals, Inc.
Dànielle Nicole DeVoss and Patrick Russell LeBeau
Visual Literacy
Not surprisingly, in our media-saturated contemporary world, visual
rhetoric, visual literacy, and visual fluency are all terms that have recently
received a good deal of attention across fields.1 Special issues of journals
have been dedicated to addressing issues related to ‘‘the visual’’ (e.g.,
Computers and Composition, volume 18, numbers 1 and 2, 2002; Technical
Communication Quarterly, volume 5, number 1, 2001; Journal of Computer
Mediated Communication, volume 5, number 4, 2000; Enculturation: A
Journal of Rhetoric, Writing, and Culture, volume 3, number 2, 2001;
Metaphor and Symbolic Activity, volume 8, number 3, 1993;
Argumentation & Advocacy, volume 33, number 1, 1996). More and
more college-level textbooks oriented toward the teaching of writing,
specifically, include visual elements, and the producers of these textbooks heavily highlight these ‘‘visual’’ elements while marketing the
texts (e.g., Everything’s an Argument 4, Lunsford and Ruszkiewicz; The
Call to Write, Trimbur; Convergences, Atwan; Picturing Texts, George,
Palchik, Selfe, and Faigley; Reading Culture, George and Trimbur; Seeing & Writing, McQuade & McQuade). A variety of readers designed
for students in fields not necessarily camped within the fields that
have traditionally or typically taught visual texts (such as Popular
Culture Studies, Film Studies, Media Studies, etc.) have emerged;
often, these texts are geared toward students interested in studying
‘‘visual culture’’ and ‘‘visual studies’’ (e.g., Hall, Howells and Gill,
Mirzoeff, Sturken and Cartwright, Walker and Chaplin).
Literacy as Culturally and Historically Situated
Understanding how knowledge is produced, circulated, and regulated
in our culture is crucial for us as educators and as scholars. Thus, each
of these special issues, many of our professional discussions, and some
of the book authors have sought a common definition of literacy itself,
and especially of visual literacy and what this term entails and includes.
Although some theorists have appropriately suggested that literacy
itself is a problematic and contested term (see, e.g., Wysocki and
Johnson-Eilola) and offer alternatives such as visual fluency (see Winkielman, Schwarz, Reber, and Fazendeira), we use the term literacy
here to apply to the broad skills and understandings required of us
when we read and compose multiple symbols in multiple spaces in
Reading and Composing Indians
multiple ways. We borrow Wysocki and Johnson-Eilola’s (367)
incredibly useful definition of literacy: ‘‘not as a monolithic term but
as a cloud of sometimes contradictory nexus points among different
positions. Literacy can be seen not as a skill but a process of situating
and resituating representations in social spaces.’’ This definition
reminds us of the claims of Mikhail Bakhtin—that utterances are
always dialogic and heteroglossic, and thus our understandings of the
world that surrounds us is created in concert with the utterances
orbiting around us, be they verbal, textual, or visual.2
We situate literacy within cultural and historical tensions, such as
the uses of literacy to regulate social spaces and practices (Gee, Street)
and to regulate the boundaries of text and alphabetic literacy
(Stroupe)—what ‘‘counts’’ as literate activity. We also situate literacy
within technological evolution—literacy has evolved to include technological procedures and understandings, as more and more reading
and composing takes place in virtual and digital realms. Olson defined
literacy as ‘‘the competence to exploit a particular set of cultural resources’’ and further elaborated that literacy ‘‘is not just learning the
abc’s; it is learning to use the resources of writing for a culturally
defined set of tasks and procedures’’ (43). Literacy encompasses social
space and multiple, diverse technologies and the contexts in which we
use them. Brian Street has explored how cultural tasks are defined and
how literacy is culturally positioned. He overviews the power of
autonomous literacy in western society; within modern understandings
of the world and of cultural conditions, literacy often becomes a
totalizing force and powerful social muscle, proclaimed as an asset, as a
sort of commodity that people need to function, survive, and thrive
in society. Literacy is an unquestioned good and is assumed to be
understood and measurable. Illiteracy is blamed for a variety of social
ills, without much regard to the actual social conditions that cause
social strife (few of which are directly related to illiteracy). This
approach to literacy allows those in power to vilify and lay social blame
upon those who often are not politically equipped to answer their
accusations. Deborah Brandt identified literacy as hybrid and complex;
these seem apt adjectives to describe literacy in light of the shifting
social change and ideological base of practices that Street describes.
Literacy is an ongoing, dynamic ability that piles up, spreads out, and
brings with it residual trappings of previous literacy skills and social
and cultural dimensions. Brandt (660) suggested that, currently,
Dànielle Nicole DeVoss and Patrick Russell LeBeau
literacy ‘‘requires an ability to work the borders between tradition and
change, an ability to adapt and improvise and amalgamate.’’ Literacy
is not a set of neutral skills, but instead an ideological practice—a
complex set of practices and values implicated in power relations and
embedded in cultural meanings and practices. In American culture—
especially in American academic contexts—literacy often relates
distinctly and directly (although superficially) to the ability to read
and write text. This emphasis on alphabetic knowing as primary and
most crucial has served to relegate visual and multimodal ways of
knowing to ‘‘immature’’ or even semiliterate status. Historically, however, it is obvious that knowing, telling, and sharing take place in
multiple, complex, and culturally situated ways, including storytelling
outside of the privileged modes of communication (e.g., the textbook,
the theoretical text).
Tensions of the Textual and the Visual
We use the term visual here in juxtaposition to textual, although visual
elements have textual features and supplements, and often text has
visual elements and supplements. For example, many visuals are accompanied by captions when presented as figures in manuscripts such
as this one. Many visuals also often have text added to them, as we see
in advertisements where a slogan or quote (‘‘copy’’) appears on top of an
image. Text involves visual and design characteristics often ubiquitous
to most of us, including typeface, font size, leading, spacing, margin
settings, and more. Text itself is a visual element—something that has
design features, something that calls forth mental images, something
that allows us to make associations.
At a roundtable discussion at the 2001 Conference on College
Composition and Communication, titled ‘‘Issues and Directions in
Visual Rhetoric,’’ chaired by Anne Wysocki, the participants (Tharon
Howard, Stephen Bernhardt, Charles Kostelnick, Susan Hilligoss,
Greg Wickliff, Karen Schriver) discussed
the complexity of visual languages, emphasizing the need for
languages in plural;
the need for a shared vocabulary for discussing visual rhetoric, but
admitting that the complexity of visual languages prohibits this;
Reading and Composing Indians
the remediation of concepts from textual analysis to visual analysis,
but also the recognition that if we rely upon textual meaning and
interpretation to explain visuals, we limit ourselves;
the recognition that technical skill sets related to both reading
and composing visual language is incredibly diverse, even
among the homogenized group ‘‘student’’;
the need to create spaces for students to experiment with visual
design and visual creation;
the recognition that education typically divorces visual language
from textual language early in learning (i.e., elementary school),
and that education needs to better integrate visual learning and
visual languages across the curriculum (Hochman, Alexander,
Hult and Crawford).
This is but one discussion, one set of voices in what is becoming a
cacophony of voices debating issues of text and image, visual language
and visual rhetoric. But this one discussion serves well to articulate
some of the key concerns with which we grapple as we negotiate the
blurry boundaries of text and image and allow for more robust
understandings of visual and multimodal means of knowledge making.
In the section that follows, we review the ways in which a monolithic and problematic story is told about Indians in American culture.
We then focus specifically on how students translate their understandings of what an ‘‘Indian’’ is to visual texts, and how we can read these
visual texts as rich base knowledge upon which we can build a more
complicated understanding of contemporary cultural representations of
Native American life.
How America Reads Indians
Historically, there are two competing Indian icon dynasties: That of the
brave, noble warrior, and that of the violent, ignoble savage. Old westerns, dime novels, movies, and myriad other cultural artifacts reflect the
Indian as either a war-weary yet majestic chief or a blood-thirsty, untrustworthy brute (Aleiss, Bataille and Silet, Berkhofer, Bird, Boehme,
Bordwich, Hilger, King). These two representations have watered down
to a generic Indian icon prevalent today in a multitude of visual sources,
including food wrappers, billboards, and sport utility vehicles.
Dànielle Nicole DeVoss and Patrick Russell LeBeau
Sports teams—Redskins, Fighting Reds, Indians, Warriors,
Chiefs—and their accompanying imagery—large-nosed, headdressed
chiefs holding bows and arrows or tomahawks—have received a great
deal of attention (an excellent resource site that includes multimedia
work related to mascots is available at http://www.aistm.org/; a
collection of articles that addresses the topic is King, Springwood, and
Deloria). A Lalo Alcaraz political cartoon shows an image of a white
man with ‘‘go savages, kill em’’ painted on his abundant stomach, a
headdress with a few bedraggled feathers stuck in it, and a tiny flag
announcing ‘‘go warrior savages’’ stating to a frowning young Native
American man wearing t-shirt and jeans, ‘‘but I’m honoring you,
dude!’’ Defenders argue that this sort of cultural appropriation is
somehow an honor or sign of respect: ‘‘we love our braves’’ or ‘‘we’re
respecting the great Indian heritage.’’ This imagery misrepresents and
homogenizes a group of people representative of more than five
hundred nations in 2009 and, further, promotes misunderstanding and
fosters ecologies of appropriation and ridicule.
Many scholars have both analyzed and critiqued the multiple images
of Native Americans that appear across our culture—Redman Chewing
Tobacco, Natural American Spirit cigarettes, Calumet Baking Powder,
Mazda Navajo, Jeep Cherokee (see, e.g., Bataille, Caldwell-Wood and
Mitten, Faris, Gidley, King, et al., Pewewardy, Trimble). Whereas
Aunt Jemima and Betty Crocker have both received a new look occasionally over the years to present a more current, updated image, the
images of Native Americans circulating in our culture are stale and
have not been replaced by more contemporary views of Indian life. The
images and the text that accompanies representations of Indians are
stale and stereotypical; the images are almost always men, wearing
feathered headdresses and braids, holding spears or more likely tomahawks or bows and arrows. In many images, the men stare reflectively
off into the distance (their gaze never looks outward, toward/at the
viewer), or they are mounted upon a horse, holding a weapon, sometimes with the carcass of a deer or buffalo at their feet (see Figures 1 –
3). Very few women appear on products, and certainly no women are
associated with sports figures or sport utility vehicles. The sole Indian
woman that holds a prized cultural seat is Pocahontas, and often she is
portrayed Disney style, with Caucasian features, light skin, painted
lips, and in highly sexualized costume (see Figures 4 and 5). The
language that accompanies images of Indians are expressions of
Reading and Composing Indians
FIGURE 1. Untitled Collector’s Plate.
FIGURE 2. ‘‘Native American Hunting’’ Alabastrite Figure; accompanying
text: ‘‘With his horse at full gallop, this Native American hunter aims at his
prey with bow and arrow.’’
‘‘noble,’’ ‘‘mystical,’’ and ‘‘magical,’’ and often spirits and ceremonies
are presented ambiguously or without context or explanation. Expressions of a ‘‘time gone by’’ or ‘‘the history of these remarkable people’’
riddle the descriptions of the trinkets for sale, labeled only ‘‘Indian’’ or
‘‘Native American.’’ Few specify nations or make mention of tribes.
Imaginary Indian Identity: Real and Virtual
Not only are ‘‘Indian’’ images and lore borrowed for trinkets and collector’s items, but Indian identity is borrowed as well. In the early
1900s, a group of students at the University of Michigan formed a
university-sanctioned student club and created an Indian tribe to use as
Dànielle Nicole DeVoss and Patrick Russell LeBeau
FIGURE 3. ‘‘Native American Figurine—Chief Sculpture’’; accompanying
text: ‘‘A majestic Native American chief, dressed in feather headdress and
tribal garb, holds a peace pipe.’’
FIGURE 4. ‘‘Native American Indian Maiden’’ Coffee Mug; accompanying
text: ‘‘In each moment of every day, lies a little touch of magic.’’
Reading and Composing Indians
FIGURE 5. ‘‘Mouse Pad Indian Maiden with Prayer Fan’’; accompanying text
reads: ‘‘Indian Maiden Praying To Great Spirit Wolf & Eagle Spirit.’’
an identity marker. As LeBeau (112) reported, these students took
‘‘symbolic possession’’ of Indians in a way that catered to romantic,
stereotypical beliefs about American history and the place of Native
Americans. The ‘‘Michigamua’’ students created elaborate rituals and
ceremonies, selecting among and appropriating the ‘‘Indian’’ characteristics they most admired—most related to ‘‘warrior virtues.’’
Dànielle Nicole DeVoss and Patrick Russell LeBeau
The use of Indian lore and mystique is not limited to ‘‘real’’ space;
an infamous example of ‘‘passing’’ as Indian occurred in digital space,
in an American Online chatroom in the early 1990s, where a Caucasian man rebirthed himself as ‘‘Blue Snake,’’ a supposed Eastern
Shawnee chief. Blue Snake existed in a virtual sweat lodge, passing a
peace pipe to visitors who passed through, offering Native American
blessings, making visitors honorary Indians, and gifting them with
membership in the ‘‘Evening Sky Clan.’’ In elaborate online rituals,
he bestowed names upon his followers: ‘‘Crystal Bear Woman,
Stormcloud Dancer, and Darkness Runs From Her’’ (Martin 125).
Eventually, Native American AOL members caught on to Blue
Snake; one woman frothed: ‘‘I couldn’t believe it. His seminars were
a hodgepodge of the worst kind of bullshit stereotypes and gobbledygook possible’’ (Martin 125). Blue Snake defended himself, suggesting that his adoption of an Indian identity and his perpetuation
of what some people called online fraud was a respectful gesture
toward honorable Native American cultures and traditions. Glen
Martin, who reported on the entire incident in Wired magazine, and
who quoted from a document scripted by members of three tribes of
the Shawnee nation, noted that in this case, imitation was not flattery, nor was it sincere in any way. Miller, one of the most vocal
opponents of Blue Snake, was eventually banned from AOL. She
suggested that ‘‘the company [AOL] didn’t want us disturbing the
fantasy . . . it doesn’t want real Indians—we’re not ‘‘Indian’’ enough’’
(128). Apparently, AOL wanted Indians where most of mainstream
America seems to want them—in homes, on plates, decorating coffee
mugs, and mousepads—the buckskin fringes and the feathers, the
noble warrior. Many Native peoples online today, instead of spending
their time establishing active, contemporary identities and participating in larger communities, spend their time policing sites that
present a distorted, inaccurate, or inappropriate glimpse at supposed
‘‘native’’ customs and life (Haas). Vine Deloria writes: ‘‘The whites
are sincere but they are only sincere about what they are interested
in, not about Indians about whom they know very little. They get
exceedingly angry if you try to tell them the truth and will only
reject you and keep searching until they find the Indian of their
fantasies’’ (xv). Thus, in their attempts to remedy the absent presence
of Indians (Powell), they are often trapped in roles that continue to
make them absent.
Reading and Composing Indians
Indian Identity as Commodity
This pervasive view of the Indian as a commodity and as a romantic
reflection of America’s cultural past often relies on an absence of an
understanding of Indian culture. Images of Indians in headdress and
tomahawk rarely are created or interpreted with an understanding of the
cultural and tribal conventions explaining dress and custom. Thus, Indians become both icon and archetype—a singular, static motif—of a
glorious American past. Although many scholars would argue that these
ever-present stereotypical representations must be removed from our
cultural imaginary, here we argue that they are far too prevalent to ignore,
dismiss, or erase. They are so prevalent, in fact, that children readily view,
absorb, and—as the example drawings we will share below articulate—
remediate them. A recent political cartoon shows two schoolchildren
walking together, one saying to the other ‘‘Really? You don’t look
Indian.’’ Above his head appears a thought bubble with images of a
Disneyfied Pocahontas, a Kansas City Chiefs helmet, the mascot of the
Cleveland Braves, a caricature of a goonish-looking brave, a majesticlooking brave on horseback, and a tomahawk. It is relatively easy to
dismiss such representations, but, instead, imagery of Indians can be
recognized as base knowledge—as an established set of cultural and visual
literacies—upon which more dynamic, accurate, contemporary understandings of Native Americans and Native cultures can be formulated.
Composing Indians
For many years now, Patrick has been leading workshops and assemblies
regarding Michigan Indians, yesterday and today, for audiences that range
from elementary schoolchildren to college-age adults. To begin his discussions, Patrick always asks attendees to draw what they know about
Indians. (We have included the entire prompt, along with some commentary and further explanation, in Appendix A.) The motifs that
quickly appear across the perhaps fifteen hundred images Patrick has
collected in his travels and speaking engagements are not surprising: the
teepee, the tomahawk, and the feathered headdress figure prominently
among the images participants produce (see Figures 6 and 7 for examples).
These images are not surprising, considering what children know
about Indians, and the icons and items that shape what they know of
Indians. It is easy to point out that the students apparently have no
Dànielle Nicole DeVoss and Patrick Russell LeBeau
FIGURE 6. Example of Indian motifs in drawings.
cultural sense of the range of tribes and nations and variances in dress,
language, geography, etc. It is easy to emphasize the generic quality of
the drawings, and the fact that students very, very rarely represent
contemporary images of American Indians and/or Native American
life. Rather than dismiss these drawings as simplistic and stereotypical
representations, however, we prefer to read them differently.
These images are rich creations and representations of base knowledge. Obviously, the individuals who take part in this exercise and
create these images have a complex understanding of what ‘‘Indian’’ is
and are able to create complicated visual representations of that
understanding—representations that blend textual and visual knowledge of Indian identity, and that tell a story of Indian identity. If we
return to the three figures above, we get a sense of the depth of
students’ knowledge. If we look at Figure 6, we can observe the
student’s attempt to explain (with words and images) Indian life. This
Reading and Composing Indians
FIGURE 7. Example of Indian motifs in drawings.
student knew that Indians ate steer and buffalo, represented by the
horned skull with ‘‘food’’ written above it and by the nuts or berries
and the fish with the arrow through it. This student knew that Native
peoples hunted with the tomahawk and the bow and arrow, with
‘‘wipins.’’ The student knew that Indians lived in different types of
‘‘shelters,’’ including the teepee and the mud hut. ‘‘Dancing,’’ represented by the somewhat abstract sketch with a face below it, was part
of Indian culture(s). We can read from this student’s collage his complex sense of the items he associates with what it meant (means) to be
an Indian. Other images reveal such complexity (see Figures 8 and 9).
Interesting sketches come from those students who have integrated
Patrick’s discussion into their images—some students attempted to
spell out the Ojibwa words Patrick taught them during his presentation (see Figure 10). Other students created a visual map of the
trajectory of historical Indians to the present space of Native American
life. Figure 11 presents what we assume is a comparison of a historically represented Indian to a contemporary representation of an Indian.
Figure 12 presents at least two possible readings: First, we might read
the set of images as progression for us of Indian life, where the family
represented moves from living in a teepee to living in a contemporary
dwelling (relocated via moving van). However, a second reading is
Dànielle Nicole DeVoss and Patrick Russell LeBeau
FIGURE 8. What Indians Eat (1).
indicated by the numbers the student has included. If we allow the
numbers to frame our reading, we might pull two sets of representations from this image: The first set of sketches (labeled first,
second, third) might represent what the student might consider to be
typical Indian life, defined by teepees and horses. The second set
of sketches (again labeled first, second, third) juxtaposes a rendering of
‘‘mainstream’’ life, defined by cars, urban dwellings, moving vans, and
speedboats to historic Indians of the past. Figure 13 integrates both
historical and contemporary representations of Indian life—this student has included typical Indian iconography (i.e., bow, arrow, teepee,
headband), but also a rifle and, most interestingly, a slot machine
complete with a pullhandle and flashing light on top.
Reading and Negotiating Representations of Identity
We can obviously read images such as those examples included above
in two ways: First, as condemnable, stagnant stereotypes that trap
Indians in the past. The second approach, however, allows a more
productive read of these images and allows us to read these images as
Reading and Composing Indians
FIGURE 9. What Indians Eat (2).
multimodal visual stories that serve as arguments and that demonstrate
students’ rich base knowledge and ability to learn new concepts within
a few minutes of storytelling.
Before we further explore the notions of base knowledge and the
multiple literacies students express and demonstrate in these images,
we want to address notions of identity, as notions of Indian identity are
crucial to these images. Identity is, essentially, the sense of self that
grows out of one’s interactions with others. Importantly, many of the
participants in Patrick’s work have not had significant interactions
with flesh and blood Native peoples—or, if they have, they do not
Dànielle Nicole DeVoss and Patrick Russell LeBeau
FIGURE 10. Hello (Aannii), People (Anishinaabe), and Until Later (Baamaapii).
FIGURE 11. Diachronic Transitions.
associate these folks with the representations of ‘‘Indians’’ that have
been culturally conjured for them. Again, think of the political cartoon
of the boy explaining to the young girl, ‘‘Really? You don’t look like an
Indian.’’ Instead, these students’ interactions with ‘‘the Indian’’ have
been limited to stereotypical images, romantic constructions, and
reproduced icons. If we reflect upon the current cultural context in
Reading and Composing Indians
FIGURE 12. (A) Diachronic Transitions (2). (B) Diachronic Transitions (3).
which students confront this imagery, we can see how slippery notions
of identity are, and how these particular notions of Indian identity feel
comfortable, approachable, and solid.
Historically, one of the most familiar and comfortable anchoring
points was a solid sense of self: The I-think-therefore-I-am stable notion of identity. Currently, however, in our postmodern context, this
Dànielle Nicole DeVoss and Patrick Russell LeBeau
FIGURE 13. Traditional Images and Casino, a new traditional image?
sense of self and our abilities to rely upon other familiar anchoring
points (e.g., sovereign nation states, The Family, Truth) have crumbled—have disappeared in a landscape of dynamic global expansion,
vast technological change, the rapid multiplication of micropolitical entities, and the explosive growth of alienating forces like global crime and
terrorism. Manuel Castells (3) explained how individuals make meaning
and understand identity in a rapidly shifting world; that political identities formulated around language and literacy practices are
fast becoming the main, and sometimes the only source of meaning. . . . People increasingly organize their meaning not around what
they do but on the basis of who they are, or believe they are.
It is somewhat paradoxical that in the face of identity slippage and
shifts that the image of Indian identity is trapped in the past. However,
Reading and Composing Indians
perhaps the image of the Indian allows us a sense of stability, of security—to have a shared, concrete, understandable history in the face of
a world in which identity shifts so dynamically and constantly. We
may cling to icons and identities that feel stable in a world in which
our senses of self slide around constantly, depending on variables such
as place, space, and time in the world. Our sense of self, our identity, is
a story that we write every day.
Using a postmodern understanding of time, space, and literacy
practices, Deborah Brandt (651) suggests that literacy, instead of being
a somewhat stable, static, measurable thing, is actually a dynamic
process. New literate practices constantly arise in a society where ‘‘not
even elites of the past have encountered the current contexts in which
literacy in its many forms is being practiced and learned.’’ Today,
students’ literate practices are mediated and remediated by a variety of
media and events, including the dynamic, evolving space of the World
Wide Web. Brandt (651) suggests that perhaps the best way to actually
measure what would typically be called literacy is to assess ‘‘a person’s
capacity to amalgamate new reading and writing practices in response
to rapid social change.’’ She argues that literacy piles up and spreads
out. Further, literacy has a residual character. We do not instantly and
easily replace one ‘‘old’’ practice with a new practice but instead build
our literacy practices upon one another, which, in turn, shifts and
reshapes our literacy practices. This takes place much as stories are told
and shared—stories evolve with each telling, just as literacy changes as
we adapt and as we adopt new practices. If we read students’ representations of the Indian as base knowledge, or initial literacy and
understandings, we can then use this as a structure upon which to
build additional understanding.
If we, however, attempt to eradicate students’ rich base knowledge—to devalue it as stereotypical and racist—we are not acknowledging the cultural sources and spaces where students learn these
representations of Indians. Nor are we paying close attention to students’ knowledge. We can read students’ expressions as base knowledge—or, as Brandt describes it—as artifacts of literacy, which move
back and forth and across generations and contexts.
In their ‘‘Pedagogy of Multiliteracies,’’ the New London Group
(NLG) presents a learning and literacy manifesto. The authors describe
the traditional page-based, official forms of learning and teaching and
argue that the ‘‘idea of literacy pedagogy [must] account for culturally
Dànielle Nicole DeVoss and Patrick Russell LeBeau
and linguistically diverse and globalized societies’’ and that ‘‘literacy
pedagogy must account for growing variety of text forms associated
with information and multimedia technologies’’ (61). The authors
describe the changing work, public, and private lives of individuals living today, and argue that schools are often both the gatekeepers of ‘‘appropriate’’ means of literacy and the regulators of
this literacy.
‘‘All meaning-making,’’ the NLG authors argue, is multimodal, relying on visual, audio, gestural, and spatial understandings and expressions of understanding. These hybrid practices are well reflected in
the images collected during Patrick’s presentations. This hybridity
reflects student attempts at bridging the textual and the visual, as they
label their images. These hybrid designs reveal the relationship of
different knowledges presented in a single document. To engage students in extending their knowledge of the Indian, we can rely on one of
the frameworks the NLG (68) offers: critical framing, which ‘‘relates
meanings to their social contexts and purposes . . . framing in relation
to historical, social, cultural, etc., of particular systems of knowledge
and social practice.’’
The NLG presents an approach that includes available designs (the
resources of design), designing (which reproduces given knowledges,
social relations, etc.), and the redesigned (the resulting new meaning,
which, in turn, becomes new available designs). Certain modes of
meaning facilitate these processes, including visual meanings, audio
meanings, gestural meanings, spatial meanings, and, most importantly,
multimodal meanings. All meaning, the authors argue, is multimodal.
The hybridity and intertextuality of meaning help us to understand the
relationship of different designs in meaning.
The visual claims here rely upon at least three kinds of context:
‘‘immediate visual context, immediate verbal context, and visual
culture’’ (Birdsell and Groarke 6). Visual context is sometimes difficult
to measure and is incredibly complex. Are the students responding
to Patrick’s appearance and their assumptions about who and what he
is? Are the students responding to the space in which the discussion is
taking place? Are the students responding to visual cues that teachers
and/or principals are giving? The verbal context here includes the text
the students composed, be these styled as captions or supplementary
explanations of their drawings. Robert Sitz reported on a similar
phenomenon he observed when he asked a group of students to
Reading and Composing Indians
draw a ‘‘pop bottle’’ and reported that students embellished elaborately
with ‘‘background detail or with verbal balloons, captions, and other
notations’’ (88), many of which related to Coca-Cola. Even though
students were instructed to not use words, most of them did; Sitz
reads their textual compositions as ‘‘background or contextual information . . . revealing in regard to student interests, sense of humor,
attitude, and so on’’ (88). The visual culture students draw upon during
these exercises is the world in which the students exist, rich with
Teaching Visual Analysis
The most compelling suggestion, for us, is to ask all educators to
understand students’ base knowledges. Obviously, students come into
our classrooms with rich cultural histories and from contexts that help
shape those histories. Often, it is tempting to condemn students’
beliefs, especially when they are personally or politically offensive.
However, condemnation does not lead to student learning and development. Instead, tracing student beliefs is a worthy activity, exploring
why individuals think the way they do regarding, for example, Native
Americans. This understanding can then be a springboard to shape
more complex and accurate understandings of difference.
American Indian stereotypical imagery is hard to avoid and hard
to ignore. A cursory examination of Indian units taught in many
schools have students drawing or otherwise constructing artifacts
recognized as ‘‘Indian’’: tepees, headdresses, canoes, buckskin outfits,
etc. Linking these artifacts to specific Native American people or
situating them into a specific historical frame is rarely part of the unit’s
or lesson plan’s listed goals. Without much effort, these stereotypical
artifacts can be used in instruction but need a precise and accurate
context. The challenge teachers face is not to avoid these objects
and activities or to condemn them—or to use them without thought
or perspective. Creating buckskin outfits out of grocery bags or
designing a canoe from birch bark can build an understanding
about a specific time and place. But there must be room for that
context and understanding to change and grow as students and teachers
develop new knowledge. Therefore, teachers and students should
recognize images that stereotype and/or freeze Native Americans
Dànielle Nicole DeVoss and Patrick Russell LeBeau
in the historical past. Obviously, artifacts like feather headdresses
influence the way we think about Indians, but we can add to that
influence by, for example, creating context and perspective by asking
and answering questions about the artifacts we find in American
consumer culture.
An initial step toward deeper, contextual visual engagement is to
seek out examples of images of Indians in stores, on billboards, and
on products. These images support three important points: First, most
of the images found in grocery stores or toy stores are of warriors and/or
princesses. Second, enough stereotypical examples exist to substantiate
the claim that people are more likely to encounter stereotypical images
of the American Indian than to meet flesh and blood Native American
people. Finally, this search of stereotypical imagery shows the prevalence of such imagery in American culture in a way that is hard to
ignore. Teachers and students, through this exploration and analysis,
through this accumulation of images, can better understand the proliferation of these approaches to Native Americans, and the stereotyping of American Indian culture, rituals, practices, and beliefs.
A second step is to encourage educators to work toward replacing
students’ cultural stereotypes—both positive and negative—with more
fluid, dynamic understandings of tendencies. It is tempting generally
to reduce an entire cultural group, tribe, or nation to a simple representation. Edmond Weiss (260) warns, however, that ‘‘even if these
facile generalizations are mainly true, we should always be uncomfortable with any conception that treats members of a group as
instances of a profile—tokens of a type—rather than as individual
persons’’ and Linda Beamer (294) adds that although stereotypes ‘‘may
be helpful and even accurate to some degree, they are limited insights,
revealing only a part of the whole culture.’’ We encourage educators
here to approach stereotypes as both positive and negative because
although most stereotypes emerge from fear or misunderstanding,
some stereotypes hold limited truths and are useful in a limited
capacity. Because ‘‘stereotypes’’ is such a loaded expression and fosters
negative perceptions in readers’ minds, we follow the model of DeVoss,
Jasken, and Hayden (80) and suggest the use of the term tendencies,
which allows ‘‘space for deviations and differences from our expectations of the ‘norm’.’’ One method toward putting an understanding of
tendencies into practice is described by DeVoss et al.: asking students
to think about the groups in which they are members, and asking
Reading and Composing Indians
students to further reflect upon the stereotypes that others might hold
about those groups, where these stereotypes arise, and how justified
these stereotypes are. Creating visual renderings of their own group
identities is a space to visually represent these associations. Often,
students do not have a strong sense of stereotypes until they themselves
become the objects of stereotyping. This exercise also allows for the
analysis of how stereotypes limit communication contexts and cultural
An activity that can follow an activity like the one we have
described in the Appendix A is to ask students to tell stories about
their own cultures, both textually and visually. These stories could be
of North American/United States culture in general, or more specifically, this prompt could ask that students reflect upon their own
racial/ethnic identity. Students may find it much more difficult to tell
stories about their cultures, or to visually represent their cultures. Ask
the students how they situate themselves within a cultural background.
What stories do their drawings tell? Does any person resemble their
As teachers, we must be prepared to negotiate the cultural visual
references that students have built and will bring to our classrooms.
And, if we believe, as Scott Lyons does, that ‘‘Indian’’ is an argument
made drawing upon available cultural and social means, we can borrow
from students’ established literacy practices and further those practices
to equip students with stronger ballast for their stories regarding what
an Indian is and thus reconstruct what an Indian identity does, and we
can engage students in thick analysis of their own identities and representations. In doing so, we may be able to reach a point where
students move beyond stereotypical and historic notions of Indian
identity to realize a broader bandwidth of both historical and contemporary Native American identities. Ignoring the rich practices and
understandings of students—or dismissing them—erases the potential
moments and spaces within which we can make change; ignoring
students’ preconceived notions negates the fissures within which we can
move our understandings of Native Americans into more robust, more
appropriately representative spaces.
Dànielle Nicole DeVoss and Patrick Russell LeBeau
Appendix A
The History of the Prompt: Drawing Knowledge in Elementary School
Patrick Russell LeBeau
Drawing Indians
Over the past 23 years as I have been lecturing and teaching on the
general subject of American-Indian Studies, I have collected audience
drawings of Indians. Regardless of whether I am introducing a film,
giving a lecture, teaching a class, presenting at an elementary school
assembly, or conducting a teacher-training workshop, I ask participants
at the start of the session to draw what they think the film/lecture/class/
presentation/workshop is about. Participants already anticipate the
content to be something about American Indians, due to the title,
subject, or focus of the event. Even my Lakota/Plains Chippewa
ancestry provides a physiognomic prompt as I stand before them and
make my request. Provided with a title, a subject, and an American
Indian teacher, participants spend ten minutes drawing and doodling
images of what they believe to be relevant to the day’s discussion.
Although what they draw is somewhat predictable, the level of imagination and knowledge of Indians and consistency of the imagery
between disparate audiences is something surprisingly interesting to
analyze and study.
After collecting images for ten years, I made a collage piece out of
them. Very apparent in the collage was the difficulty in distinguishing
between what was drawn by elementary students from Michigan and
California and what was drawn by adults, which included graduate
students, social studies teachers, professors, and community members
from across the United States. Regardless of geographical location,
the different audiences shared an elaborate and imaginative idea of
American Indians as revealed by their drawings, even though their
drawings are predictable, stereotypical, stylized, and frozen in the past.
Some differences are evident: A number of elementary students used
crayons or markers, while most adults drew stick figure Indians and
scenarios with pencil or pen (less confident, I believe, in their artistic
abilities). More remarkable are the similarities—most of the pictures
Reading and Composing Indians
drawn can be reduced to teepees and warriors, with war weapons and
feathered headdresses. Why are the same pictures drawn over and over
again by all age groups regardless of gender, age, or educational background? Clearly, the participants had knowledge of Indians, albeit
oversimplified, standardized, and ahistorical.
Situating Indians Across Media and Education
Since the late 1960s, scholars have researched the presence of Indian
stereotypes in American consumer culture, Hollywood films, television
programming, toys, children’s literature, American canonical literature, American art, and American popular culture. The presence of
Indians across popular media, objects, and artifacts is the understandable source of information that has shaped what an ordinary US citizen
knows about Indians. Raymond Stedman’s Shadows of the Indian: Stereotypes in American Culture (1967), Arlene B. Hirschfelder’s American
Indian Stereotypes in the World of Children: A Reader and a Bibliography
(1st ed 1982), Peter C. Rollins’ and John E. O’Connor’s Hollywood’s
Indian: The Portrayal of the Native American in Film (1998), Jacquelyn
Kilpatrick’s Celluloid Indians: Native Americans in Film (1999), and
Philip J. Deloria’s Playing Indian (1998) and Indians in Unexpected Places
(2004) are among many works that have documented the pervasive
presence of American Indian stereotypes in American culture and society. The scholarship has proven that stereotypical images of Indians
are easy to find and that these images have had a subliminal influence
on impressionable minds.
Although early education about American Indians begins in elementary school—most often in fourth grade—the knowledge young
people in the United States have of Indians predates classroom instruction. For example, an education major working with elementary
students and taking one of my classes on the origin and history of
American Indian stereotypes brought to me, after a lecture on Indian
classroom artifacts, an Indian paddling a canoe, a classroom project
where students constructed the canoe out of paper and cardstock; when
completed, each student’s name was inscribed on the paddle (see Figure
14). However, this student reported that despite the project, most of
the students could tell elaborate stories about Indians and they could
also draw very detailed pictures of Indian life frozen in a distant past, as
Dànielle Nicole DeVoss and Patrick Russell LeBeau
FIGURE 14. An education major in my course on ‘‘Rethinking Michigan In-
dian History’’ and working in a local elementary school classroom gave me
this canoe after listening to a lecture where I produced examples of similar
projects conducted by elementary school teachers in other schools.
the main part of this article explains. The education major was amazed
children knew so much about Indians. In another elementary school
activity he described to me, students are instructed how to build a
simple three-dimensional Indian-life diorama.
Another teacher noted that providing the students with basic materials (shoebox, colored construction paper, a teepee template, a few
toy horses, scissors, crayons, and markers), and a simple prompt (make
an Indian home) was all that was needed for a fifty-minute activity (see
Figure 15). Not only were students absorbed with the construction of
the diorama, they play-acted and were able to tell detailed stories about
make-believe Indians. Although much that is created and play-acted is
most often stereotypical, teachers are often surprised at the sophisticated knowledge young people can bring to the classroom before and
during lessons about American Indians. I have had many students in
my undergraduate classrooms remember fondly their first ‘‘Indian’’
lessons and school projects. One student gave me a drawing made in
fourth grade that was a prized keepsake until the student learned about
Reading and Composing Indians
FIGURE 15. A School Project.
the pervasive and perplexing presence of Indian stereotypes in American culture (see Figure 16). He told me he always could imagine an
‘‘Indian world’’ when he looked at that drawing and he liked it so much
he even brought it to college with him.
The Prompt Evolves
With years of experience and travel, along with interactions with
scholars and college students, I continue to ask audiences to draw what
they know of Indians. Recently I was scheduled to visit over fifty
elementary classrooms, grades 4 through 6, over a period of ten days
(or five classrooms a day). My goal was the same as it has been for
some time: I wanted to explore ‘‘what students already know and what
they found fascinating’’ about American Indians while at the same
time teaching them something new.
I modified my original prompt from a single, simple logo or drawing
to ‘‘draw whatever you know about Indians.’’ Although some teachers
frowned on having students draw during my presentation, I encouraged
the students to do so, and the results were, in their way, a form of notetaking and a type of visual annotation of my presentation. My task was
(in forty minutes) to teach fourth through sixth graders something about
Michigan-Indian history and to give them a simple language lesson.
I wanted to stress that Michigan Indians live in the present day and that
Indians have a continuous history rather than one frozen in the past.
I taught them three Ojibwa words: Aannii (Hello), Anishinaabe (People),
and Baamaapii (Until Later). The results were amazing.
Dànielle Nicole DeVoss and Patrick Russell LeBeau
FIGURE 16. College Student’s Fourth Grade Drawing.
The elaborate story-filled pictures elementary students produce
when asked to draw what they know about American Indians reveals a
complex visual language students can use to communicate knowledge
they are confident they possess and further, they began to incorporate
new knowledge like Aannii and Indians in modern settings. The
drawings reveal an elaborate connection between pictures and words
constructed with letters of the alphabet as demonstrated by the
numerous drawings of recognizable implements, like a bow, aligned
aside a word, like ‘‘bow.’’
What I learned was that stereotypes, though perpetuating false
histories, can be a foundation for new knowledge and a way of introducing imaginative minds to complicated ideas and concepts about
American Indians, the complete opposite of a simple stereotype.
1. This sense of visual literacy as a ‘‘new’’ topic in theory and pedagogy is, however, not quite
accurate. For historical explorations of visual topics, see, for example: Dondis; Fransecky &
Debes, Visual Literacy: A Way to Learn—A Way to Teach; Kolers, Wrolstad, & Bouma, Processing
of Visible Language: Vol. 2; Wileman, Exercises in Visual Thinking, Visual Communicating.
2. This definition of literacy also includes visual literacy as part of larger sets of literacy, rather
than fragmenting visual literacy as apart from other reading and writing practices. We agree
with scholars such as Wysocki and Johnson-Eilola when they question the actions, meanings,
and associations that ‘‘literacy’’ brings to mind when we apply it in new realms or to new
practices (e.g., these authors warn that it is perhaps limiting to use the same language we use
to describe and analyze practices of reading text to practices of reading visuals). Here we do
Reading and Composing Indians
rely on these associations, but recognize the need to question them and to question the use of
the term literacy.
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Dànielle Nicole DeVoss is an associate professor and director of the
Professional Writing Program at Michigan State University. Her research
interests include computer/technological literacies; feminist interpretations of
and interventions in computer technologies; and intellectual property issues in
digital space. DeVoss’ work has most recently appeared in Computers and
Composition; Computers and Composition Online; and Kairos: A Journal of Rhetoric,
Technology, and Pedagogy. DeVoss recently co-edited (with Heidi McKee) Digital
Writing Research: Technologies, Methodologies, and Ethical Issues (2007, Hampton
Press), which won the 2007 Computers and Composition Distinguished Book
Award. She is currently working on a National Writing Project book with Troy
Hicks, titled Because Digital Writing Matters (Jossey-Bass), and an edited
collection with Martine Courant Rife and Shaun Slattery, titled Copy(write):
Intellectual Property in the Composition Classroom.
Patrick Russell LeBeau is professor of Writing, Rhetoric, and American
Cultures and former director of American Indian Studies at Michigan State
University. His scholarly interests include creative writing; American-Indian
intellectual, legal, political, and popular histories; and topics related to American
Indian curriculum and education. He has published three books: Stands Alone,
Faces and Other Poems (1999); Rethinking Michigan Indian History (2005), a book
Reading and Composing Indians
that provides essays, activities, and classroom resources for teachers and students;
and Term Paper Resources Guide to American Indian History (2009), a book that
covers the most significant topics in American Indian history from first contact
to recent years. He has also written many articles and book chapters, the most
notable, ‘‘The Fighting Braves of Michigamua,’’ which appeared in Team Spirits
(2001). He is an enrolled member of the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe of South
Dakota (his father’s home) and he is a descendent of the Turtle Mountain
Chippewa Tribe of North Dakota (his mother’s home).
Society for Cinema & Media Studies
University of Texas Press
Postfeminist Cliques? Class, Postfeminism, and the Molly Ringwald-John Hughes Films
Author(s): Anthony C. Bleach
Source: Cinema Journal, Vol. 49, No. 3 (Spring 2010), pp. 24-44
Published by: University of Texas Press on behalf of the Society for Cinema & Media Studies
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Cliques? Class,
and the Molly
Ringwald-JohnHughes Films
by AnthonyC. Bleach
Abstract:In order to reconsiderthe ways in which social class is articulatedin 1980s
culture,this articleinvestigatesthree iconic filmsstarringMollyRingwald:
Sixteen Candles (John Hughes, 1984), The BreakfastClub (Hughes, 1985), and Pretty
in Pink (Howard Deutch, 1986).
Americanculturallandscape is notablyawash withrefercontemporary
encesto themid-1980s. MollyRingwald,belovedstarof Sixteen
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inPink(HowardDeutch, 1986),was nominatedfora Primetime
wald inPretty
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won twiceforhisown workon Boston
Cryer’scostarin thesame film,recently
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(ABC, 2004-2008).
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scene, and the ooi^
spotsand on an I-c~
“everybodydance!” sequence
marketmicrositeby retailer
J.C. Penney,fortheir2009 back-to-school
< Club." "The ing campaigncalled,unimaginatively, J.C. Penney o" cõ Why the culturalrefocuson these filmsand icons of 1980s adolescence? Is I^X Fire in Elmo's St. Estevez Emilio as thisjust typicalnostalgia?Or, (Joel Cûo explains much? thank of JaimeClarke, ó Schumacher,1985),is ita matter obsession, youvery CL Writers ontheFilms AboutMe: Contemporary editor of the 2007 collection Don't YouForget 0) would probablysay the latter:as he admits,"the anthologyyou're ¿L ofJohnHughes, thesesalad days."1 I holdingin yourhandswas put togetherin a bid at recapturing the age of thirty under movies nobody And, despiteitsillogicalmoveof "evoking claimsthat Mathieson Rick knowsabout,let alone cares about," marketing guru 0) >
on the Films ofJohnHughes, ed.
to Don’t You ForgetAbout Me-.ContemporaryWriters
Jaime Clarke (New York:Simon SpotlightEntertainment,
2007), 2.
C. BleachisAssistant
/FilmQuarterlyandis coeditor
of articles
of aforthcoming
Spring2010 ! 49 | No. 3

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