Date of Award
Master of Arts (MA)
To celebrate Pauline Johnson and the literary legacy she has left for contemporary Native authors is the primary aim of my thesis. Though breast cancer took her life in 1913, she nevertheless remains a living legend through biographies, scholarly writings, and words of fiction. My thesis pivots on two main questions: how do Native readers interpret Johnson's texts, and what is her continuing legacy for Native women? The trend in Western scholarship has been to interpret the various ways in which Pauline Johnson "conformed" to the stereotypes which sought to confine Native womanhood during her lifetime. My method, however, seeks Pauline Johnson's power as an agent. Pauline Johnson did not conform to stereotypes; she struggled to reconfigure the racist categories which reduced Native womanhood to various "squaw" or "princess" types. Through Johnson's strategic cultural negotiations, she rehabilitated the term "squaw," and transformed the view of the passiveprincess image into one of activity. In doing so, Johnson celebrated multiple stages of Native womanhood and the natural progression from youth to old age; therefore, my thesis is written in a manner which reflects this process.
Corneau, Michelle, "Strong Mohawk Woman: Pauline Johnson's Literary Legacy" (2001). Open Access Dissertations and Theses. Paper 6125.
McMaster University Library