Friday, May 1, 2009

The War in Words: Reading the Dakota Conflict through the Captivity Literature

by Kathryn Zabelle Derounian-Stodola

From the publisher:
The War in Words is the first book to study the captivity and confinement narratives generated by a single American war as it traces the development and variety of the captivity narrative genre. Kathryn Zabelle Derounian-Stodola examines the complex 1862 Dakota Conflict (also called the Dakota War) by focusing on twenty-four of the dozens of narratives that European Americans and Native Americans wrote about it. This six-week war was the deadliest confrontation between whites and Dakotas in Minnesota’s history. Conducted at the same time as the Civil War, it is sometimes called Minnesota’s Civil War because it was—and continues to be—so divisive.

The Dakota Conflict aroused impassioned prose from participants and commentators as they disputed causes, events, identity, ethnicity, memory, and the all-important matter of the war’s legacy. Though the study targets one region, its ramifications reach far beyond Minnesota in its attention to war and memory. An ethnography of representative Dakota Conflict narratives and an analysis of the war’s historiography, The War in Words includes new archival information, historical data, and textual criticism.

Kathryn Zabelle Derounian-Stodola is a professor of English and the director of the William G. Cooper Jr. Honors Program in English at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock. She is the editor of Women’s Indian Captivity Narratives and the coauthor of The Indian Captivity Narrative, 1550–1900.