Introduction to the Structure of the Book
(Excerpt from Chapter 1)

The study is divided into four parts, which will be introduced briefly in the following:

Part I is dedicated to delineating the theoretical background of my study. Chapter 2 considers various approaches towards theorizing old age, whereas chapter 3 provides a discussion of models of conceptualizing American Indian identity.

Part II is concerned with depictions of old age in traditional stories. Chapter 4 begins with a discussion of key issues regarding traditional stories based on oral narratives, specifically their function in relation to cultural memory.

Chapter 5 provides summaries and brief analyses of a selection of traditional stories that deal with old age. The stories are centered on the social and political role of old people.

Chapter 6 analyzes three examples of modern literature that are directly based on, or set out to continue, the direct legacy of traditional stories: Barbara Duncan's collection of Living Stories of the Cherokee (1998), Leslie Marmon Silko's Storyteller (1981), and Velma Wallis' novel Two Old Women (1993). The chapter concludes by pointing out how the changes in genre affect the depiction of old age.

Part III analyzes several representations of old age in modern literature. Chapter 7 is concerned with a discussion of representations of old people as tricksters. I will analyze the figure of Nanapush in Louise Erdrich's novels Tracks (1988), The Last Report on the Miracle at Little No Horse (2001), and Four Souls (2004), as well as James Welch's novel Winter in the Blood (1974) and his poem "In My Lifetime" (1971). I will conclude with a discussion of the character of Big Mom in Sherman Alexie's novel Reservation Blues (1995).

Chapter 8 is dedicated to depictions of old people as relatives, and will introduce the puer-senex paradigm. The discussion centers again on James Welch's novel Winter in the Blood (1974), followed by a reading of his poem "Grandfather at the Rest Home" (1971). I will then proceed to an analysis of Janet Campbell Hale's short story "Claire" (1999), Sherman Alexie's short story "One Good Man" (2000), James Welch's novel The Death of Jim Loney (1979), and three poems by Chrystos (1991, 1995).

Chapter 9 opens with a discussion of memory and loneliness at the examples of N. Scott Momaday's poem "Plainview 2" (1976) and his novel House Made of Dawn (1966), and Sherman Alexie's short story "Dear John Wayne" (2000). I continue with an analysis of three poems by Sherman Alexie (1992, 2000) and his short story "Wardances" (2009). I conclude with a discussion of poems by Chrystos (1995), and Luci Tapahonso (1987).

Part IV brings the study to a close. After the analysis of a poem by Simon Ortiz (1992), I provide a concluding discussion of the changes of the role of the old in the representations discussed, including reflections on spectrality, utopian conceptions of old age, and the role of tradition.

Any selection of source texts is, of course, highly idiosyncratic. I am hoping that by having chosen texts by a wide variety of authors throughout several decades, and by contrasting them with traditional stories, I can provide a representative sample of texts that effectively supports the argument developed in this study.