Ancient, old, middle, and modern are relative terms that have taken on specific meanings in medieval, literary, and linguistic studies. Similarly, the terms pagan and civilized have been applied to world literature in ways that assume an evolutionary trajectory of humanity and the superiority of the present. This poem attempts to destabilize these assumptions by offering a reading of two pre-Christian heroes whose stories are both related to parts of the Northern Hemisphere where the land and a source of freshwater have inspired ceremony for many centuries. Irish Cu Chulain1 and Ojibwe Wenabozho2 invite a form of Socratic anamnesis that is much more than ethnographic or anthropologic nostalgia. In these stories, humans are reminded of the elemental knowledge contained in certain places and the power of relational narratives to recontextualize life on earth. Both characters trace their narrative origin to oral stories kept by communal...
Ondaadiziwag Cu Cunainn Miinawaa Wenabozho/The Births of Cu Culainn and Wenabozho
margaret noodin is professor of English and American Indian studies at the University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee, where she also serves as director of the Electa Quinney Institute for American Indian Education and a scholar in the Center for Water Policy. She is author of Bawaajimo: A Dialect of Dreams in Anishinaabe Language and Literature (2014) and two bilingual collections of poetry, Weweni (2015) and Gijigijigikendan: What the Chickadee Knows (forthcoming). She is cocreator of www.ojibwe.net.
Ozhibii’aan Giiwedinoodin/Margaret Noodin; Ondaadiziwag Cu Cunainn Miinawaa Wenabozho/The Births of Cu Culainn and Wenabozho. English Language Notes 1 October 2020; 58 (2): 18–20. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/00138282-8557789
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