Date of Graduation

Spring 5-2016

Level of Access

Open Access

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts

Department or Program


Number of Pages


First Advisor

Osucha, Eden


Analyzing the novel Ceremony by Leslie Marmon Silko, according to the Laguna Pueblo tradition of place-naming reveals that place-names, geographical proper nouns, have both a representational and structural role in the novel. I outline an ethical mapping of the novel by applying the Native spiritual and epistemological world-views that construct “place” in the real world to Ceremony’s fictional world. Place-names function dialectically within the text: simultaneously narrating a fictionalized history, the narrative, and constructing a subtextual geography. The fictionalized history models a “possible place-world” in which Tayo, a Native American WWII veteran suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, is able to heal spiritually by recovering the tradition of place-naming. The subtextual geography, analyzed through Mikhail Bakhtin’s concept of “chronotope,” Franco Moretti’s mode of “distant-reading” and David Harvey’s theory of “historical-geographical materialism,” is constructed through the performativity of place-names in order to subtextually construct a fragmented place-world that does not recover alongside Tayo. I argue that through the representational and structural abilities of place-names, Ceremony models a possible state of healing for the Native American community, as a mutually reconstructive act, while simultaneously reinforcing the postcolonial reality that is oppositional to this healing.

Components of Thesis

1 pdf file

Open Access

Available to all.