Department or Program



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.

Level of Access

Open Access

First Advisor

Osucha, Eden

Date of Graduation

Spring 5-2016

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts

Number of Pages


Components of Thesis

1 pdf file

Open Access

Available to all.