This Is AuburnElectronic Theses and Dissertations

Conversations in Story(ality)




Morris, Amanda

Type of Degree





In this dissertation, I introduce and define my new term, story(ality), which requires refocused attention on the truths available through nonfiction stories told, written, and performed in a contact zone, which is a social space where cultures meet, clash, and grapple with each other. All of the texts used in this dissertation exist in contact zones and are either true nonfiction experiential tales or pretend to be, and all of these texts have the potential to alter the recipient’s perception of reality and truth. The project begins with the problematic text Stiya: A Carlisle Indian Girl at Home, a text that pretends to represent truth and reality, then the dissertation moves on into the 21st century to an examination of Native American story practitioners in two non-academic fields: stand-up comedy and web design, and then concludes with a review of helping students use rhetorical sovereignty in a basic composition class to learn more about their own stories and understand their own truths and realities from a new perspective. Further, through analysis of written and digital texts, performances, interviews, and student writing, I explore how Native peoples construct their identities for both Native and non-Native audiences. I complicate these constructions by considering how a white woman’s version of Native identity can be equally influential for the right audience compared to the identities constructed by Native individuals, as well as suggesting how effectively contemporary Native story practitioners achieve cross-cultural understanding in different genres. In addition, I also propose that the Native American experiential theory of rhetorical sovereignty has the potential to help students construct and control their own identities and stories. My goal is to obtain a deeper understanding of the rhetorical choices in the nonfiction stories of contemporary Native intellectuals as they use story (written, verbal, performed), memory, and technology to construct identity and create alliances across multiple communities. Ultimately, this dissertation connects the humor of stand-up comedians, the technological storytelling capability of a sovereign tribal nation, and rhetorical skills of different Native story practitioners. To connect these diverse groups, I examine their communication methods through the lens of story(ality) and the complicated issue of control. Consequently, this dissertation offers the fields of Native American Studies and Composition and Rhetoric a new term that privileges story, storytellers of nonfiction experience, and changing perceptions of reality. Finally, I call for a more critical engagement with Native American nonfiction works in the composition classroom as a more effective method for students to learn more fruitfully and completely about their own stories.