The article considers the political impact of the historical novel by examining an example of the genre by Native American novelist James Welch. It discusses how the novel Fools Crow represents nineteenth-century Blackfeet experience, emphasizing how (retelling) the past can act in the present. To do this it engages with psychoanalytic readings of historical novels and the work of Foucault and Benjamin on memory and history. The article concludes by using Bhabha's notion of the “projective past” to understand the political strength of the novel's retelling of the story of a massacre of Native Americans.
Sarah Martin is an independent scholar based in Bristol. She completed a Ph.D. on Native American writing at Goldsmiths College in 2004.