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Thesis Defence: Questions of Perspective in Eden Robinson’s Monkey Beach: Learning with Story and Spirituality in Indigenous Fiction

April 24 at 1:00 pm - 5:00 pm

Zach DeWitt will defend their thesis.

Zach DeWitt, supervised by Dr. Jodey Castricano, will defend their thesis titled “Questions of Perspective in Eden Robinson’s Monkey Beach: Learning with Story and Spirituality in Indigenous Fiction” in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Arts in English.

An abstract for Zach DeWitt’s thesis is included below.

Defences are open to all members of the campus community as well as the general public. Registration is not required for in person defences.


There exists, within Indigenous theory and literary scholarship, a simultaneous belief in
the educative power of Indigenous fictions for settler readers and the assertion that it may well be
impossible for a settler reader to ever understand Indigenous culture within its cultural context. A
myriad of tensions arise between these competing worldviews — those related to questions of
differing epistemologies, the legacy of colonization, and the continued integrity and survival of
Indigenous knowledge. In analyzing Haisla and Heiltsuk author Eden Robinson’s Monkey Beach,
this thesis attempts to step through some of these tensions by looking at Indigenous story as an
expression of relational and responsive theory, rather than as a cultural object. I argue that Monkey
Beach offers us a unique confrontation with the tensions that many settler readers experience when
they read, even as it asks us to move beyond them, in an effort to narrate Indigenous survival.
Following from the work of Indigenous theorists and scholars, I argue first that the novel is
interested in the education of both its main character and the reader, before turning to a reading of
the pedagogical affect of spirituality in the novel. I show that explicit engagement with the novel’s
spiritual themes not only represents an underexplored aspect of Monkey Beach, but also that
discussions of spirituality help us engage with questions of epistemology and tensions in
perspective. More specifically, this thesis takes seriously the reality of spiritual forces in Monkey
Beach, and how the signification of those forces shapes the perspectives along which they can be
understood. In forwarding this argument, I propose that attention to spiritual matters — and more
specifically, the way that story is cosmological — helps us attend to Indigenous survival and offers
us a different perspective through which settler readers respond to Indigenous fiction.


April 24
1:00 pm - 5:00 pm


Arts Building (ART)
1147 Research Road
Kelowna, BC V1V 1V7 Canada
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Additional Info

Room Number
Registration/RSVP Required
Event Type
Thesis Defence
Arts and Humanities, Culture and Diversity, Indigenous, Research and Innovation
Alumni, Community, Faculty, Staff, Families, Partners and Industry, Students, Postdoctoral Fellows and Research Associates