• Letters as literature: semantic and discursive features of irony in "Letters to Howard"

      Cook, Corinna Jo; Schneider, William; Koester, David; Ruppert, James (2011-12)
      This thesis examines the literary features of the Letters to Howard, a series of letters to the editor of the Alaskan newspaper, the Tundra Times. Published over the course of several months in 1973, the letters were signed by two semi-fictional characters: an old Eskimo man, Naugga Ciunerput, and a lost VISTA volunteer, Wally Morton, the two lone inhabitants of the imagined Land's End Village, Alaska. Naugga and Wally had a pointed agenda: they were addressing editor Howard Rock and his readership with their concerns regarding the newly-passed Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act, or ANCSA. In truth, Naugga and Wally's letters were written by two graduate students, Fred Bigjim (an Inupiaq from Nome studying education) and James Ito-Adler (a law student who had switched to anthropology). The use of irony in these letters is the subject of my analysis here; I focus first on the semantic layers of irony and second on its discursive dimensions. This thesis' ultimate goal is to illuminate the ways in which these letters contest history, frame the nature and distribution of power, and examine the myriad tensions at play between Native peoples' historic, cultural, and political ties to the land.