Angela Calcaterra specializes in Indigenous North American Literatures, the history of US settler colonialism, and early American studies. Her research and teaching focus on long, capacious histories of Native literature, seeking to expand our understanding of deeply rooted and evolving Indigenous literary, aesthetic, and material practices beyond traditional sites of literary inquiry. She aims to contribute to broad understanding of the vital place of Indigenous literatures, lands, communities, and knowledge in American literary history, and her work investigates how reading across Indigenous thought, literatures, and artistic practices makes visible the operations and equipment of settler discourse and practice. Her first book, Literary Indians: Aesthetics and Encounter in American Literature to 1920 (University of North Carolina Press, 2018), seeks to reorient American literary history to accommodate Indigenous temporalities, forms of creative representation, and geographies. It calls for more attention to the depth and pervasiveness of Native aesthetic practices in early and 19th century America, practices that draw our attention to key philosophical approaches to art and literature that served Indigenous kin networks and political collectives. It also charts how white settler literatures consistently erase their dependence on Indigenous homelands and intellectual and aesthetic traditions.
Her scholarly articles have appeared in PMLA, Early American Literature, Studies in American Indian Literatures, and A Question of Time: American Literature from Colonial Encounter to Contemporary Fiction, edited by Cindy Weinstein (Cambridge University Press, 2018). Most recently, she published an article on Osage and Omaha literatures of the North American mid-continent in The Routledge Handbook to North American Indigenous Modernisms (2022), edited by Kirby Brown, Stephen Ross, and Alana Sayers, and she co-edited with Chris Pexa and Eric Gary Anderson a special issue of Studies in the Novel on Indigenous Young Adult Novels. She is currently working on her second book project, titled Bearing Arms: US Gun Violence and Indigenous Relationality. The book is a literary and cultural archaeology of American gun violence focused on settler colonialism and Indigenous perspectives on weapons technologies; it investigates Indigenous uses of guns and analysis of gun violence in the context of Indigenous theories of relations and responsibilities, considering how such perspectives predate and consistently challenge settler colonial logics surrounding gun ownership in the United States. Research for this project was recently supported by a 2022-2023 year-long NEH fellowship, as well as by residential fellowships at the Huntington Library and the Newberry Library.