Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Communication and Rhetorical Studies


Charles Morris III


decoloniality;Indigenous art;landscape;settler sublime;visual culture

Subject Categories

Arts and Humanities | Rhetoric and Composition


In this thesis I investigate mimetic Indigenous artwork as a productive site of settler colonial disruption. More specifically, I attend to the potential of these artworks to disorient romantic habits of viewing landscapes. Framed as a critique of settler logics, I argue that the underlying ideologies of Euro-American romantic landscape art have tracked from the 19th-century to today to produce an illusory, aestheticized view of nature as grand and empty, distancing settlers from the material realities of land use and the violence of settler colonialism. In a contributory attempt to decolonize settler understandings of and relations to land, I look to artworks by Indigenous artists Kent Monkman and Nicholas Galanin as examples of subversive critique, claiming that through mimetic, intertextual techniques, their works strategically engage with settler colonial systems as a challenge to romantic settler land relations, prompting new engagement with memory, land, and place. Using decolonial studies and visual rhetoric as centralizing frameworks, I constellate concepts such as détournement (Debord, 1959), moral shock (Jasper, 1997) and settler common sense (Rifkin, 2013) to highlight the ways that these artworks disrupt settler land logics and work to fracture the “settler sublime.” This thesis ultimately advocates for a critical rupture in romantic conceptions of land; while mimetic Indigenous artworks may not constitute a paradigm shift on their own, they actively work to dismantle settler ideologies, creating space for Indigenous epistemologies to emerge.


Open Access



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