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Steven Hoelscher, Chair Burdine 437, Mailcode B7100, Austin, TX 78712 • 512-471-7277

Spring 2008

AMS 311S • American Indians in Pop Culture-W

Unique Days Time Location Instructor
29755 M
5:00 PM-8:00 PM
bio 301

Course Description

Too often, Americans are presented with fabricated and offensive images of American Indians in film, sports, art, and literature. We are rarely asked to explore the contributions of American Indians themselves to U.S. popular culture. This course focuses on American Indians' autonomous roles in popular culture. How did (and do) Native icons represent themselves? How did they expect to be received by their audiences? By placing the stories, words, and actions of figures such as Pocahontas, Geronimo, Sitting Bull, Black Elk, and others at the center of our analysis, we will see both the ways American Indians empower themselves within U.S. popular culture and the methods by which their words and actions are at times ignored or manipulated to suit the dominant cultures needs.

While the course's focus is on American Indians, it will be clear by the end that American Indian issues are central to the ways American cultural history functions at large. We will interrogate why certain images and actions are remembered while others are forgotten through a combination of representation, nostalgia, and selective consideration. By working to understand U.S. popular culture from an American Indian perspective, students will better appreciate the complexities of mass culture in general, especially the ways audience consumption and appeal perhaps alters the intentions of the creator.

Grading Policy

5-6-page Research Profile (30%) Take-Home Mid-Term Exam (25%) Take-Home Final Exam (25%) Homework, Quizzes, Attendance, and In-Class Participation (20%)


1. Deloria, Philip. Indians in Unexpected Places. 2. Course reader. The reader will include primary testaments by and scholarly considerations of popular Native figures, including Sitting Bull, Will Rogers, Jay Silverheels (Tonto), Zitkala-Sa, Pocahontas, and Sherman Alexie. 3. Films. Throughout the semester we will watch part or all of several films, including The Lone Ranger, The Searchers, Pocahontas, Nanook of the North, The Ropin' Fool, Smoke Signals and The Fast Runner.


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