E 395M • 20th Cent. Native American Lit
9:30 AM-11:00 AM
This course is an introduction to the vast field of twentieth century Native American literature. We will study the literary, intellectual, and political concerns that twentieth century Native writers most frequently discuss, and we will rigorously devote ourselves to the study of the works on the syllabus from within the contexts of the primary cultures and the pan-Indian literary, intellectual, and political movements that form and inform their production. The specific preoccupations of Native writers, in fact, will provide us with the theoretical terms that we will put into critical practice: land, family, community, memory, blood, identity, and sovereignty, for example. The development of this Native theoretical framework, which will continue throughout the semester as we discuss the representative works on the reading list, helps to situate our goals in the class within the context of some of the most pressing concerns in contemporary Native literary studies: defining the distinctive features of a Native American literature canon, mapping the interactions between Native literatures and dominant non-Native literary traditions, and discussing and often challenging the application of non-Native theoretical frameworks (postmodernism, feminism, postcolonialism, borderlands studies, ecocriticism, Western American regional studies) to Native literatures. Our discussions of and readings about the following topics will guide you beyond our reading list and more deeply into the field: Native autobiography, boarding schools, Native activism, land loss (or land theft), cultural devastation, Native military service, termination and relocation, the representation of Native people in canonical American literary traditions and popular culture, the influence of oral storytelling traditions (both sacred and secular) on written traditions, and the prominent political, social, and spiritual roles that Native women have in many Native cultures.
Primary Texts in order of date of production or original copyright
Zitkala-Sa (Gertrude Bonnin). 1901, 1920. American Indian Stories, Legends, and Other Writings. New York: Penguin, 2003.
McNickle, D'Arcy. The Surrounded. 1936. Albuquerque: Univ. of New Mexico Press, 1978.
Deloria, Ella. Waterlily. MS. completed in 1954. Lincoln: Univ. of Nebraska Press, 1988.
Momaday, N. Scott. House Made of Dawn. New York: Harper and Row, 1968.
Silko, Leslie Marmon. Ceremony. New York: Penguin, 1977.
Ortiz, Simon. from Sand Creek. Tucson: Univ. of Arizona Press, 1981.
Erdrich, Louise. Tracks. New York: Harper and Row, 1988.
[students who have read Tracks will be encouraged to read Four Souls, 2004]
King, Thomas. Green Grass, Running Water. New York: Bantam, 1993.
Power, Susan. The Grass Dancer. New York: Berkley, 1994.
Alexie, Sherman. Reservation Blues. New York: Warner, 1995.
Secondary Texs: see professor for full list.