E 395M • AMERICAN INDIAN LITERATURE: ROOTS OF THE TRADITION
11:00 AM-12:30 PM
This course offers an introduction to earlier American Indian literature, as well as to American Indian literary criticism. The publication of Kiowa author M. Scott Momadays House Made of Dawn in 1967 and its 1969 reception of the Pulitzer Prize mark for most scholars the modern beginnings of Native American literature. Although Momaday marks a groundbreaking moment of recognition for American Indian literature, it is important to know that American Indians were writing and publishing original fiction, non-fiction, and poetry for more than two hundred years before him. We will survey American Indian literature from its beginnings in tribal oral traditions and colonial documents through the eras of Indian Removal, the Dawes Act, and the Red Progressive movement. Alongside the historical literature, we will also read major works in contemporary Native American literary and cultural criticism which can help us develop a sense of the tradition, its generic contours, contextual determinants, political concerns, and theoretical preoccupations. Graduate students new to American Indian literature are welcome in this course. The historical periods and subjects we survey will be generally useful to students of early American literature, 19th and early 20th century American literature, colonialism and postcolonialism, and race and gender in the Americas. We will begin by orienting ourselves to major contemporary works of American Indian literary criticism by Paula Gunn Allen (Laguna Pueblo), Greg Sarris (Pomo/Miwok), Gerald Vizenor (Ojibwe), Robert Warrior (Osage), and Jace Weaver (Cherokee). Our major course of study includes primary texts from North American tribal oral traditions, early Native documents including treaties and petitions, colonial-era Nahuatl writings, and letters, narratives, poems, novels and stories by Samson Occom (Mohegan), Joseph Johnson (Mohegan), William Apess (Pequot), John Rollin Ridge (Cherokee), Sarah Winnemucca (Paiute), Alice Callahan (Creek), Emily Pauline Johnson (Mohawk), Francis LaFlesche (Omaha), Charles Eastman / Ohiyesa (Santee Sioux), and Alexander Posey (Creek).