ENG 302: Native American Literature


Dr. Henigman 3 credits

          From Hollywood westerns to children “playing Indian”, American Indians loom large in the American imagination.  But the images pop culture gives us are little more than stereotypes:  humorous or ineffective sidekicks; savages, whether violent or noble; and overall, a tragic and disappearing race, inarticulate, silent, absent from modern American life.

          However, Native American people have not vanished and have never been silent. Throughout the centuries in which they’ve been in contact with American newcomers, they have been writing to respond to these distorting images and assert their own sovereignty. 

          This semester we will study these writings by indigenous American people from various tribal groups.  We will examine the variety of literacies available to them; the ways in which they have engaged with settler culture and literary forms; and the various genres (as-told-to stories and other autobiographical forms, novels, treaties and treaty speeches, and other experimental forms) that they have employed to represent personal and national identity and experience.    Along the way, we will need to learn about the political history and cultural practices of America’s First Peoples, about how they have respond to changing US government policies and actions, and the varying strategies, at once realistic and principled (revitalization movements, the creation of an “Indian public sphere”, and others) they employ to ensure their survivance as Indian nations.   Writers may include William Apess, Black Hawk, Samson Occom, Sarah Winnemucca Hopkins, Zitkala-Sa, D’Arcy McNickle, Louise Erdrich, and Sherman Alexie.

          This course will count for “Genre and Theory,” “Alternative Canons” or “Identity,  Diversity, Power.”

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