L364 4901 NATIVE AMERICAN LITERATURE
2:30p-3:45p TR (30 students) 3 cr., A&H, Culture Studies List A.
English L364 will concern itself primarily with prose by contemporary Native Americans, although we will start with the classic collaborative (auto)biography Black Elk Speaks, which we will treat as an example of traditional literature. This course will be organized around several contrasts which we will try to address throughout, including those between Native American literature and other kinds of literature being created in America today, between writing by men and writing by women, and between the ways literature is regarded in the dominant Euro-American society and Native American societies. Thus we will be looking at the structure of the various literatures, their place in their respective cultures, and the remarkable continuity of traditional values and concerns into contemporary novels, most of which written by people who speak only English and who are writing in a genre (extended prose fiction) that was not found in any Native American culture before the period of contact with Europeans.
While the precise contents of the course has yet to be fixed (most texts will be in tradebook editions, notorious for going out of print), we will surely consider the major writers in the field, such as Louise Erdrich, Leslie Silko, N. Scott Momaday, James Welsh, Michael Dorris, Paula Gunn Allen, Linda Hogan, and Gerald Vizenor. The class will be divided into small groups, and each group will be responsible for organizing the discussion of probably two books each, a system which allows you some direct "hands-on" experience both with textual criticism and the means of presenting a text to others. You will write two or three papers, all of which you will be encouraged to revise and resubmit. There should be two examinations, a midterm and a final. I expect to complete the selection of texts by late November and you can obtain a list of the books from me then.