ENG 244: Introduction to Native American Literatures

CRN 12080
Tuesday & Thursday 1200-1320
102 PETR
Instructor – Kirby Brown, kbrown@uoregon.edu

Course Description

In 1968, Kiowa writer N. Scott Momaday’s House Made of Dawn was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for American literature. Momaday’s award signaled for many the “arrival” of Native authors to the American literary scene, and ushered in an unprecedented era of Native literary production widely known as the Native American Renaissance. While the explosion of Native writing and the critical tradition that emerged from it carved out much needed cultural and institutional spaces for Native self-representation and Native literary studies, it had the unintended effect of privileging contemporary Native novels over writing from other periods and across a variety of genres and forms. This introductory survey of Native American literature widens the net to include an array of native self-representation across genres, regions, periods, forms and tribal nations. We will read cultural critiques and policy debates alongside short stories and novels, as well as juxtapose drama and short films alongside YouTube videos, op-eds, and other media.

Learning Outcomes

Situate conventional literary texts alongside other cultural forms in which Native peoples have exercised self-representation, always being careful to locate writers and texts within their appropriate historical and tribal/cultural contexts.
Gain a more complicated understanding of and appreciation for the diversity and complexity of Native American intellectual and cultural production.
Develop a historically-nuanced grasp of some of the major issues, questions, and concerns that run throughout Indian Country today, specifically the relationship between cultural production, federal policies, and contemporary movements toward Native sovereignty and self-determination.
Consistently work to hone close, critical reading skills applicable to a variety of textual forms and intellectual/professional contexts
Develop capacities to engage in thoughtful, critical debate around questions of race, class, gender, sexuality, nation, citizenship, and belonging.
Required Texts

Thomas King (Cherokee), The Truth About Stories: A Native Narrative.

Leann Howe (Choctaw), The Miko Kings: An Indian Baseball Story.

Sherman Alexie (Coeur d’Alene), The Toughest Indian in the World. (TIIW)

Devon Mihesuah (Choctaw), American Indians: Stereotype and Realities (AISR)

Other readings, videos, and music via Canvas