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Contemporary American Indian Literatures

ENGL 799.301
instructor(s):
W 3-6

This course focuses on U.S. American Indian and Canadian First Nations written literatures published since N. Scott Momaday won the Pulitzer Prize for House Made of Dawn in 1969. The subsequent increase in published literatures by Native writers was hailed by many in publishing and academia as the "Native American Literary Renaissance." This deeply problematic tag engaged developmental models that hankered after happy literary progress and the birth of a supposedly new Indian voice, unhitched from ugly histories of genocidal silencing. Under the "renaissance" model, new Native literatures were characterized as realist portraits of the Indian "condition," themselves marking progress out of that condition. This course engages the ways in which contemporary Indian literatures and theories instead insist upon fluid, complicated and interpenetrating notions of past and future in the project of reanimating, rewriting, and sometimes altering or rejecting Indian histories. We will focus on texts that recall, divert or rewrite dispersal and genocide and engage alternate understandings of futurity and survival, and on writers and critics who theorize cyclical teleologies and notions of return, repetition, haunting and reenactment and who reach toward actively unrecognizable futures. Central to this course will be a wide range of contemporary literary and cultural theory about nation, sovereignty, indigeneity, cultural memory, ethnicity, futurity and survival. We will engage texts and criticism by Sherman Alexie, Chadwick Allen, Beth Brandt, Eric Cheyfitz, Philip Deloria, Vine Deloria, Louise Erdrich, Eva Marie Garroutte, Diane Glancy, Joy Harjo, Tomson Highway, Linda Hogan, Thomas King, Deborah Miranda, David Murray, Kathryn Shanley, Leslie Marmon Silko, Spiderwoman Theater, Gerald Vizenor, Robert Warrior, Jace Weaver, James Welch and Craig Womack, among others.