This course offers an introduction to the interdisciplinary field of Native American and First Nations Studies, with an emphasis on literature, and some visual art and film as important inroads into various crucial themes. You will explore the history of North American Indians in the US and Canada from the earliest moments of contact to the present. Against this background of settler colonialism, you will study native peoples’s efforts to preserve and reclaim a lost and threatened cultural and political standing. Throughout the course, we will engage in various case studies to explore themes like contact, settler colonialism, historiography, identity, sovereignty, trauma, survival and revival. We will also analyze and discuss a variety of modes of literary and visual representations of "Indians" in non-native North American culture, and explore the ways (stereotypical and otherwise) in which "the Indian" has functioned in non-native culture and consciousness. Authors to be discussed include: Pauline Johnson, Zitkala-Sa, Louise Erdrich, Leslie Marmon Silko, Thomson Highway, Sherman Alexie, Joy Harjo, Thomas King, Layla Long Soldier, and Tommy Orange.
At the end of the course, the student
- Has gained an understanding of the history of the colonization of indigenous peoples in North America and its historiography.
- Has gained introductory insight into settler colonialism as a critical paradigm from which to address colonial history.
- Has learned to critically assess the ways in which historical and political experiences have shaped and determined the cultural expressions of indigenous peoples in North America, and how indigenous peoples have resisted these pressures;
- is able to critically analyze and discuss different modes of literary and artistic representations of indigenous peoples by both indigenous and non-indigenous people, and their cultural and political implications.