At the end of the course, the student has
- gained an advanced understanding of the history, literature and politics of indigenous peoples in North America from a comparative perspective;
- 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;
- gained insight into the phenomenon of the border as it pertains to North American Indians;
- is able to critically analyze and discuss different modes of literary and artistic representations of indigenous peoples in North American (popular) culture and their cultural and political implications.
This course offers an introduction to the interdisciplinary field of Native American and First|
Nations Studies, with an emphasis on contemporary native literatures. We will explore the history of North American Indians in the US and Canada from the earliest moments of "contact" to the present and study the struggles of native peoples to preserve and reclaim a lost or vanishing culture and
political standing. Against this background we will analyze and discuss a variety of modes of literary and visual representations of "Indians" in both native and non-native North American writing, and explore the ways (stereotypical and otherwise) in which "the Indian" has functioned in non-native culture and consciousness. We will also study initiatives by Native and First Nations artists and writers to address distorted perceptions and stereotypes, both in literature and popular culture. Finally, border studies will be introduced as a field from which North American Indian issues can be addressed, specifically the border between the United States and Canada and the border as a dividing line between reservations and state land. Authors to be discussed may include: Scott Momaday, James Welch, Louise Erdrich, Leslie Marmon Silko, Sherman Alexie, Linda Hogan, Joy Harjo, Tomson Highway, Thomas King, LeAnne Howe and Joseph Boyden.