E370/570: Native American Women Writers

Schedule, Fall 2008

Course Description

Course Policies

* Scholarly book reviews are due the week after you present.
* You must do five response papers this semester, on any of the texts. Response papers are due on the day the text is discussed in class.
* You may turn any assignment in early if you wish.

NB: If you have never taken a course in Native American studies, you should read the first chapter of Thomas King's The Truth About Stories for the first class; it's available on D2L under Content - Readings. Also, look at the additional texts and choose one for your presentation.

Important Note: This syllabus is subject to change. The most updated version is the version available electronically via D2L or at http://www.english.uwosh.edu/schachtm/2008/fall/370syll.html.

Sep. 8
Lecture: Background: American Indian history, women’s history.
In-Class Discussion/Writing: Read Devon Mihesuah, “A Few Cautions on the Merging of Feminist Studies with Indigenous Women’s Studies,” Indigenous American Women pp. 3-8. What do we need to consider as we approach texts by and about Native women?
Reading for next week: Mihesuah, “Colonialism and Disempowerment” (41-61); and the following readings available on D2L: "Traditional Narratives and Songs" (from Kilcup, ed., Native American Women’s Writing, 1800-1924); Paula Gunn Allen, "Introduction" and "The Ways of our Grandmothers" (from The Sacred Hoop)

Sep. 15
Lecture: Patriarchy, matriarchy, and other gendered social structures in American Indian history.
In-Class Discussion/Writing: relationship between traditional stories, historical context, and the text you’ve read for today. Importance of tradition; impact of colonialism; impact of gender role constructions.
Film: A Season of Grandmothers (30 min)
Reading for next week: Section 1 of Sister Nations, “Changing Woman” (3-64); and the following readings available on D2L: Karen Kilcup, "Writing the 'Red Woman's America'"; Jane Johnson Schoolcraft, "Traditional Narratives." 

Sep. 22
Presentations: Student presentations: Legends of Vancouver, Coyote Stories, Old Indian Legends
Lecture: Tribal specificity, Native storytelling traditions, and Indigenous literatures.
In-Class Discussion/Writing: Discuss readings; relation of traditional and contemporary literature; constructing identities.
Reading for next week: Green, “Taking Account of Indigenous Feminism” (Making Space… 20-32), and section four of Sister Nations, “In the Arms of the Skies” (151-196).

Sep. 29
Presentations: Student presentations: Indian School Days, Cogewea
Lecture: Background: Feminist theory, Indigenous nationalism; Indigenous, Third World and African American feminist critiques of mainstream feminist theory.
In-Class Discussion/Writing: Contact and fault lines between feminism and Indigenism in the texts you have read for this week. Representation of sexism as a colonialist product and/or sexism as part of Native culture.
Film: Winnebago Women: Songs and Stories (20 min)
Reading for next week: Brant, A Gathering of Spirit (selections); St.-Denis, “Feminism is for Everybody” (Making Space… 33-51).

Oct. 6
Presentations: Star Quilt, A Snake in her Mouth
In-Class Discussion/Writing: How does Gathering of Spirit represent Native women? What do the anthology’s structure, the included texts, and the overall presentation reveal? Discuss specific selections from the text in relation to previously discussed issues of feminism and Indigenism, tradition and colonialism.
Lecture:Two-Spirit identities: Contemporary and historical interpretations of Two-Spirit gender and/or sexual identity. 
Reading for next week: Stewart-Harawira, “Practising Indigenous Feminism” (Making Space… 124-139); Bear, “Culturing Politics and Politicizing Culture” (Making Space… 199-215); Mihesuah, “Review of Ian Frazier’s On the Rez” pp. 14-20, “Feminists, Tribalists or Activists?” pp. 159-171;

Oct. 13
Presentations: Waterlily, Shellshaker
In-Class Discussion/Writing: Intersections of race and gender. How communities respond to multiple oppressions. How literature responds to these issues.
Lecture: Indigenous feminism(s) and how it/they affect how we approach creative texts.
Reading for next week: Smith, “Native American Sovereignty, Feminism, and Social Change” (Making Space… 93-107); Washburn, Elsie’s Business pp. 1-99 (through Ch. 12).

Oct. 20
Presentations: Love Medicine, Grass Dancer
Lecture:Background: Elsie’s Business and Lakota traditions.
In-Class Discussion/Writing: Genre expectations; narrative strategies of Elsie’s Business; magical realism/tribal verism.
Reading for next week: Finish Elsie’s Business. Mihesuah, “Writing About Anna Mae Pictou Aquash” pp. 9-13, “1970s Activist Anna Mae Pictou Aquash” pp. 115-127.

Oct. 27
Lecture:Background:Violence against Native American women.
In-Class Discussion/Writing: What does violence against women mean? What role does violence play in Elsie’s Business? How are race, gender and class portrayed in the novel?
Film: Begin Spirit of Annie Mae (73 min)
Reading for next week: Beads/Kuokkanen, “Aboriginal Feminist Action on Violence Against Women” (Making Space… 221-232),

Nov. 3
Presentation: Indian Trains
Lecture: Women in/and the American Indian Civil Rights movement.
In-Class Discussion/Writing: Approaching the story of Anna Mae Pictou Aquash.
Film: Finish Spirit of Annie Mae
Reading for next week: Sister Nations Section 2, “Strong Hearts” (65-106); Mihesuah, “Culturalism and Racism at the Cherokee Female Seminary” (62-80). Please turn in two discussion questions on the reading by e-mail by 10 pm Sunday.  

Nov. 10
Presentations: A Chief and Her People, No Parole Today, Blue Horses Rush In
Lecture:Historical trauma and its lasting effects: Boarding schools and assimilation. 
In-Class Discussion/Writing: Literary responses to assimilationism. Introduce final paper assignment.
Reading for next week: Monkey Beach part 1 (1-138); Mihesuah, “Finding a Modern American Indigenous Female Identity” (81-112). Please turn in two discussion questions on the reading by e-mail by 10 pm Sunday.

Nov. 17
Presentations: Half-Breed, Absentee Indians and Other Poems, Bloodlines/Decolonizing Methodologies, The Sacred Hoop
Lecture/Discussion: Political and literary constructions of Native American identities Representations and constructions of Native and female identities. Narrative strategies of Monkey Beach. Issues of nationality.
Reading for next week: Monkey Beach part 2 (139-294). Please turn in two discussion questions on the reading by e-mail by 10 pm Sunday.

Nov. 24
Presentations: Blue Horses for Navajo Women, Two Old Women, Slash, Mohawk Trail
Lecture: First Nations issues in Canada; generational differences in Native communities.
In-Class Discussion/Writing: Analysis of Monkey Beach and its relationship to issues previously discussed.
Reading for next week: Finish Monkey Beach. Please turn in two discussion questions on the reading by e-mail by 10 pm Sunday.

Dec. 1
Presentations: A Map to the Next World, From A Native Daughter, Storyteller, Mean Spirit
In-Class Discussion/Writing: Role of popular culture in Monkey Beach; music, culture, and literature.
For next week: Work on final paper.

Dec. 8
Final presentations (synopsis of final paper or service learning project)
Exam if class average on quizzes is below 85%; otherwise TBA.
Final paper due.


This schedule is subject to change.


Updated 5. Nov. 2008