English 9161

Indigenous Literatures: Cultures of Storytelling, Cultures of Reading

Instructor: Professor Pauline Wakeham
Full course, Summer 2018.

As a graduate-level survey of Indigenous literary and intellectual traditions and innovations, this course will consider diverse practices of Indigenous storytelling including “orature,” poetry, short stories, novels, drama, non-fiction writing, and film. With a particular focus on Indigenous cultural production across Turtle Island (or North America), the course examines both the specificity and remarkable breadth of Indigenous cultures of storytelling as well as the cultures of reading that have developed in response to these practices. In other words, the course explores how the work of reading and literary-critical interpretation is shaped by cultural perspectives—often those of Western academia—and how practices of Indigenous storytelling may prompt the development of alternative reading methods more attentive to Indigenous epistemologies and lifeways. Through engagement with a range of genres, methodologies, and critical debates, the course will consider the following questions: How do Indigenous authors and intellectuals conceptualize practices of storytelling? How might literary studies be re-imagined in relation to the specificity of Indigenous intellectual and cultural production? What kinds of reading practices enable attention to the particularities of distinct Indigenous cultures as well as global influences and exchanges?