English 9176A

Indigenous Literatures: Cultures of Storytelling, Cultures of Reading

Instructor: Professor P. Wakeham.
Fall Half Course.

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 will examine both the specificity and remarkable breadth of Indigenous cultures of storytelling as well as the scholarly 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 and the interventions of Indigenous intellectuals have prompted the development of alternative methods of reading and scholarly engagement that are respectful of and informed by Indigenous epistemologies and lifeways. Through engagement with a range of genres, methodologies, and critical debates, the course will consider the following questions: How does Indigenous cultural production conceptualize and practice diverse forms of storytelling? How might literary studies be re-imagined in relation to the specificity of Indigenous intellectual and cultural production? What kinds of practices of reading and literary analysis enable reflexivity about the cultural lenses each scholar brings to the study of Indigenous literature and, in turn, prompts more ethical forms of engagement with Indigenous thought and art?