Intro to Native American Literature[s]
ENGL/ETHN 245N:001

Syllabus / Schedule

--Spring 2020--
9:30-10:45 TR    ANDR 029

Last Updated: 14 March 2020

Contact InfoSyllabusSchedule
Essay #1Essay Gradesheet (PDF)MLA Tips & Template (WORD .doc)
Essay #2Correction Symbols
Course "NOTES" Page (incl. immediate assignments)

Contact Information: THOMAS C. GANNON        

OFFICE:346 Andrews Hall
MAILBOX:227 Andrews Hall
OFFICE HOURS:TU & TH, 11:00-12:00 noon, & W, 2:00-3:00 p.m.; and by appointment . . . and email, of course::::
< >
    —both also accessible via Canvas (< >)


"How can we imagine a new language when the language of the enemy keeps our dismembered tongues tied to his belt?"
  —Sherman Alexie

This course is a survey of Native American literatures, a body of texts of true diversity in both its great variety of genres and the variety of its historical & cultural contexts. The broad socio-historical scope notwithstanding, an appropriate emphasis will be placed upon the "Native American Renaissance" that began in the latter 1960's. And so representative authors will include both pre-modern shamans & "matriarchs"—AND postmodern "warriors" & tricksters: in sum, both authors who claim an essentialist difference between "white" and "red" and those who speak in terms of assimilation/simulation, "hybridity," and postmodern trickster strategies will be given their due. The selections from the Trout anthology are, at times, teasingly brief; but, with the James Welch novel and the Sherman Alexie collection, they all ask the same question, ultimately: how can one "imagine a new language when the language of the enemy" seems to inevitably render the indigenous Other culturally inarticulate? I hope you'll agree, at last, that such a "new language" is now positively, even rampantly, articulate in contemporary Native American literature(s).

Students will be expected to READ a lot, WRITE two academic essays (in addition to informal journal-esque responses), contribute enthusiastically in ORAL discussions--and perhaps THINK a little differently, by semester's end, than heretofore.

    By passing this course, you will fulfill ACE Learning Outcome 5: "Use knowledge, historical perspectives, analysis, interpretation, critical evaluation, and the standards of evidence appropriate to the humanities to address problems and issues." Your work will be evaluated by the instructor according to the specifications described in this syllabus. At the end of the term, you may be asked to provide samples of your work for ACE assessment as well. (Translation: please save all your graded written work.)
    Opportunities to achieve this outcome: Students will read a wide range of literary genres by Native authors, with the aim of analyzing, interpreting, and evaluating individual texts, and understanding these texts in their socio-political context. The knowledge and vocabulary to carry out such analyses may be delivered through class lecture and discussion, as well as the reading of secondary materials.
    Opportunities to demonstrate achievement of this outcome: Students will be asked to demonstrate their ability to analyze, interpret, and evaluate assigned texts both orally and in writing. All students will be required to write formal papers using appropriate evidence; these may take the form of close analyses of assigned texts for which quotations and concrete details from the texts themselves are the primary evidence, and/or they may take the form of analyses drawing upon research into secondary materials. Students will also be required to write shorter informal response papers and take in-class exams.


    By passing this course, you will fulfill ACE Learning Outcome 9: "Exhibit global awareness or knowledge of human diversity through analysis of an issue." Your work will be evaluated by the instructor according to the specifications described in this syllabus. At the end of the term, you may be asked to provide samples of your work for ACE assessment as well. (Translation: please save all your graded written work.)
    Opportunities to achieve this outcome: This survey course of Native American literatures will allow students to explore a wide range of texts by Native writers who have (usually) written back against the "Master's house." Students will thus critically evaluate a representative cross-section of Native American literature of different genres in a course organized around cultural, social, national, religious, and historical issues and themes, through reading, class discussion, and writing assignments that help them examine the role of these writers in history, society, and culture.
    Opportunities to demonstrate achievement of this outcome: Assignments will provide a range of opportunities for students to apply historical knowledge and literary analysis to problems and issues, especially their knowledge of human diversity, relevant to the literary texts by Native Americans under discussion. A variety of writing assignments, group activities, and class discussions are designed to require both close reading and cultural/historical analysis of literary texts. Students will have multiple opportunities to relate socio-political knowledge and learned skills of literary interpretation for the analysis of the significance of the texts, to compare them across authors and periods, to examine the diversity of the writers, and to assess their cultural and aesthetic importance.


REQUIRED TEXTS (in order of use):
  * Trout, Lawana, ed. Native American Literature: An Anthology. Lincolnwood: NTC, 1999.
        (NOTE: The text above is now out of print. All assigned readings from Trout will be available as PDFs on Canvas. However, finding a used copy from Amazon, etc., shouldn't be that difficult.)

  * Zitkala-Ša. American Indian Stories [1921]. New ed. Lincoln: Bison Books, 2003.

  * Alexie, Sherman. The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven. New York: Grove, 2005 [1993].

  * Welch, James. The Death of Jim Loney. New York: Penguin, 2008 [1979].

TEXTS "on RESERVE" (Love Library):
        • The following texts USED to be reserved for your research-essay efforts. But given the fact that most students now avail themselves of digital materials, this has become "just" a list of relevant books available at the Love. (Unless another student has already checked out that book you wanted out, of course; but this way is still a superior option, I think, given the limited check-out time allowed for reserve texts.)::::::::
        • For many more secondary sources, in PDF format, see "Files" in Canvas.
Alexie, Sherman. The Business of Fancydancing. Hanging Loose Press, 1992.
---. First Indian on the Moon. Hanging Loose Press, 1993.
---. Old Shirts & New Skins. American Indian Studies Center (UCLA), 1993.
---. One Stick Song. Hanging Loose Press, 2000.
---. Smoke Signals: Introduction, Screenplay, and Notes by Sherman Alexie. Hyperion, 1998.
---. The Summer of Black Widows. Hanging Loose Press, 1996.
---. Ten Little Indians: Stories. Grove Press, 2003.
---. The Toughest Indian in the World. Atlantic Monthly Press, 2000.
Deloria, Vine, Jr. Custer Died for Your Sins. Macmillan, 1969.
---. For This Land: Writings on Religion in America. Ed. James Treat. Routledge, 1999.
Erdrich, Louise. The Blue Jay's Dance: A Birth Year. HarperCollins, 1995.
---. Jacklight. Holt, 1984.
Gannon, Thomas C. "Native American Literary Forms." A Companion to American Literature.
        Ed. Susan Belasco et al. Wiley-Blackwell, 2020 [forthcoming]. 382-397. [Available on Canvas]
Harjo, Joy. How We Became Human: New And Selected Poems. Norton, 2002.
---. The Spiral of Memory: Interviews. Ed. Laura Coltelli. U of Michigan P, 1996.
Hogan, Linda. Calling Myself Home. Greenfield Review Press, 1978.
---. The Woman Who Watches Over the World: A Native Memoir. W. W. Norton, 2001.
Krupat, Arnold. Red Matters: Native American Studies. U of Pennsylvania P, 2002.
---. The Turn to the Native: Studies in Criticism and Culture. U of Nebraska P, 1996.
Louis, Adrian C. Among the Dog Eaters. West End Press, 1992.
---. Fire Water World. West End Press, 1989.
Momaday, N. Scott. In the Presence of the Sun. St. Martin's, 1992.
---. The Man Made of Words: Essays, Stories, Passages. St. Martin's, 1997.
Silko, Leslie Marmon. Conversations with Leslie Marmon Silko. Ed. Ellen L. Arnold. UP of Mississippi, 2000.
---. Laguna Woman: Poems [1974]. 2nd ed. Flood Plain Press, 1994.
---. Storyteller. Arcade, 1981.
---. Yellow Woman and a Beauty of the Spirit. Simon, 1996.
Swann, Brian, and Arnold Krupat, eds. I Tell You Now: Autobiographical Essays by Native American Writers.
        U of Nebraska P, 1987.  [incl. "important" biogr. essays by Hogan & Vizenor]
Welch, James. Riding the Earthboy 40: Poems. Carnegie Mellon UP, 1997.


ATTENDANCE is highly recommended, not only because you'll learn more, but because graded in-class activities may be a significant part of your final grade—and, of course, good attendance will go far in helping me determine your "Participation" points (see below). Most importantly, an inordinate number of unexcused absences (>4) will result in your final course grade being lowered by one letter grade. Also, the only way you can make up graded in-class work is if you provide documented proof of an excused absence—preferably in advance. (NOTE: official documentation for an excused absence must be provided within a week of that absence. Also, informing me after a missed class that you were sick or otherwise absent, without documentation from a doctor, coach, or Student Health, etc., does not constitute an excused absence. In other words, email me in advance that you're sicker'n'a dog, and I'll believe yu'.) Finally, if you're not here during my (either oral or silent) roll-taking, you are LATE; an inordinate number of tardies, too, will also be considered in determining your Participation points.

        • NOTE: "Pop" quizzes cannot be made up, unless you have notified me BEFORE the beginning of class that you qualify for an excused absence. If the excuse is okayed by yours truly, I will assign you a brief writing assignment regarding the reading(s) in question so that you can make up the points.


AssignmentNumber of ~PointsTotal Points
Formal Essays2250500
Informal Responses380240
Pop Quizzes820160
Total:- - - - - - - -- - - -1,000
Final Point Total -> Final Grade:
970-1,000 = A+930-969 = A900-929 = A-- - - -
870-899 = B+830-869 = B800-829 = B-- - - -
770-799 = C+730-769 = C700-729 = C-- - - -
670-699 = D+630-669 = D600-629 = D-0-599 = F

    The three informal written RESPONSES will be graded holistically, and be assigned a point total (out of 80 possible) comparable to the final-grade schema above: e.g., an A- = 72 or 73 or 74, a C = 59, 60, or 61, etc. For the formal ESSAY assignments, each component of the assignment (content, organization, and grammar/mechanics)—the detailed guidelines of which will be eventually spelled out below on this web syllabus—will be assigned a grade (translated into a point total) based upon the following rubric:
  A: "You are to be applauded for 'going beyond' most or all of the required criteria in an outstanding fashion!"    8-)
  B: "Not only did you meet the required criteria but, for at least some of these criteria, you went 'beyond the call of duty' in some noteworthy manner!"    :-D
  C: "Okay! You fulfilled the required/minimum criteria for this component!"    :-)
  D: "You failed to meet at least some of the minimum criteria for this component."    :-(
  F: "Your lack of attention to the minimum criteria for this component reveals a basic misunderstanding of the assignment and/or a lack of class attendance."    :'-{

PARTICIPATION: Oral Participation points will be allotted twice, at midterm and at semester's end, based on the quality of your contribution to at-large oral discussions of the readings and to various small-group activities involving said readings. Consider it your standing informal assignment, for each day's readings, to come to class with at least three points about the reading(s) that you could (at least potentially) bring up in discussion; these might be 1) "+'s": passages that you find especially enlightening or entertaining; 2) "-'s": occasions where you are disturbed by the reading, even to the point of irritation or anger; 3) "?'s": places in the text that you find very confusing, even incomprehensible. (You don't have to write these down, unless I'm reduced to the point of requiring it: simple annotations in the text's margins will do. Ultimately, I'm asking you to read carefully & critically, not just to go through the motions.) . . . To reinforce a previous if obvious point, attendance per se is essential to acquiring a decent point total for this component of your final grade. A less obvious point (to some previous students, apparently): coming to class without the assigned readings (texts, Canvas PDFs, etc.) is nearly as useless as not coming to class at all, and will also be noted and taken into account in determining your participation score.

        • (New) Digital Text Policy: Only dedicated eReaders (e.g., Nook, Kindle, even the iPad) are allowed as substitutes for hardcopy texts (if applicable) and PDF printouts. Accessing the material on a mobile phone is, frankly, absurd (and reveals an ad hoc unpreparedness); also, accessing course PDFs on your laptop in class says to me that you may not have read them in the first place. Finally, I'm requiring that the TROUT PDFs be printed out & brought to class, in good measure for the reasons above. Call me "old school," but experience has taught me that a digital reading (of assigned "literature," anyway) is more often than not an unreflective reading.

For "POP QUIZZES," I will simply ask you to write about the day's assigned readings for six minutes; such responses can certainly include your evaluation of the texts (liked? disliked? why?), but should above all demonstrate that you've done the reading(s) through frequent reference to textual specifics. Points will then be assigned on a holistic basis.At last, this aspect of the course serves as a simple reading check. I've only recently resorted to this evaluative measure, after over 20 years of teaching; but it's finally struck me (I'm really slow!) that some English majors are not as in love with words as I was as an undergraduate. (It's been a long, slow, painful lesson, as I've said.) . . . Ah, so I should remind you, then, to bring paper & a pen or pencil to every class meeting, especially if you're inclined to take all your notes on your laptop.

INFORMAL Written RESPONSES: Every few weeks (see schedule below), you will engage a specific group of course readings in a TWO-page (or more) written response, in reaction to (a choice of) prompts provided by your instructor. While computer print-outs are preferred, I will accept legible hand-written responses. And in contrast to the formal essays, these will be evaluated (almost) solely on CONTENT; however, egregious organizational or mechanical problems that militate against a facile understanding of said content may result in a lower score. . . . While I will eventually provide possible writing prompts (both analytical & creative) for each response before it is due, a major grading criterion is that you demonstrate that you have done the assigned readings for the time span covered. In fact, one option will always be the simple keeping of a "reading journal" in which you respond to the readings as you see fit. (Again, creative reactions are allowed, even encouraged.) Much of this may consist of brief paragraph responses to each of (or most of) the readings. I might even suggest doing these right after you read, and before class discussion, to the profit of your oral participation.

FORMAL ESSAYS: Guidelines for the formal essays will be presented later, on a detailed "handout" for each (to be available on this page, below). I will allow you several choices for each essay, to allow different personality types and learning styles to shine. While this is not a "writing" class in the strictest sense of the term, a small percentage of your essay point total will be based on yr speling, punktuashun, sentens struktures, and adherence to the MLA stylesheet. . . . NEW (2019): To save a tree or two, please upload Essay #1 and Essay #2 to CANVAS; graded (& commented-all-up in WORD) essays will later be re-uploaded to Canvas for your perusal and edification. New (2020): ditto, the three informal RESPONSES!

        DUE DATES, PAPER LENGTH, & ESSAY FORMAT:Unless special arrangements have been made, LATE written responses & essays will be docked 10% (= one letter grade) of their assigned point total for EACH DAY LATE, including all non-class days. (This includes Saturdays & Sundays. To prevent untoward accidents, save multiple copies of your work on a flash drive or cloud, etc.; and don't wait until the last minute to print out UPLOAD! that response.) . . . Because of problems in the past in this regard, all written work is due by/at the BEGINNING of the class period of the day it is due, unless otherwise specified on Canvas. If you will be absent (and EXCUSED) on a particular due date, email me a copy of your assignment by the beginning of class to demonstrate its completion; then provide me with a hard copy later, for me to grade. . . . While there is no "short" penalty per se, an assignment that obviously fails to meet the assignment's minimum length guidelines will no doubt fail to gain a goodly number of points in criterion areas such as adequate development and support. Note, too, that a page padded with margins > 1" and a font > 12 pt. type does not equal "one page." Formal essays should follow the MLA stylesheet format, including the documentation of sources via parenthetical citations and a Works Cited page (which, however, doesn't count as a "page" towards the length requirement). (See my WORD template on the SYLL page as a guide, if you're new to MLA.)

PLAGIARISM is the undocumented use of another's words or ideas as your own, whether it be an entire paper that you didn't write or an almost word-for-word "paraphrase" from an outside source. Don't do it. Not only are you cheating yourself by wasting your time and money, but plagiarism is one of the most serious of academic offenses and will result, at a bare minimum, in a score of 0 for the assignment. You may also be failed from the course and be subject to further University sanctions, as the incident warrants.

STUDENTS WITH DISABILITIES: I would like to hear from anyone who has a disability that may require some modification of seating, testing, or other class requirements so that appropriate arrangements may be made. Please talk with me before/after class or during my office hours.
        [Official SSD Statement:] Services for Students with Disabilities (SSD) provides individualized academic support for students with documented disabilities. Support services can include extended test time, textbooks and handouts in alternative formats (electronic texts, Braille, taped texts, etc), classroom notes, sign language interpreters, and transcriptionists. SSD not only accommodates students that have visible disabilities, but students with other varying types of disabilities that impact college life. If you have a documented disability that is impacting your academic progress, please call SSD at 472-3787 and schedule an appointment. If you do not have a documented disability but you are having difficulties with your coursework (such as receiving low grades even though you study more than your classmates or find you run out of time for test questions when the majority of your peers finish their exams in the allotted time), you may schedule an appointment to discuss the challenges you are experiencing.




    (—see the Course Notes page at any time for the next class's immediate assignments—)

    ** All pp.#'s refer to the Trout anthology (now PDFs), unless otherwise specified; specific pp.#'s for the Alexie & Welch books will be given later. . . .
    ** The Trout-anthology "unit" INTROS are in CAPS., as are several AUTHORS whose works are grouped together as "mini-units."

WEEK 1 (Jan. 14th, 16th):: Syllabus, course introduction (incl. Burns poem [online]); TROUT PDFs: "Historical Overview" (xvii-xxvii), "IMAGES & IDENTITIES" (1-3); Vine DELORIA, Jr. (from Custer Died For Your Sins): "Indian Humor" (654-62), "Indians Today" (7-15); Philip J. Deloria: "I Am Not a Mascot" (45-48)
    —Note again: all readings from the Trout anthology are available on Canvas, under "FILES" => "01 TROUT Anthology."

WEEK 2 (Jan. 21st, 23rd):: ESSAY #1 assignment/handout; poems by Kenny (4-6), Alexie (20-22), Erdrich (42-44), Welch (52-53), & Linda HOGAN (23-25); Hogan: "The Two Lives" (26-41); Trout: "THE SPIRIT WORLD" (75-78); Navajo Night Chant prayer: 122-24; N. Scott MOMADAY—poems: 79-80, 60-62, 580-82, 264-65

WEEK 3 (Jan. 28th, 30th):: Momaday: from The Way to Rainy Mountain (367-73); Luther Standing Bear (from My People the Sioux): "The Sun Dance" (125-33); John Fire (Lame Deer)/Erdoes (from Lame Deer: Seeker of Visions): "Alone on a Hilltop" (134-39); Hogan (from Dwellings): "All My Relations" (140-43)
    [TH: Response #1 Due]

WEEK 4 (Feb. 4th, 6th):: Trout: "CRISIS IN THE HOMELAND" (185-88); Sarah Winnemucca (from Life Among the Piutes): "Buried Alive" (236-41); Charles A. Eastman (from From the Deep Woods to Civilization): "The Ghost Dance War" (266-76); poems by Tapahonso (214-18), Glancy (232-35), & Rose (277-80); Trout: "THE REMEMBERED EARTH" (283-84); Paula Gunn Allen: "We Are the Land" (314-17)

WEEK 5 (Feb. 11th, 13th):: Leslie Marmon SILKO (from Yellow Woman and a Beauty of the Spirit): "I Still Trust the Land" (291-96); Silko poems: 300-301, 304-307 (from Storyteller); poems by Blue Cloud (308-310), Hobson (311), & Louise ERDRICH (318-320); poems by Hogan & Kenny (PDF on Canvas); Erdrich: "Skunk Dreams" (321-24), "Morning Glories & Eastern Phoebes" (325-27)

WEEK 6 (Feb. 18th, 20th):: Trout: "ALL MY RELATIONS" (345-46); poems by Ortiz (347-49), Tapahonso (387-88), Bruchac (408-409); Maria Campbell: from Halfbreed (361-66); Million: "The Housing Poem" (PDF); SILKO: "The Man to Send Rainclouds" (674-78)
    [TH: Response #2 Due]

WEEK 7 (Feb. 25th, 27th):: Silko: "Lullaby" (389-97); Trout: "GROWING UP" (411-13); Standing Bear (from My Indian Boyhood): "At Last I Kill a Buffalo" (423-29); Tiffany Midge: "Beets" (442-49); Tiffany Midge poems (PDF on Canvas)

WEEK 8 (March 3rd, 5th):: Gerald Vizenor: from Interior Landscapes (450-462); Joseph Bruchac: "Notes of a Translator's Son" (482-87); Trout: "AFFAIRS OF THE HEART" (493-94); Black Elk/Neihardt (from Black Elk Speaks): "High Horse's Courting" (520-26); Erdrich: "The Bingo Van" (504-515)
    [TH: ESSAY #1 DUE]

WEEK 9 (March 10th, 12th):: ESSAY #2 assignment/handout; Trout: "LANGUAGE & LEARNING IN TWO WORLDS" (587-91); Albert White Hat, Sr.: "Lakota Language" (592-97); Standing Bear (from My People the Sioux): "First Days at Carlisle" (598-610); Zitkala Sha: American Indian Stories (7-61)

WEEK 10 (March 17th, 19th):: Z-Sha: American Indian Stories (62-99); Momaday: "The Man Made of Words" (635-48); Trout: "WE SURVIVE" (651-53) & "MEMORY ALIVE" (715-716); HOGAN: "Seeing, Knowing, Remembering" (747-750); "The Voyagers" (762-67)

= = = = Spring Break = = = =

CORONAVIRUS ALERT: For an updated reading schedule for the rest of the semester, see the

WEEK 11 (March 31st, Apr. 2nd):: HARJO: "Metamorphosis" (679-83); Joy Harjo poems: 350-52, 663-65, 684-87; Harjo poetry PDF (on Canvas); Adrian C. Louis poetry PDF (on Canvas)

WEEK 12 (Apr. 7th, 9th):: Sherman ALEXIE poetry PDF (on Canvas);
Alexie: The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven

WEEK 13 (Apr. 14th, 16th):: The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven (finish-up)
    [TH: Response #3 Due]

WEEK 14 (Apr. 21st, 23rd):: James Welch: The Death of Jim Loney

WEEK 15 (Apr. 28th, 30th):: Jim Loney (continued)
    [TU: "ESSAY #2 DUE"]



** Native American Lit.--ESSAY #1: "Princesses, Mascots, & Mutts—Oh, My!"

ENGL/ETHN 245N—Spring 2020


[—NOTE that, for all options, a specific minimum number of assigned-for-class Trout readings (primary sources)* is called for. Moreover, some outside source work is required for an A or B on the "Content" criterion: see Grading Criteria, below.]
        * Clarifying note: by "primary sources," I mean in-class readings—those that are on the syllabus. This obviously also includes some non-Trout readings/PDFs, such as the Million & Midge poems.

1. HYBRIDITY: Examine the concepts of both biological/racial and cultural/literary hybridity via at least THREE of our class readings—AND via your own "nature & nurture" heritage. (And so some autobiographical narrative on your part—plus self-reflection!—is called for.) I also encourage you to draw parallels between the "cross-blood" authors in question and your own genetics & life experience. Finally, you may want to consider how the notion of (ethnic) "authenticity" fits into all of this. . . .

2. "SPORTS & INDIANS": Philip J. Deloria's "I Am Not a Mascot" is a mere tease into this intriguing topic. Using that essay as a starting point (& cited source), develop your own argument regarding the "Indian mascot" controversy, employing at least THREE other sources. (Most of these will no doubt be 2ndary sources. Indeed, I strongly suggest that one of your sources be the film In Whose Honor?: American Indian Mascots in Sports [see bib. info below], though you may have to jump through some hoops to find it [hmmm—another sports metaphor . . .].) (Later Add: You can now pay to stream it at Vimeo.)

2b. [related topic/later add:] As with option #2, address the current controversy regarding non-Indians "playing Indian" as fun or fashion statement (e.g., wearing Indian garb on Thanksgiving & Halloween; non-Indian Hollywood & music folks donning Native headdresses in their performances; etc.). Take a stand on this issue, this mainstream cultural appropriation of Native fashion/dress: that is, where does one draw the line here? In support of your argument, employ at least THREE sources from Trout (plus the usual secondary source[s] called for below).

3. "THE FIRST NEBRASKANS" . . . is the title of the Native American exhibit at the Nebraska History Museum in downtown Lincoln (15th & P). Critique the exhibit as a "text," as a body of REPRESENTATIONS of the Native. (Ask yourself, what would Deloria [etc.] say about this exhibit?) Employ—at least peripherally—at least THREE Trout readings, and be sure to cite the exhibit itself as a source on your Works Cited page (see how below). (Bonus: the exhibit counts as an outside source.)

4. "INDIANS: THE MOVIE": See a movie (again?) strong in Native representation (at least by suggestion), and critique the movie as—yes, again—a "text," as a body of REPRESENTATIONS of the Native. Of course, matters of stereotyping & authenticity will likely get extensive play here. (Bonus: the film counts as a secondary source.) . . . (Required: at least THREE readings from Trout.) . . . Possibilities include classic Westerns and several old Disney chestnuts, especially Peter Pan. (However: Pocahontas is strongly discouraged as an option, since I read one too many essays on said topic!)Other options (most suggested by students): Dances with Wolves (1990), of course; Hildalgo (2004)—Vine Deloria, Jr. even spoke out against this one before he died; The New World (2005)—an "update" of the Pocahontas story; and Avatar (2009). Oh, and of course: The Lone Ranger (2013)!

5. SPIRITUALITY/NATURISM: Since most of you are non-English majors, I give you the option here to examine an aspect or aspects of Native spirituality and/or "naturism" (one definition: a "religious" attitude towards nature—an immanent theology, if you will) from the point of view of your own field of academic study. Obviously, the various social sciences would seem most à propos here, but even an application of one of the "hard" sciences might be quite illuminating. . . . (Required: at least THREE readings from Trout.)

6. "THE NATIVE SPEAKS BACK": Write your own creative mini-"drama" or play, as a colloquium of authors from the Trout readings. Employ at least THREE of said authors—you may well want more—in a debate focused upon a theme (or set of related themes) of your choosing. Cleverly weave in these authors' ideas/arguments (and quotations!—with parenthetical citations) into your drama—and you'll also to be clever in working in any secondary sources that you employ. FORMAT your essay like a PLAY, introducing each "speech" with the speaker's name. (But otherwise format your paper in MLA style.)

7. "PLAYING INDIAN": Cultural Appropriation [New; though sort of another version of #2b]: Find a media or live-event example of the appropriation of Native cultures and perform your own analysis/critique. (I have in mind such awful web sites as—they're made by indigenous folk in —Bali!) As usual: employ at least THREE sources from Trout (plus the usual secondary source[s] called for below).

8. "IN THE NEXT WORLD, YOU'RE ON YOUR OWN": Devise a focused topic/thesis of your own, based on authors and/or issues in the Trout anthology: but get permission from me, however, at least one week before the due date (that is, TH, Feb. 27th). I also require that you employ at least THREE readings from Trout in your effort.


** LENGTH & FORMAT: At least 1,250 words (approx. 5 pages, not counting Works Cited page); word-processed/printed and double-spaced throughout according to MLA specifications; in a pocket folder [NOT a report cover or ring binder or sheet protector or manila envelope], with xeroxes of pages from non-class/reserve 2ndary sources (including web pages) cited

** DUE DATE: Thursday, March 5th (uploaded to Canvas by midnight [er, 11:59 pm]) **

* Content60%—150 pts.
—incl. quality & development of thought (& creativity, if called for!); (quality of) support from primary & secondary sources; fulfillment of specific option requirements; also . . .    
    * to qualify for an "A" on Content: at least TWO "non-web"* legitimate "outside" sources    
    * to qualify for a "B" on Content: at least ONE "non-web"* legitimate "outside" source    
* Organization—20%—50 pts.
—incl. effective intro & coda; body cohesion/"flow," via clear org. strategies    
* Grammar, Mechanics, & Format—20%—50 pts.
—incl. spelling, punctuation, sentence structure, & MLA format    
    (incl. in-text parenthetical citations & Works Cited page)    

* Note on "non-web" sources: these do include good'n'valid "print" sources that have been made available on the web, as in online newspaper and academic journal articles (available via searches in MLAB, EBSCO, etc.). Indeed, one of the best sources of academic essays on Native literatures is the journal SAIL (Studies in American Indian Literatures): all of its articles are available online, and it has its own search engine (oops, now defunct). However, please avoid faux-Indian-spirituality b.s. websites, sites that claim that certain "symbols" apply to all Native tribes, sites selling portable sweat lodges & weekend "vision quests," etc., etc. This class should have empowered you by now with enough background knowledge to see such sites for what they truly are.

(note cross-referencing of Trout sources; alphabetize entries; double-space thruout; indent subsequent lines of entry [hanging indent])

Gannon 7

Works Cited

The First Nebraskans. Museum exhibit. Nebraska History Museum, Lincoln.

        12 Feb. 2020.    [<--change date "accessed"!]

Gannon, Thomas C. "Great 'Indian' Moments in Pop Culture: 1950's." Great

      "Indian" Moments in Pop Culture. N.p., 25 July 2012. Web. 13 Feb. 2020.

[Web citation note: N.p. means "no publisher"; if there is a corporate publisher, university, etc., name it here. (See Toensing entry, below.) If there is no last-revised or publication date, use "n.d." Thus many ("amateur"-)page citations will include "N.p., n.d." The last date, after "Web.," is the date you accessed the page.]

Hogan, Linda. "The Voyagers." Trout 762-767.

In Whose Honor?: American Indian Mascots in Sports. Dir. Jay Rosenstein.

        New Day Films, 1997. DVD.

Toensing, Gale Courey. "McCain Launches 'Broad Based Attack' on Indian

        Gaming Regulation." Indian Country Today. Indian Country Today,

        30 July 2010. Web. 22 Feb. 2020.

Trout, Lawana, ed. Native American Literature: An Anthology. Lincolnwood,

        IL: NTC, 1999. Print.

[For PDFs on Canvas, the complete Works Cited info is often hand-written on the first page. If unavailable, use the following, filling in the specific info & omitting the square brackets:]

[Author's Last Name, First Name]. "[Poem or Short Story or Essay Title]." English 245N, Canvas.

        [10 Feb. 2020 (that is, put the date accessed here)]. PDF file.

My Essay Gradesheet, if you want to see the actual form!

        Essay #1 REMINDERS
• Most importantly, don't forget the outside/2ndary source requirements (this is a research paper). Also recall that each prompt choice requires a specific minimum number (usually 3) of assigned-for-class readings (see list under "Schedule"). To clarify, these are what I mean by "primary" readings; the "outside/2ndary" sources are in addition to these.
Genres: don't confuse a (non-fiction) essay w/ a (fictional) short story w/ a poem! . . . Also: a "[short work]" (e.g., a poem, short story, or essay) takes quotation marks; a book-length title gets italicized or underscored.
Authors & Gender: Vine is a "he," not a "she"; Maurice is also a "he"; Louise, on the other hand, is a "she"; etc.
• Never use the phrase "Native American culture": there is no such single entity.
Verb Tense/Plot Summaries: In formal literary analyses, it is customary to use the present tense when giving (brief!) summaries of plot events in a text: e.g., "At this point, the narrator begins to roll the beets down the hill, to the delight of her sister." . . . But DON'T use LONG plot summaries as filler. I know what happened in the story or essay, etc.
• Your choice of essay option/prompt should be clear to the reader—with hope, by the end of your introduction. (Lack of clarity here = a focus problem.)
Organization: unless you are consciously employing an experimental/postmodern style in your essay (or doing a creative genre such as a screenplay), please have discrete (that is, separate) and effective introductory paragraph(s) & concluding paragraph(s). (My grading template, BTW—available on the SYLL page—even has sub-categories for Introduction and Conclusion.)
• Devise your own essay TITLE that says something more original than "Essay #1." (And don't just use the generic—or cutesy—titles I have for many of the essay options; I've grown sick of these myself!)
• Regarding your grammar, mechanics, and especially, your MLA format: I wasn't marking that stuff on your informal responses, so don't assume you've been doing it right. If still in doubt about MLA headers, name & page #'s, etc., see (and use?) the WORD template linked towards the top of the SYLL page.
• Note the "Correction Symbols" section on the SYLL page for proper use of ellipses, dashes, and titles. [Go there now!?]


** Native American Lit.--ESSAY #2: Smoke Signals, Dancing w/ Wolves (& Other Indian Clichés!)

ENGL/ETHN 245N—Spring 2020



[—Note: some options below include Welch's Death of Jim Loney, which we'll supposedly just be finishing up when this essay is due. So you might want to get at least a taste of the novel ahead of time, to see if it appeals to you as a writing topic: and really, it's just a two-night pleasure, if you treat it as "fun" outside reading, not as an assignment. . . .]


1. "THE ANXIETY OF INFLUENCE": Sherman Alexie and James Welch have been cited as prime exemplums of a new, "darker" realism in Native American literature, with their often sordid subject matter and sardonic tone. But if their work can be viewed as something of a reaction to the "dancing on the edge of the rainbow" Romantic idealism of much of the 1st-generation Native American Renaissance, the influence of both traditional Native literature and of Momaday & company remain as important influences upon both authors. Speculate, then, on the potential (conscious or not) influence of at least THREE authors from the Trout anthology upon ONE of these two writers. (You don't have to specifically argue that Alexie or Welch actually READ your argued influences, though they likely did: pointing to crucial parallels is the main task called for here. Oh—but note the relatively early date of the Welch novel [1979]. That pretty much rules out writers who didn't publish until the 1980's or 90's!)

2. "UP IN SMOKE": See the movie Smoke Signals (1998), which is based upon Alexie's short story collection and subsequent screenplay. (It has been called "the first feature film to be written, produced, and directed by American Indians.") Compare/contrast the book and the film (which counts as an "outside" source), evaluating the effectiveness of his strategies in transforming a collection of a loosely related, non-linear set of short stories into a coherent mainstream/commercial film, and drawing conclusions on their relative successes as works of art—and transcending, I would hope, such pat & hackneyed responses as—"As usual, the book was better than the movie." One suggested question for C/C involves the plot(s): is the screenplay's attempt to make the book a more coherent & chronological whole (that is, more of a "novel") successful, at last, to you?

3. MAJOR AUTHOR SPECIALIZATION: We've already read many of the "major" authors in the Native American Lit pantheon: if one has struck you already as a special favorite, do some more specialization regarding said author, including at least TWO other texts1 by said luminary. Devise a thesis of your own, which might simply entail how seminal this author is in any study of Native American literatures.
        1 Poets are good choices here—especially if one of the "xeroxed" poets—Harjo, Louis, etc.—appeals to you. You see, their "texts" are poetry collections: and you certainly don't have to read ALL of those! (And see my"Links" page for a list of representative titles, whatever author you choose. . . . Also, some of our authors have extensive "outside" materials, in the form of PDF files: see "Course Materials" on Canvas.)

4. "OMAHA—LIKE THE CITY!": In the very first written response for this class, several students usually note that they have some Omaha—or Mohawk, or Cherokee, etc.—blood. Unfortunately, the only Omaha author I know much about is Francis La Flesche, the early 20th-century anthropologist. Enlighten me some more, by either concentrating on one Omaha (or Mohawk or Cherokee, etc.) writer, or several, or by presenting a cogent & interesting summary/review of "[Your Tribal Background] Lit" in general.

5. "GOING TO THE DOGS" or "DANCING WITH WOLVES": Rampant in Native literature is the image of the dog, or wolf, or coyote, often including a Native identification with the canine(s) in question. (Note, for example, A.C. Louis's poem, "Degrees of Hydrophobia.") "What's up with that?" Required is the Welch novel, where the protagonist's "lone wolf" persona epitomizes (sort of) such an identification with canids, but don't forget the many such instances in our Trout readings (and pdf-packet poems).

[Later Add:] 6. "FOR THE BIRDS": Like option #5, except replace "dogs" with "birds." Required is the Welch novel again (for one very obvious reason: his "dark bird").

7. "ESSAY #1 REDUX": Do any option from Essay #1 . . . that you didn't do as your first essay; but now, incorporate either the Alexie or Welch books. (Obviously, given this latter requirement, some of those options become more appropriate & do-able than others. . . .)

8. Your Own Native Lit "TEXTBOOK" [Later Add]: Design your own (mini-)Indian Lit "textbook": it can be a WORD doc. printed out for me (in which case, do the paper w/ sources in folder thing), or a homemade "scrapbook," or a set of web pages, or a Prezi, or—any multimedial/digital format that I can readily access. (This means, for one thing, graphics are very much encouraged.) To begin, select a goodly number of short Native texts: poems or excerpts from prose fiction or non-fiction. (Also, at least 50% of these should be from our assigned readings, with at least one from our Alexie collection and one from our Welch novel. [Again, these latter should be significant but brief excerpts from their fiction.]) Arrange them in some conscious order (even into short "units"?), and surround them with your own "critical apparatus": graphics, your commentary, your letters to the authors, your satires or imitations?!—ah: your discussion questions?—etc., etc. (I'm trying to leave the imaginative possibilities pretty open here.) No length limit (except for mercy on my grading soul!), or required number of primary "texts" (I leave that up to your conscience); but at least 50% of the word count should be YOURS (again, in the form of commentary, etc.). . . .  Sources note: "Outside" source requirements are the same (that is, 2 to qualify for an A on Content), though "outside" primary sources are especially encouraged, as part of your "anthology," of course; but never mind a Works Cited page: simply document the sources as clearly & concisely as you can in-text. . . . Also: if it is a digital project (set of web pages, etc.) that is exclusively online, please make sure that it is available thru, say, May 8th to ensure that I have time to evaluate it. However, please also turn in a hard-copy printout of any digital project (B&W is fine), so that I have something to "mark up." . . .  (Finally, as for a set of web pages, students in the past have obtained pretty good results with; but please spend some time on the web organization and getting text and photos "laid out" effectively. A web site scrambled together the night before is even more sinfully obvious than an essay that receives a similar treatment.) . . . FINALLY: for the Canvas submission, simply upload a WORD doc. w/ the URL to your digital project. I'll "attach" the gradesheet to that and reupload when finished grading.

9. "IN THE FIFTH WORLD, YOU'RE ON YOUR OWN": a final option, again, is to devise a focused topic/thesis of your own: but get advance permission from me, however, by Tuesday, April 21st. However, I require that you still deal with, at least in part, the Alexie OR Welch books.


** LENGTH & FORMAT: At least 1,250 words (approx. 5 pages) [not counting Works Cited page]; word-processed/printed and double-spaced throughout according to MLA specifications; uploaded to CANVAS (as an MS WORD doc, please!)

** DUE DATE: "Tuesday, April 28th" Sunday, May 3rd (uploaded to Canvas by midnight [er, 11:59 pm]) **




KEY to Correction Symbols/Abbrevs. I Commonly Use on Your Essays:
!great (or hilarious) point
>good point; "yeh, I'm followin' yu'"
?unclear; suspect point; "yu' lost me here"
cscomma splice: Subject+Predicate , Subject+Predicate
awkawkward grammatical/sentence structure
wwwrong word (denotation)
wcword choice (connotation)
/space needed here; especially between the "dots" in ellipses:
NOT: "I came...I conquered...."
INSTEAD: "I came . . . I conquered. . . ."
(If MS WORD auto-removes your spaces, I think you can turn off that reprehensible function in the "Auto-Correct" Preferences [or somethin' like that—sounded good to a Bill-Gates-o-phobe like me].)
paragraph break needed
transtransition needed
cohecohesion problem ("jumbled" or "abrupt" thoughts/sentences/paragraphing)
[other marks:]I can't reproduce here the "insert" and "delete" symbols that I also commonly use, but they should be intuitively obvious in their context.
Note on the DASH:A dash is not a single hyphen; use two hyphens, or a real "em" dash, with no spaces before or after:
NOT: "I - uh - love you."
INSTEAD: "I--uh--love you."
OR: use a real "em" dash ("I—uh—love you"): option/shift/hyphen on a Mac ("Windoz, I know nuttin'.")
Note on Lit./Media TITLES:The general rule is that works that are a "whole" (book titles, etc.) are italicized or underlined (e.g., Moby Dick) and works that are "part" of a whole (e.g., individual poems from a collection, etc.) are put within quot. marks (e.g., "Dover Beach"). The former—that is, italicized—include books, plays, magazine and journal titles (e.g., Newsweek), movies, CDs, and TV shows. The latter—that is, in quots.—include book chapter titles, essays, poems, songs, and TV episodes. (You may underline book titles, etc., rather than italicize them, but do one or the other throughout your essay.) Finally, your OWN essay title should be neither underlined or in quots.; emphasize it instead via bold type and/or caps if you so desire.
Finally:I have a bad habit of grading papers while standing up or pacing the floor (or, more and more, taking your papers for an outside walk!), so if you can't read any of my comments, please ask me. . . . Further note: the "substandard" representation of dashes and ellipses, etc.—in isolation—probably won't cost yu' more than a single point or so in my evaluation of your grammar/mechanix. But I'd think of the bigger picture: doing these little things right in your later academic and business writing will let your peers & superiors know that, yes, you know the fine points of that "grand game" called a college education.

To the Top

 Class Notes/Commentary

 TCG's Nat. Amer. Authors & Readings Links

 TCG's Native American Lit Courses: VIDEO Resources

 TCG's Great "Indian" Moments in Pop Culture

 TCG's Native American Reading List

ENGL/ETHN 245N SYLLABUS/Schedule--Spring 2020

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