Native American Women Writers

Syllabus / Schedule

--Fall 2019--
9:30-10:20 MWF    ANDR 033

Last Updated: 6 November 2019

Contact InfoSyllabusSchedule
ESSAY #1Essay Gradesheet (PDF)MLA Tips & Template (WORD doc.)
Correction SymbolsCourse "NOTES" Page (incl. immediate ASSIGNMENTS)

Contact Information: THOMAS C. GANNON        

OFFICE:346 Andrews Hall
MAILBOX:227 Andrews Hall
OFFICE HOURS:W, 10:20-11:20 a.m., TH, 2:00-3:00 p.m., & F, 10:20-11:20 a.m.; and by appointment . . . and email, of course::::
COURSE WEB PAGE(s): < > (= this SYLLABUS page) and
  < > ("NOTES"/Assignments page)
    —both also accessible via Canvas (< >)


"I am a dangerous woman. . . . They can't hear the clicking / of the gun inside my head."
  —Joy Harjo

COURSE DESCRIPTION/OBJECTIVES: This course is a survey of Native American literary women, a study and appreciation of their works from the turn of the twentieth century to the present day. Not only will the class consider a diversity of genres (including folklore, poetry, creative nonfiction, short stories, and the novel), but a variety of political stances will be examined—as Native women have written back against the "Master's house"—including Native traditionalism, feminism, and ecofeminism. Even more than male Native writers, these women have struggled with the question, how can one "imagine a new language when the language of the enemy" seems to have inevitably rendered the indigenous female Other culturally inarticulate? At last, I hope these works will demonstrate that such a "new language" is being powerfully articulated in contemporary Native American women literature(s).

    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. (2019 note: Since you'll be submitting formal assignments to Canvas, you will have provided such "samples" by default.)
    Opportunities to achieve this outcome: Students will read a wide range of literary genres by Native women 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, make a class presentation, 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. (2019 note: Since you'll be submitting formal assignments to Canvas, you will have provided such "samples" by default.)
    Opportunities to achieve this outcome: This survey course of Native American literatures will allow students to explore a wide range of texts by Native women who have (usually) written back against the "Master's house." Students will thus critically evaluate a representative cross-section of Native American women's 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 American women 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.

• Harjo, Joy, and Gloria Bird, eds. Reinventing the Enemy's Language: Contemporary Native Women's Writing of North America. New York: Norton, 1998.
• Zitkala-Ša [Gertrude Bonnin]. American Indian Stories [1921]. New ed. Lincoln: Bison Books, 2003.
• Harjo, Joy. How We Became Human: New and Selected Poems. New York: Norton, 2002.
• Hogan, Linda. Dwellings: A Spiritual History of the Living World. New York: Simon, 2007. [Older 1995/1996 edition is fine.]
• Silko, Leslie Marmon. Gardens in the Dunes. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1999.
—Plus, Your PRINTOUTS of PDF files on Canvas—

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 "Course Documents" in Canvas.
Allen, Paula Gunn. The Sacred Hoop: Restoring the Feminine in American Indian Traditions. Boston, Beacon Press, 1986.
---, ed. Spider Woman's Granddaughters: Traditional Tales and Contemporary Writing by Native American Women. Boston: Beacon Press, 1989.
Erdrich, Louise. The Blue Jay's Dance : A Birth Year. New York: HarperCollins, 1995.
---. Jacklight. New York: Holt, 1984.
Green, Rayna, ed.: That's What She Said: Contemporary Poetry and Fiction by Native American Women. Bloomington: Indiana UP, 1984.
Harjo, Joy. In Mad Love and War. Hanover, NH: Wesleyan UP, 1990.
---. A Map to the Next World. New York: Norton, 2000.
---. She Had Some Horses. New York: Thunder's Mouth Press, 1983.
---. The Spiral of Memory: Interviews. Ed. Laura Coltelli. Ann Arbor: U of Michigan P, 1996.
Hogan, Linda. Calling Myself Home. Greenfield Center: Greenfield Review Press, 1978.
---. The Woman Who Watches Over the World: A Native Memoir. New York: Norton, 2001.
Hogan, Linda, and Brenda Peterson, eds. The Sweet Breathing of Plants: Women Writing on the Green World. New York: North Point Press, 2001.
Joy Harjo [video]. Dir. Dan Griggs. Lannan Foundation, 1995.  [can't put on reserve, but at Love]
Linda Hogan [video]. Dir. Dan Griggs. Lannan Foundation, 1996.  [can't put on reserve, but at Love]
Silko, Leslie Marmon. Conversations with Leslie Marmon Silko. Ed. Ellen L. Arnold. Jackson: UP of Mississippi, 2000.
---. Laguna Woman: Poems [1974]. 2nd ed. Tucson: Flood Plain Press, 1994.
---. Storyteller. New York: Arcade, 1981.
---. Yellow Woman and a Beauty of the Spirit: Essays on Native American Life Today. New York: Simon, 1996.
Swann, Brian, and Arnold Krupat, eds.  I Tell You Now: Autobiographical Essays by Native American Writers. Lincoln: U of Nebraska P, 1987.
        [incl. biogr. essays by Elizabeth Cook-Lynn, Paula Gunn Allen, Diane Glancy, Linda Hogan, Wendy Rose, and Joy Harjo]
Wilson, Norma. The Nature of Native American Poetry. Albuquerque: U of New Mexico P, 2001.
        [incl. chapters on Roberta Hill, Linda Hogan, Wendy Rose, and Joy Harjo]
Zitkala-Ša [Gertrude Bonnin]. American Indian Stories. Lincoln: U of Nebraska P, 1985.
        [same pagination for main text, but different intro]
---. Old Indian Legends [1901].   Lincoln: U of Nebraska P, 1985.

ATTENDANCE is highly recommended, not only because you'll learn more, but because graded in-class activities will 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 (>6) 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'.) A few more "rules": 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 Responses360180
Pop Quizzes620120
Group Presentation1100100
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 60 possible) comparable to the final-grade schema above: e.g., an A- = 54 or 55, a C = 44, 45, or 46, 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.

        • 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 assigned 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 plan to 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.

        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 that essay.) . . . Because of problems in the past in this regard, responses are due by/at the BEGINNING of the class period of the day it is due. 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, a paper 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." 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 meeting's immediate assignments—)

WEEK 1 (Aug. 26th, 28th, 30th):: Syllabus, course introduction (incl. Peter Pan excerpt; Burns: "Sure You Can Ask Me a Personal Question" {PDF on Canvas}); P. G. Allen: Introduction to The Sacred Hoop {PDF on Canvas}; Reinventing: Harjo & Bird's Introduction (19-); Allen: "Going Home, December 1992" (150-); ESSAY #1 assignment (below)

WEEK 2 (. . . Sept. 4th, 6th):: more from Reinventing: ["SISTERHOOD" ESSAYS & POEMS:] Petersen: "Missing You" (Reinventing 104-); Woody: "The Girlfriends" (102-); Hill: "To Rose" (309-); Tapahonso: "What Danger We Court" (314-); Big Boy: "I Will Bring You Twin Grays" (317-); [more POEMS:] Boyne: "Invocation" (31-); Gould: "Coyotismo" (52-)

WEEK 3 (Sept. 9th, 11th, 13th):: more from Reinventing: [POEMS:] McGlashan: "The Island of Women" (67-); Tremblay: "Indian Singing in 20th-Century America" (169-); [ESSAY:] Hale: "The Only Good Indian" (123-); [POEMS:] Lee: "Confession" (186-); Red Elk: "For Thieves Only" (187-); Dauenhauer: "How to Make Good Baked Salmon from the River" (201-); More from Reinventing: Midge: "Written in Blood" (211-); Midge: "Mount Rushmore & the Arm of Crazy Horse" & "Iron Eyes Cody" {PDF on Canvas}

WEEK 4 (Sept. 16th, 18th, 20th):: more from Reinventing: [POEMS:] Joe: "Expect Nothing Else from Me" (220-); Chrystos: "The Old Indian Granny" (231-); Million: "The Housing Poem" (163-); [ESSAY:] Fire: "Hard-to-Kill Woman" (300-); [ESSAY:] Brave Bird: "We AIM Not to Please" (336-)
    M: Response #1 Due

WEEK 5 (Sept. 23rd, 25th, 27th):: more from Reinventing: [SHORT STORIES (of ACTIVISM):] Maracle: "Who's Political Here?" (246-); LaDuke: "Ogitchida Ikwewag" (263-); begin Zitkala-Ša's American Indian Stories (complete assigned readings: 7-99, 109-125, 185-195)

WEEK 6 (Sept. 30th, Oct. 2nd, 4th):: American Indian Stories (continued)

WEEK 7 (Oct. 7th, 9th, 11th):: finish up American Indian Stories; more from Reinventing: ["GRIEF" ESSAY, SHORT STORIES & POEM:] Levchuk: "Leaving Home for Carlisle Indian School" (175-); Jacobs: "One-Hundred-Dollar Boots" (271-); Endrezze: "The Constellation of Angels" (281-); Tapahonso: "All the Colors of Sunset" (319-); Power: "Beaded Soles" (374-); Brant: "Stillborn Night" (352-)
    M: Response #2 Due
    • W: own topic (if desired) for Essay #1 due

WEEK 8 (Oct. 14th, 16th, 18th):: More from Reinventing: [SHORT STORY:] Midge: "Beets" {PDF on Canvas}; [POEMS:] Noel: "Understanding Each Other" (233-); Rendon: "You See This Body" (279-); northsun: "99 things to do before you die" (394-); Erdrich: "The Strange People" {PDF on Canvas}; Joy Harjo: "Metamorphosis" {PDF on Canvas}; Reinventing: "Warrior Road" (55-); begin Harjo's How We Became Human

WEEK 9 (. . . Oct. 23rd, 25th):: How We Became Human (continued); ESSAY #2 assignment/handout (below)
    • W: ESSAY #1 DUE

WEEK 10 (Oct. 28th, 30th, Nov. 1st):: finish up How We Became Human; begin Linda Hogan's Dwellings (11-41, 47-76, 109-159)

WEEK 11 (Nov. 4th, 6th, 8th):: Dwellings (continued); some of Hogan's poetry & her essay "First People" {PDF on Canvas}

WEEK 12 (Nov. 11th, 13th, 15th):: Leslie Marmon Silko: "The Border Patrol State" {online}; begin Gardens in the Dunes

WEEK 13 (Nov. 18th, 20th, 22nd):: Gardens in the Dunes (continued)
    M: Response #3 Due

WEEK 14 (Nov. 25th . . .):: Gardens in the Dunes (continued)

WEEK 15 (Dec. 2nd, 4th, 6th):: Gardens in the Dunes (continued); Presentation planning; start Group Presentations
    • TU: own topic (if desired) for Essay #2 due

WEEK 16 (Dec. 9th, 11th, 13th):: finish up Silko—and GROUP PRESENTATIONS
    ESSAY #2 DUE: noon, TU, Dec. 17th (end of scheduled final exam time)


    ** ESSAY #1: "Of Red Birds & Blackbirds": Reinventing Native Women **    

—My Essay Gradesheet, if you're interested—


** ASSIGNMENT OPTIONS:    [I might consider option #10 first?; also, please devise your own essay title rather than adopting my overly cutesy prompt titles below.]

1. "BY WAY OF INTRODUCTIONS": Re-examine the two intros by Paula Gunn Allen and by Harjo & Bird that we read the first week of class. Identify the "Native Woman" themes or characteristics delineated in either or both of these intros that, given our readings to date, you deem the most important. Now, analyze at least three (3) of our later assigned readings in terms of said themes/characteristics.

2. "PALEFACES AND IRON HORSES": Examine Zitkala-Ša's cultural/authorial dilemma, as a part-Native woman writing for a mainstream white audience with the onstensible intent of at least a modicum of authenticity. To what extent are her rhetorical strategies assimilationist—that is, assumptive of the attitudes of her Euro-American audience? (Note, for one thing, the origin of her Dakota name.) To what extent, on the contrary, might her writings be read as more positive "reinventions," in Harjo & Bird's meaning of the term? In other words, might one be able at last to read her apparently assimilationist literary poses as actually a "writing back" against the anti-Indian ideology through which she seems victimized?

3. "DEER JOY": Develop a thesis & argument concerning Harjo's poetry regarding one of the following: a) "language" (including non-human ~); b) sound/orality/"music"; c) the "red earth" & other species (ecofeminism); d) "revolution" & the "enemy." (Feel free to combine and/or re-define any of these categories in a cogent fashion.)

4. "RED FEMINISM": We've examined the explicit threads of feminism that run through the manifestos of Allen and Harjo & Bird, and no doubt noticed similar themes in many other readings to date. Especially if you have some background knowledge of mainstream European & American feminism, you might fruitfully examine the similarities & differences—and possible cross-influences—between the (various!?) whitestream and Native brands of feminism. (Laguna Pueblo writer Leslie Marmon Silko would be a fine 2ndary/"outside" source here.)

5. "FOR THE BIRDS": What's up with all the birds in our readings to date? For instance, Zitkala-Ša = "red bird," Harjo has many crows & blackbirds in her poems, and images of eagles, etc., fly through many of our other readings. Support a thesis that at least partially explains this infatuation.

6. "TWO WORLDS": Examine at least one of our in-class authors/texts in terms of the ubiquitous "two worlds" theme, the Native woman's navigation between Euro-American and indigenous cultures, a journey of both pain & promise, of . . . . (Oh, please, Tom!)

7. "POCAHONTAS, THE MOVIE": Analyze/critique Disney's Pocahontas in terms of its representations of Natives and women. (Refer to at least three in-class readings as support; but also recall the "outside" source requirements, below. [But note, too, that the film counts as one of them.])
        [later add:] Of course, there are lots of "Indian" movies out there, before and since Disney's 1995 Pocahontas—including a more recent non-animated version of the Pocahontas story (The New World, 2005). Feel free, then, to complete this topic prompt with the movie of your choice. But also make sure that the representation of Indian women is at least a semi-major component of the movie. Oh, I think Avatar (2009) also fits the bill!(The subtext here is that I have read a freaking LOT of papers on the 1995 Pocahontas; you should probably find a really strong/interesting argument/angle if you want to write aNOTHER one?!)

8. "A MAJOR PROBLEM": Address this course's issues of Native ethnicity and/or gender from the point of view of your own MAJOR field of academic study. Obviously, the various humanities & social science majors would seem most à propos here, but even an application of one of the "hard" sciences might be quite illuminating. This is also an opportunity for those of you in the Ed. School to consider the pedagogical ramifications of our readings & the issues involved. (Refer to at least three in-class readings as support.)

9. "NATIVE AMERICAN LIT = AMERICA?!" [later add]: Employing at least three of our assigned readings to date, support Joy Harjo's apparently odd assertion that the "literature of the aboriginal people of North America defines America. It is not exotic" (H&B 31).

10. "IN THE FIFTH WORLD, YOU'RE ON YOUR OWN": a final (and perhaps best) option is to devise a focused topic/thesis of your own: but get permission from me, however, at least two weeks before the due date (that is, Wednesday, Oct. 9th). However, I would require that you deal with, in a concerted fashion, one or more of our assigned texts (thru Harjo's collection).


** LENGTH & FORMAT: At least 1,250 words (approx. 5 pages, not incl. 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/printouts of any (web) page cited in-text (except for class texts and materials on the library reserve list)

** DUE DATE: Wednesday, October 23rd (uploaded to CANVAS by midnight) **

* Content60%—150 pts.
—incl. quality & development of thought; support from primary & secondary sources; fulfillment of specific option requirements; also . . .    
    * to qualify for an "A" on Content: at least FOUR "non-web" legitimate "outside" sources    
    * to qualify for a "B" on Content: at least TWO "non-web" legitimate "outside" sources    
* Organization20%— 50 pts.
—incl. effective intro & coda; body cohesion/"flow," via clear org. strategies    
* Grammar, Mechanics, & Format20%— 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.). 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, a student has alerted me to the fact that this site is now defunct, the victim of Big Ed capitalism.)You could also try the Academic Search Premier, available here at UNL. Another resource (for academically reputable web sources): the more well-known authors have entries on my Native Authors & Readings Links page. Also, non-assigned readings in the Harjo & Bird anthology qualify as outside sources. (But be sure to cite them separately on your Works Cited page [see below].) Of course, there are a lot of legitimate sources on the social media out there nowadays. For example . . . .
        • "Native American woman convinces Netflix to change the synopsis for 'Pocahontas'"
(Just watch out for "fake news"!—especially web sites by wanna-be-Indian New Agers. One HUGE red flag is if they speak of"Native American beliefs" or "symbols" in a generic sense, with no reference to specific tribes.)


(note the cross-referencing of Harjo & Bird anthology sources; alphabetize entries; double-space thruout; indent subsequent lines of an entry [hanging indent])

Gannon 7

Works Cited

Fire, Arlene. "Hard-to-Kill-Woman." Harjo and Bird 301-308.

Gannon, Thomas C. "Great 'Indian' Moments in Pop Culture: 1950's." Great "Indian" Moments in Pop Culture. N.p., 25 July 2012. Web. 8 Oct. 2019.

[Web citation note: N.p. means "no publisher"; if there is a corporate publisher, university, etc., name it here. 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.]

Harjo, Joy, and Gloria Bird, eds. Reinventing the Enemy's Language: Contemporary Native Women's Writing of North America. New York: Norton, 1998.

Pocahontas. Dir. Mike Gabriel and Eric Goldberg. Walt Disney, 1995.


    ** ESSAY #2: "In the Fifth World, You're Really On Your Own"    

As a change of pace from my (usual) "choose from 7 or 8 prompts" type of essay assignment, I'm leaving this one much more open-ended. (Why? So you have a greater opportunity to think on your own—and so I won't have to read so many "similar" papers!) The assignment, then: develop your own topic/thesis, this time, regarding "Native Women Writers." The main requirement is that you deal with (some aspect of) Hogan's Dwellings, or Silko's Gardens in the Dunes, or both. (The main danger here, evident the last time I tried this assignment, is for the student to write an unfocused "book-report"-ish essay on Hogan or Silko. Focus!) One might hope, given your greater exposure to such writing by this point, that your thesis may well involve a more "cumulative" conclusion about what "Native American Women's Lit" is, or why it is, or how it is, etc. In other words, thinking again in terms of such "themes" as survival, language, feminism, "Nativism," recurring imagery & metaphors, et al., would be a good thing in developing a focused thesis (= one "controlling idea," one overarching statement about your topic). I will not require that you get your topic/thesis "okayed," but flying your ideas by me via email would be another good idea.

[Having trouble coming up with a topic? Some ideas, then:]

a) GARDENS—Since Silko's novel is the literal culmination of the semester's reading, why not treat it as the "thematic" culmination, too? Select one MOTIF from Gardens (e.g., "gardens"/nature/place; identity/cultural hybridity/assimilation), and trace a series of analogues between Silko's novel and previous texts we've read for the course. . . . (Another idea: what about Hattie? How does her exploration of her European [and even proto-feminist] roots & identity fit into this semester's readings?)

b) ECO-JUSTICE vs. SOCIAL JUSTICE: An Imaginary Dialogue?—How about exploring/comparing how much relative weight Hogan vs. Silko (and/or Harjo?) give to matters of eco-/environmental justice versus (human) social justice? (Granted, in their best moments, all three might eagerly claim that the two "justices"/emphases are indivisible, really one and the same, "two wings of the same bird.") As an option to THIS option, feel free to write your own creative mini-"drama" or play, an imaginary dialogue/debate between the two (or three) authors. Cleverly weave in these authors' own ideas/arguments (and quotations!—with parenthetical citations) into your drama—and you'll can also 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; also, don't use quots. for each speaker unless they're actually quoting themselves or somebody else (again, as in a play or screenplay). (But otherwise format your paper in MLA style.)

c) [Recent Add (2015):] Your Own Native Women's Lit "TEXTBOOK": Design your own (mini-)Women's 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 women's 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 Hogan text and at least one from our Silko novel. [Again, these latter should be great/exemplary but brief excerpts from these books.]) 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: source requirements are the same, 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 Dec. 15th 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" and staple the grading rubric to. . . .  (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.)

* About Sources: For source requirements (see below), I will no longer distinguish between "primary" and "secondary" sources. (For example: our Hogan's text, plus 3 other sources by/about Hogan[*] = 4 sources). One caveat: several poems, or essays, by the SAME author, from the SAME source = only ONE source. (For example: 3 poems from a collection by Silko, or 3 essays from Dwellings = 1 source, not 3.)
        * Note that, if you're doing something with Linda Hogan, a selection of her poems and her wonderful essay "First People" are on Canvas; I just didn't want to rush through Dwellings to get to them this semester.


** LENGTH & FORMAT: at least 1,250 words, not counting your Works Cited page (approx. 4-5 pages); word-processed/printed and double-spaced throughout according to MLA specifications

** DUE DATE: uploaded to CANVAS by TU, Dec. 17th, noon (end of scheduled exam time) **


* Content60%—150 pts.
—incl. topic & focused thesis; quality & development of thought; support from primary & secondary sources; fulfillment of specific option requirements; also . . .    
    * to qualify for an "A" on Content: at least FOUR "non-web" legitimate sources    
    * to qualify for a "B" on Content: at least TWO "non-web" legitimate sources    
* Organization20%— 50 pts.
—incl. effective intro & coda; body cohesion/"flow," via clear org. strategies    
* Grammar, Mechanics, & Format20%— 50 pts.
—incl. spelling, punctuation, sentence structure, & MLA format    
    (incl. in-text parenthetical citations & Works Cited page)    

** SILKO's GARDENS: Tiospaye Presentation Guidelines    

* ASSIGNMENT: The assignment for each group is, first of all, to plan a 20-25 minute group presentation of your group's assigned pages in Silko's Gardens in the Dunes. First of all, of course—read the book. Next, decide upon a topic (see below) and on a general "tack"/angle for your presentation: sure, it can be a dry let's-take-turns-tellin'-em-our-thoughts method. If so, at least divide your presentation by sub-topics/sub-"themes" that each student will explore. BETTER, more "creative," ideas are listed below. . . . Make sure to delegate individual parts/tasks/roles, allowing each student approx. the same amount of time to "do his/her thing." (Note that a good percentage of your 100 points involves your individual "sub"-presentation.)

* TOPIC: Rather than the range-of-pages deal that I've assigned groups in the past, I'm giving each group a "free" choice of topics. First of all, consider my list of "MOTIFS" on the course "Notes" page. (You may even refine these motifs into smaller, more focused thematic units—or combine motifs in novel[!?] pairings.) Other good ideas include a specifically socio-historical-cultural topic—and how it relates to the novel: e.g., the (real, historical) Ghost Dance "craze"; feminism/feminists of the late 19th century; European pre-/non-Christian religions (e.g., Celtic Druidism). Natural science topics seem very much in order here, too, especially botanical ones! But feel free, also, to choose certain characters, or plotlines (e.g., "going home") to concentrate on, especially if you have an original take on the subject. Also, individual characters might even be in order, especially—again—if you give them an original spin—and especially obscure minor characters?! (What are they doing in the novel?) Finally, you might compare/contrast one of the novel's "motifs" with Z-Sha? Harjo? Hogan? . . .

* Note on PLANNING: you will be given (parts of) several class periods for presentation planning, but you may well also want to communicate via email; feel free to avail yourselves of the Canvas GROUPS for that.

* Some (Better) Ideas (than Straight Exposition):

1) You might FIRST have the rest of us do some individual prewriting, or small-group brainstorming, to a prompt supplied by you. Or ask us all a set of questions you've drawn up. In other words, you can elicit our initial reactions to your topic/motif before you start your spiel. (Please limit this activity to just a few minutes, however, since it counts as part of your time limit.)

2) A "dramatized" presentation has earned the best scores for students in the past: thus I've seen groups arrange their presentation around an imaginary TV talk or game (e.g., Jeopardy), or a news or talk show; they've put on mock trials ("The Trial of Edward Palmer, for Crimes Against . . ."?!); they've employed "crazy" visual aids; they've even dramatized the literary work itself. But be sure to use such creative scenarios as frames within which each of you can "get down to business" in presenting the nuts'n'bolts content of your part of the presentation. Also, a PowerPoint or Prezi might be a good way to combine, then present, your group's effort.

3) Finally, a mandatory (≈5-minute) Q&A session AFTER your presentation will follow (and be included in your time limit). I might ask a question or two to get the ball rolling, but above all, it's a chance both for you to expand upon your "learnèd" interpretation and for the rest of the class to improve their participation grades—and to give you a generally hard time?! . . .

—At last, with ≈5 minutes for #1 with ≈5 minutes for #3, you should easily be able to fill the other 10-15 minutes with 2- to 3-minute "mini-presentations" from each member of your group. Since I'm squeezing two groups into two of our class periods, time considerations require that we start right away on those days, and so the 1st group should arrive at least a bit early to get any required A-V stuff, etc., set up. Also, I'll have to stop the first group at exactly 9:55 on those two days.

* Group Planning Days (at least part of the following class periods):
    —Of could you'll also likely want to communicate w/ other group members via Canvas.
  —M, Nov. 25th: TOPIC decision, at a bare minimum?!, w/ some tentative strategy planning?
  —M, Dec. 2nd: work on presentation strategy/logistics; presentation ORDER determination
  —W, Dec. 4th: finalize presentation strategy/logistics . . . (As you can see: the sooner you finish the novel, the better.)

** Group Presentations:
• FR, Dec. 6th (1 group)
• M, Dec. 9th (2 groups)
• W, Dec. 11th (2 groups)
• FR, Dec. 13th (1 group)

    —ORDER for groups will be determined by LOTS (er, I mean, synchronicity.)
(Note to "audience members": these are also "big days" for your participation grade!?)

* Content40 pts.
—quality of your individual "sub-presentation"
    * incl. outline (≈ 1-page?—with any documented sources—**due at the beginning of class**)
* Individual Effort in Group20 pts.
—that is, individual input towards the group presentation (especially attendance on planning days; and—"I have ears"!)    
* General Group Effort20 pts.
—group planning, synchronization, and creativity of presentation    
* Engagement of Others/Q&A20 pts.
—(group) engagement of the rest of us during presentation; (individual) handling of questions afterwards    

        • Note: I'm not designating any specific penalty for individual presentations that are too short due to lack of effort and/or student engagement; but your lack of effort will be reflected, certainly, in your "Content" and "Individual" scores. . . .

        • Note on the OUTLINE: If the group is doing a coordinated "skit," etc., that works best as one document, I will accept one extended "outline" from the whole group. (In fact, this has become the preferred way to go, for most recent group presentations.) But please indicate who did what, unless it is safe to assume that you did the stuff you present/read for the presentation. (Again, be clear & assertive about your contributions; it is worth 40 pts. of the 100. Also, I don't want a hodgepodge of "here's our script" & then, from a few individual students, "but here's my real/individual outline, Tom; wink, wink." Choose one option or the other.)
        I would even accept a (legible) printout of a PowerPoint here; however, it should include all the "text" that any/all students are working from. And in all cases, I don't want, say, a half-page outline from a student, who then has three pages of notes s/he is working from "on stage." There should be a one-to-one correspondence.

        • Finally, try to get to class on the day of your presentation, if at all possible: not only would your absence leave your fellow group members in the lurch, but the make-up'll be—well, to quote King Lear, "I will do such things,— / What they are yet I know not, but they shall be / The terrors of the earth!"

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)
[others:]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, so if you can't read any of my comments, please ask me. . . . Further note: the "substandard" representation of dashes and ellipses (in isolation) probably won't cost yu' even a single point 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

 Native Authors & Readings Links

 Great "Indian" Moments in Pop Culture

 TCG's Native American Video Resources


< >