Last Updated: 25 Jan 2020
|Essay #1||Essay Gradesheet (PDF)||MLA Template (WORD .doc)|
|Essay #2||Graduate Student Presentations|
|Correction Symbols||Course "NOTES" Page (incl. immediate ASSIGNMENTS)|
|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::::|
|COURSE WEB PAGEs:||< http://tgannon.incolor.com/NAlitS445N.html >|
< http://tgannon.incolor.com/NAlitN445N.html >
—both also accessible via CANVAS
COURSE DESCRIPTION/OBJECTIVES: The working subtitle for this class, "Ideas & Visions: Native American Non-Fiction," issues from Vine Deloria, Jr.'s intriguing assertion that the "white man . . . has ideas; Indians have visions" (FTL 105). The value of these visions, in Native poetry & fiction, has often been lauded—and taught in college classrooms. And yet "Indians" have "ideas," too, often expressed in expository prose of great eloquence and wisdom (and sometimes vehemence): this class, then, is an avenue into the critical theory & cultural criticism of this "visionary" ethnicity, a body of philosophical thought that examines Native identity, Native spirituality, the Native relationship with "Nature," and the role of the—potentially postmodern—Trickster in all such debates.
(There are lots of various old Bison Books editions of BES out there, but the pagination is different;
(This book is now out of print. PDFs of all assigned essays therein are available on Canvas.
(Older editions—1995, 1996—are fine: same pagination.)
TEXTS on RESERVE (Love Library):
Cook-Lynn, Elizabeth. Anti-Indianism in Modern America. U of Illinois P, 2001.
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'.) 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.
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:
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.. . . Finally, graduate students—and undergraduates who want a high score—should also incorporate at least one non-assigned "outside" reading in their responses. (Note, again, the texts on reserve, above.)
NOTE: "Response #3" for graduate students will be replaced, instead, with an oral presentation to the class at large, regarding a specific research topic (usually their research regarding Essay #2).
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 provide 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
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.
WEEK 1 (Jan. 14th, 16th):: Syllabus, course introduction;
WEEK 2 (Jan. 21st, 23rd):: ESSAY #1 assignment (below); BES (continued): 5-120 (chpts. 2-16)
WEEK 3 (Jan. 28th, 30th):: BES (continued): 121-172 (to end [incl. "Author's Postscript"]), Philip Deloria's new intro (xxix-xxxv [also PDF]); poetic interlude
WEEK 4 (Feb. 4th, 6th):: Vine Deloria, Jr.'s For This Land—1-43, 69-91, 119-144
WEEK 5 (Feb. 11th, 13th):: FTL (continued)—145-174, 187-213, 218-231, 235-249
WEEK 6 (Feb. 18th, 20th):: FTL (finish-up): 250-282; poetic interlude; N. Scott Momaday's The Man Made of Words
WEEK 7 (Feb. 25th, 27th):: TheMMofW (continued)
WEEK 8 (March 3rd, 5th):: TheMMofW (finish-up); poetic interlude; Leslie Marmon Silko's Yellow Woman & a Beauty of the Spirit
WEEK 9 (March 10th, 12th):: Yellow Woman (continued)
WEEK 10 (March 17th, 19th):: ESSAY #2 assignment (below); Yellow Woman (finish-up); poetic interlude; Linda Hogan: Dwellings
= = = = Spring Break = = = =
WEEK 11 (March 31st, Apr. 2nd):: Dwellings (continued)
WEEK 12 (Apr. 7th, 9th):: Dwellings (finish-up); poetic interlude
WEEK 13 (Apr. 14th, 16th):: Gerald Vizenor: Shadow Distances
WEEK 14 (Apr. 21st, 23rd):: Shadow Distances (continued); start(?) grad.-student presentations (= Response #3)
WEEK 15 (Apr. 28th, 30th):: Shadow Distances (finish-up); grad.-student presentations; course evals. & farewells
ENGL 445N/845N:001—Spring 2020
ASSIGNMENT OPTIONS (Let's jump to #9 first! . . .):
1. "A Failure to Communicate?": Develop a thesis regarding John G. Neihardt's literary reinscription of Black Elk's Lakota "message." I do not expect you to evidence a full-blown background in Lakota ceremonialism, but one might still easily perceive in Neihardt a Modernist agenda that includes an almost-desperate (re-)appreciation of "primitivism." In sum, how much in Black Elk Speaks might be traced to Western cultural projections? (Alternatively, you might also well defend Neihardt's "translation.")
1a.: One apparently glaring contradiction in BES is JGN's concurrent "tolling of the death knell" for Lakota culture and at the same time claiming to find something important & special about Black Elk's Great Vision, etc., worth saving and indeed, worth disseminating to mainstream American culture. How do you reconcile this apparent lack of logic? (This question could be the main subject of your essay, or part of the more general prompt above.)
1b. [later add]: Assume that Black Elk actually knew English all along and eventually learns to write it. On his deathbed, he finally crafts a response to the whole "controversy" surrounding BES, getting a lot of things off his chest. (Feel free to frame this as a letter to JGN. Again, this will probably be a version of prompt #1 proper.)
2. "Jung and aFreud": Since there are often several psychology and/or sociology and/or anthro majors in this class, approaching Black Elk Speaks from one of those disciplines could be most enlightening. Write an essay, then, in which you approach BES as a text fit for analysis via your own academic major.
3. "God Is Red—and White, or . . . ?": Develop a thesis regarding Vine Deloria, Jr.'s apparent love-hate relationship with Western theology. How well does his intellectual negotiation thereof—fraught as it is, necessarily, with cultural hybridity—work for you?
4. "Man Made of Words": Compare & contrast Momaday's notions of orality, naming, and the "Word" with current postmodernist/poststructuralist ideas.
5. "The Oral Tradition": Write your own closet drama, or "philosophical dialogue" (in the tradition of Bishop Berkeley, et al.), between Black Elk, Deloria (cf. his "Foreword" to BES, of course), Momaday, and/or Silko. (Choose at least three.) Have them partake in a (good-natured?!) debate on . . . religion & ceremony?; and/or the "Word"?; and/or Native naturism/ecology?; etc.
6. "Of Spotted Eagles & Land Ethics": Discuss the Western notion of "ecology" vis-à-vis our four authors to date: Black Elk, Deloria (see especially Section III of For This Land?), Momaday (see especially "An American Land Ethic"?), and Silko.
7. "Crit Theory, Man": Cognizant of the dangers of cultural mistranslation that might inevitably result from such a project, those of you disappointed in the relative lack of Western "theory" to date may apply your own critical-theory bent to any aspect of (any or all of) the works at hand: intriguing approaches include (Neo-)Marxism (Adorno, Althusser, etc.), Poststructuralism (Lacan, Derrida, Baudrillard, etc.), New Historicism (Foucault & followers), and Postcolonial/Colonial Discourse theory (Said, Spivak, M. L. Pratt, etc). (Freudian/Lacanian psychoanalytic theory also seems eminently doable; ecocriticism is implied by Option #6. Above all, options #7 & #9 should allow/encourage graduate students, especially, to continue their own research tacks & interests as much as possible.)
8. Read the movie Avatar (2009) as an allegory of the "Indian Wars," full of resonances from the "Native spirituality," etc., of Black Elk Speaks and/or the writing-back-against-the-colonizers protest-prose of Vine Deloria, Jr. OR perform a similar colonial-discourse critique of another film: there are several other movies with Native "ramifications" that have come out in recent years (e.g., The New World (2005) and—ugh—The Lone Ranger (2013)!: just ask me for permission, à la Option #9. [Finally/however: NO Disney's Pocahontas! I've read too many essays on that particular vid.])
9. "Write-your-OWN" thesis/topic that incorporates at least TWO of our authors to date (thru Silko). I'm also allowing a creative nonfiction (or even closet drama) option; however, you must still (somehow, cleverly) incorporate the "scholarly" requirements (that is, at least 2 of our our authors, plus outside sources & citations) into your essay (or "screenplay"). (Any "Write-your-OWN" topic/strategy must be okayed one week in advance of essay due date [that is, TH, March 5th]. Email me a paragraph-proposal on what you intend to do.)
** LENGTH & FORMAT: Undergrad. Students: at least 1,250 words (approx. 5 pages); Graduate Students: at least 2,500 words (approx. 10 pages); ALL: word-processed/printed and double-spaced throughout according to MLA specifications;
ENGL 445N/845N:001—Spring 2020
| Grad. Student Presentations (last week or so of classes)|
[Note: this activity is in lieu of Response #3, and is worth the same 80 points.]
|KEY to Correction Symbols/Abbrevs. I Commonly Use on Your Essays:|
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| Class Notes/Commentary|
ENGL/ETHN 445N/845N SYLLABUS Page--Spring 2020 < http://tgannon.incolor.com/NAlitS445N.html >
< http://tgannon.incolor.com/NAlitS445N.html >