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Instructor Class Description

Time Schedule:

Elissa Washuta
ENGL 359
Seattle Campus

Contemporary American Indian Literature

Creative writings - novels, short stories, poems - of contemporary Indian authors; the traditions out of which these works evolved. Differences between Indian writers and writers of the dominant European/American mainstream. Offered: jointly with AIS 377.

Class description

This course will focus on contemporary novels written by Native American authors. At the time of contact, Native people’s stories were handed down through the oral tradition, but the influence of non-Native culture has had a profound impact on Native storytelling. As we examine novels, we will consider recurring characteristics, including structural innovations, especially those involving the manipulation of time; familial and tribal relationships; ties to the land; and humor. Reading list: Winter in the Blood by James Welch, Tracks by Louise Erdrich, The Grass Dancer by Susan Power, Miko Kings by LeAnne Howe, and several short stories by Sherman Alexie.

Student learning goals

Students will learn to identify the major themes present across various authors' works within contemporary American Indian Literature.

Students will learn to identify the form and effects of the structural innovations of the works discussed.

Students will emerge as effective readers of texts that offer challenging amounts of information for casual readers to process.

General method of instruction

We will spend much of the class in small- or full-group discussion, supplemented by short lectures and videos.

Recommended preparation

No prerequisites or background necessary.

Class assignments and grading

Students will complete a report on literary elements of each text as well as a final paper. Students will be responsible for tracking assigned literary elements throughout the quarter and presenting their findings to the class regularly.

The majority of students' grades will be based on written work. A portion of the grade will be devoted to participation, which students will perform through their regular in-class check-ins and their responses to their classmates' check-ins.


The information above is intended to be helpful in choosing courses. Because the instructor may further develop his/her plans for this course, its characteristics are subject to change without notice. In most cases, the official course syllabus will be distributed on the first day of class.
Last Update by Elissa Washuta
Date: 03/11/2013