Course Syllabus

SYLLABUS (updated June 16)

ZOOM (passcode: 8755178599)

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ENG S-238: Indigenous Literatures

Harvard Summer School 2022

Mondays & Wednesdays / 8:30-11:30 am Eastern

June 22-August 5, 2022


Rebecca H. Hogue, PhD
Office: Barker Center #43
Office Hours: Mondays 3-4 pm and by appointment


“Te wehenga o Rangi Raua ko Papa (The Separation of Rangi and Papa),” Cliff Whiting (Maori), 1976.


This course will introduce fiction and poetry in only a small sampling of the over 1000 native nations across North America and Oceania. Thematically we will consider a variety of contemporary issues that impact Indigenous story-telling today:  environmental and social justice; gender and sexuality; land rights and city life; war and extractive capitalism; the law and tribal recognition, and much more. In our readings, we will ask, how do the oral, visual, sonic, cosmological, environmental, or political contexts influence contemporary Indigenous authors and their writing? Course texts will include poetry by Joy Harjo (Muscogee), Haunani-Kay Trask (Kanaka Maoli), Linda Hogan (Chickasaw), Lucy Tapahanso (Diné), Craig Santos Perez (CHamoru), Deborah Miranda (Esselen and Chumash), and Natalie Diaz (Mojave), as well as fiction by Leslie Marmon Silko (Laguna Pueblo), Louise Erdrich (Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa), Patricia Grace (Maori), Albert Wendt (Samoa), Epeli Hauʻofa (Tonga), Tommy Orange (Cheyenne and Arapaho), and Darcy Little Badger (Lipan Apache). With attention to specific histories and traditions, while also considering shared experiences, we will explore how literature plays a role in expressing contemporary Indigenous sovereignty and self-determination.


Assignments and Grading:

Participation: This is a seminar course, so contributing to discussions and debates is essential. Please be prepared to contribute to every class. If you find this challenging for any reason please contact me so that we can talk through strategies to employ. As part of your participation grade, you will write one Discussion Post (150-300 words of questions, comments, reactions, or analysis) per week by 8 am on the day of class. These are low-stakes assignments graded on completion.

Response Papers: These will be short analysis papers (approximately 2 double spaced pages)—informal opportunities to practice specific reading and analysis skills. These will be given feedback and graded on completion.

Paper One: One shorter paper (4-5 pages) will be due during the course of the term (see schedule). More information will be distributed closer to the date. This paper will be given letter grades.

Final Project Proposal: A one-page project proposal will be included as part of the drafting process for the Final Project.

Final Project Presentation: A final research presentation will be due at the end of the term, where students will put secondary sources into conversation with literary primary sources.  Students will choose to research and analyze any question related to Indigenous Literatures (e.g. an author history or influences; formal aspects of a novel or poem; literary traditions, movements, awards, or controversies). The final presentation will consist of three total parts: two in the presentation, and one written. In the presentation: 1. The Key Question and Key Concepts of your topic 2. An Abundant Tangent (something related but a fun detail you learned in your research). For the written portion, a 4-5 page critical reflection that discusses and analyzes what you learned in your topic in relationship to the broader themes from the course.

Participation:   25%
Response papers: 10%
Paper One:       25%
Final proposal:   5%
Final Project:   35%

Required texts (purchased online). I recommend using

Ceremony, Leslie Marmon Silko (Laguna Pueblo) (1977)

Habitat Threshold, Craig Santos Perez (CHamoru) (2018)

The Night Watchman, Louise Erdrich (Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa) (2020)

There, There, Tommy Orange (Cheyenne and Arapaho) (2018)

Bad Indians, Deborah Miranda (Esselen and Chumash) (2012)

Postcolonial Love Poem, Natalie Diaz (Mojave) (2020)

All texts with an asterisk (*) will be made available on the Canvas site on the Home page. All other texts should be purchased in either paperback/hardback, digital, or audiobook formats. Any edition is acceptable. If you encounter any problems accessing course material, please get in touch with me.

Course Schedule

Please note that the first week is a Wednesday / Friday schedule.


Week 1                                    Introduction: Indigenous Poetics and the Environment

Wednesday, June 22

Friday, June 24

Response Paper #1: Close Reading due Friday by 11:59 pm


Week 2                                    History, War, and Healing                         

Monday, June 27

Wednesday, June 29

  • Ceremony, Leslie Marmon Silko (Laguna Pueblo) (1977)

Response Paper #2: Close Reading due Friday by 11:59 pm


Week 3                                    Oceanic Storytelling, Environmental Justice

Monday, July 4

  • No School: Federal Holiday

Wednesday, July 6


Week 4                                    Termination and Tribal Sovereignty                

Monday, July 11

Wednesday, July 13

  • The Night Watchman, Louise Erdrich (Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa) (2020)
  • July 13 Recording

PAPER #1 due Friday by 11:59 pm


Week 5                                    Urban Life and Social Justice                     

Monday, July 18

Wednesday, July 20

FINAL PROJECT PROPOSAL due Friday by 11:59 pm


Week 6                                    Indigenous Feminisms and Queer Ecologies

Monday, July 25

Wednesday, July 27

  • Postcolonial Love Poem, Natalie Diaz (Mojave) (2020)


Week 7                                    #MMIW, Reparative Justice, and Graphic Fiction

Monday, August 1

Wednesday, August 3

FINAL PROJECT due Friday by 11:59 pm