First Nations Literatures:
Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgendered, and Two-Spirited Native Writers
ENG6527F -- Fall 2003
First Nations House Lounge
Professor Daniel Heath Justice
Medical Arts Bldg., Rm. 512
W 12-2; Th 2-4; and by appointment
First Nations House
Drawing from a diverse range of Indigenous critical traditions, we will engage with selected works of Native Two-Spirited/Queer/LGBT writers (and relevant work of selected straight-identified writers) and examine discourses of sexuality and gender identity as sites of both cultural revitalization and conflict. Since the onset of Eurowestern Invasion in this hemisphere, the erotic and gender expressions of Indigenous peoples have been misunderstood, repressed, erased, or appropriated as part of the broader exercise of colonialism. As a partial corrective to such practices, we will apply Indigenous teachings to these discourses and texts in order to theorize about the meanings of race, sexuality, and gender in diverse communities. We will be particularly attentive to the cultural, historical, and political influences on these discourses and the communities from which they emerge, with an eye toward decolonization.
Note -- Copies of all final seminar projects will be made available to interested Native Two-Spirit groups, thus giving back to Indigenous people in the spirit of accountability and reciprocity. Seminar participants will have the opportunity to move their learning beyond the classroom and engage with local Queer/LGBT and Aboriginal communities through optional service learning projects.
Craig S. Womack (Muskogee/Cherokee), Drowning in Fire
Beth Brant (Mohawk), Writing as Witness: Essay and Talk
Chrystos (Menominee), Fire Power
Joy Harjo (Mvskoke), In Mad Love and War
Gregory Sarris (Miwok/Pomo), Watermelon Nights
And at least two of the following books of poetry: Janice Gould (Maidu), Earthquake Weather; Gregory Scofield (Métis), Love Medicine and One Song; Qwo-Li Driskill (Cherokee/Osage/Lenape/Lumbee), Burning Upward Flight; Deborah A. Miranda (Esselen/Chumash), Deer
Assorted readings on reserve or distributed in class
Suggested Texts for Professionalization in English Studies
Your engaged, respectful participation and regular attendance are essential to both your own success in this course and that of your peers. If you find it necessary to miss a class, contact me as soon as possible. And, of course, it's your responsibility to make up any work you've missed. In all matters you'll be expected to abide by the U of T Codes of Behaviour on Academic Matters and Student Conduct (see 2003/2004 SGS Handbook, pp. 40-51). You have both rights and responsibilities as a student at the University, so familiarize yourself with the Codes if you haven't done so already. (Be aware, too, that scholars in different disciplines are generally held to certain professional codes of ethics not outlined in U of T policies. For guidance and more information, contact the primary organizations in your area.)
A critical analysis (3-5 pages) AND moderation of course discussion once during the term: 15%
Analyses should engage that day's readings (and any relevant outside resources) by articulating a rhetorical and/or discursive analysis, or by making a particular argument about them in relation to other texts and/or historical issues/events. Copies must be provided for all participants. You will use this analysis to prompt that day's discussion, for which you will have primary responsibility. (This is your opportunity to develop your future professional skills in moderating class discussions.) You won't read your critical analysis directly; rather, it will be a springboard from which to expand on your ideas in dialogue with those of your classmates. This will require advance planning and outside reading -- recommended texts are a good place to start, but you should do research of your own, too -- and may require collaboration if more than person signs up for the same day.
Conference paper abstract and presentation: 25%
Part of the mandate of graduate education is professional training. Toward this goal, we'll have a "mini" academic conference at the end of the term that will allow you the opportunity to practice your public presentation/performance skills. This will be more than a literary studies conference; it will be an Indigenous conference, which has its own discursive processes and scholarly expectations that differ somewhat from other venues. You'll provide a 250-word abstract of your individual presentation and, with at least three others, organize a panel for the conference (complete with panel chair/moderator). I'll give guidance and detailed post-panel feedback, but you'll be responsible for the successful organization and execution of the conference panels. Each panel will be followed by a brief question-and-answer period. The success of each presentation will be determined by its ability to clearly articulate your scholarly argument in a compelling manner; keep in mind that this is a performance, so think of ways to enhance the efficacy of your presentation. We'll discuss the expectations of an abstract and paper presentation throughout the term, particularly on November 20th. This conference will be open to the university and general public, so treat this requirement seriously.
Research Essay OR Service Learning Project: 40%
essay of this course will combine textual analysis, research, and
application of any relevant criticism to a particular author, issues(s), or
text(s) emerging from the course; this will be the extended version of your
conference presentation. This essay is
your opportunity to engage with the field of Indigenous literary criticism; it
will reflect familiarity with the literatures, scholarship, communities, and
issues of the field, as well as thoughtful analysis and rigorous argument. It must be well-written and free of errors in
style or substance (see below). The
essay should be between 17 and 25 pages in length and follow either MLA or
Another option would be to work on the service learning project, which will emerge from volunteer service with an organization that serves the needs of the Toronto Aboriginal community, particularly Two-Spirited peoples. (The organization doesn't need to be exclusively Aboriginal in focus, but it must have as a substantial part of its mandate the service of some segment of the Native community.) As each service learning project will vary according to the organization's need and the student's interests, you'll need to meet with me individually to determine the nature and scope of this option. All service learning projects will include a written component (minimum 10 pages), with a minimum of twenty hours service with one or more organization(s). A copy of the final project must be made available to your service group/organization. This option is available with professor approval only. Speak to me early in the term for suggestions, guidelines, and service learning agreement form.
Grading and late penalties
All grades will be determined according to policies
and instructions issued by the
All assignments are due on the date listed (or, in the case of critical analysis, the date of your discussion moderation) unless excused by emergency or unless we make other arrangements prior to the due date. Otherwise, I don't accept late work.
A note about academic writing . . .
With either choice of final project, the written component, like the best scholarly writing, should be clear, well-crafted, and free of gratuitous jargon and intentionally vague or muddled syntax. Our job as scholars and teachers is to communicate our ideas and arguments, not to befog our audience with arrogant, convoluted prose. Sometimes specialized jargon is necessary shorthand for complex ideas, but even then moderation is generally the best approach, especially if your audience is likely to include non-specialists. Good prose needn't be transparent or simplistic -- sometimes the most meaningful texts are the ones that we have to work hard to understand -- but it should at least be accessible to thoughtful people who are familiar with the conventions of the particular scholarly field.
(all assignments and dates tentative and subject to change)
*=primary text of discussion
WEEK ONE, Thursday, Sept. 11th (at 7 KCC) -- Roots and Foundations
Sign up for discussion moderation day
Materials from 2-Spirit People of the First Nations
TWO, Sept. 18th -- Is Queer Spoken Here?:
(MEET AT FIRST NATIONS HOUSE: PERMANENT LOCATION)
*Maurice Kenney (Mohawk), "Tinselled Bucks: A Historical Study in Indian Homosexuality"
*Sue-Ellen Jacobs, "Is the 'North American Berdache' Merely a Phantom in the Imagination of Western Social Scientists?"
*Bruce Trigger, "The Past as Power: Anthropology and the North American Indian"
*Sabine Lang, "Various Kinds of Two-Spirit People: Gender Variance and Homosexuality in Native American Communities"
WEEK THREE, Sept. 25th
Daniel is gone to the Society for the Study of American Women Writers Conference. No class this week, but be ready for vigorous discussion on the 2nd!
WEEK FOUR, Oct. 2nd -- Two-Spirit Women: Race and Gender
*Chrystos (Menominee), "They're Always Telling Me I'm Too Angry"
Paula Gunn Allen (Laguna Pueblo/Sioux), "Hwame, Koshkalaka, and the Rest: Lesbians in American Indian Cultures"
Tara Prince-Hughes, "Contemporary Two-Spirit Identity in the Fiction of Paula Gunn Allen and Beth Brant" (available online at http://oncampus.richmond.edu/faculty/ASAIL/SAIL2/104.html)
[Also Recommended books by Brant: Mohawk Trail; A Gathering of Spirit, ed.]
WEEK FIVE, Oct. 9th -- Regarding the Indian Closet: Coming Out, Staying In, and the Transformative Possibilities of Desire
*Craig S. Womack (Muskogee Creek/Cherokee), Drowning in Fire
Womack, "Politicizing HIV Prevention in Indian Country"
Womack, "Lynn Riggs as Code Talker: Toward a Queer Oklahomo Theory and the Radicalization of Native American Studies"
[Also Recommended: "Howling at the Moon: The Queer But True Story of My Life as a Hank Williams Song"; Red on Red: Native American Literary Separatism]
WEEK SIX, Oct. 16th -- Queer by Nature or Circumstance?: Varied Voices
*Tomson Highway (Cree), The Rez Sisters OR Kiss of the Fur Queen
Sherman Alexie (Spokane/Coeur d'Alene), "The Toughest Indian in the World"
Terry Tafoya (Taos/Warm Springs
[Also Recommended: Highway, Dry Lips Oughta Move to Kapuskasing]
WEEK SEVEN, Oct. 23rd -- Braided Pain and Hope: Challenging Multiple Oppressions
*Chrystos (Menominee), Fire Power
Beverly Little Thunder (Standing Rock Lakota), "I Am a Lakota Womyn"
Beatrice Medicine (Standing Rock Lakota), "Changing Native American Roles in an Urban Context and Changing Native American Sex Roles in an Urban Context"
[Recommended: Not Vanishing; In Her I Am]
WEEK EIGHT, Oct. 30th -- Complicated Stories: Presenting All Parts of Ourselves
*Gregory Sarris (Miwok/Pomo), Watermelon Nights
Keeping Slug Woman Alive: A Holistic
Approach to American Indian Texts;
Conference paper abstracts
WEEK NINE, November 6th--Thriving, Not Just Surviving: The Next Step of Resistance
*Joy Harjo (Mvskoke), In Mad Love and War
Harjo and Gloria Bird
[Recommended: Map to the Next World; She Had Some Horses]
WEEK TEN, November 13th - - Words of Fire and Spirit: Native Poets Speak
Gould (Maidu), Earthquake Weather; AND/OR
Scofield (Métis), Love Medicine and One Song; AND/OR
Driskill (Cherokee/Osage/Lenape/Lumbee), Burning Upward Flight; AND/OR
Miranda (Esselen/Chumash), Deer. [Choose at least two.]
►DUE: Conference paper abstracts
WEEK ELEVEN, November 20th
Academic conferences and other issues of professionalization; bring questions
WEEK TWELVE, November 27th
COURSE CONFERENCE, day 1
WEEK THIRTEEN, December 4th
COURSE CONFERENCE, day 2 (1st hour)
►DUE: Final paper/project
ABORIGINAL STUDIES BACKGROUND
Howard Adams (Métis), Prison of Grass:
Taiaiake Alfred (Kahnawake Mohawk), Peace, Power, Righteousness: An Indigenous Manifesto (Don Mills, ON: Oxford UP, 1999)
Marie Battiste (Potlo'tek Mi'kmaq), ed., Reclaiming Indigenous Voice and Vision
Robert F. Berkhofer, Jr., The White Man's Indian: Images of the American Indian from Columbus to the Present (New York: Vintage, 1979)
Jack D. Forbes (Powhatan-Renápe/Delaware-Lenápe), "Nature and Culture: Problematic Concepts for Native Americans" (in Ayaangwaamizin: The International Journal of Indigenous Philosophy, 1.2 (1997), pp. 3-22.)
Tom Holm (Cherokee/Creek), J. Diane Pearson, and Ben Chavis (Lumbee), "Peoplehood: A Model for the Extension of Sovereignty in American Indian Studies" (in Wicazo Sa Review (Spring 2003), pp. 7-24.
M. Annette Jaimes
(Juaneño/Yaqui), ed., The State of
Paul Robert Magocsi,
ed., Aboriginal Peoples of
Dennis McPherson (Couchiching
Ojibwa), "A Definition of Culture:
Roy Harvey Pearce, Savagism and Civilization: A Study of the Indian and the American Mind (Berkeley: U of California P, 1953)
Dale Turner (Teme-Augama Anishnabai), "Vision: Towards an Understanding of Aboriginal Sovereignty" (in Canadian Political Philosophy: Contemporary Reflections, Ronald Beiner and Wayne Norman, eds. (Don Mills, ON: Oxford UP, 2000), pp. 318-331)