ENGH 352: Topics in Ethnic American Literature

ENGH 352-001: Haunted Native America
(Fall 2019)

10:30 AM to 11:45 AM MW

Peterson Family Health Sciences Hall 1109

Section Information for Fall 2019

English 352: Haunted Native America

MW 10:30
Peterson Family Health Sciences Hall 1109
Professor Eric Gary Anderson

What do ghosts want? Why should we listen to ghosts and reckon with them? And why are there SO MANY ghosts, and hauntings, and monsters, in Native American and Indigenous literature? This course will be a field guide to the undead presences in very recent Native literature. We'll focus on several brilliant contemporary works of Native fiction, poetry, and non-fiction, almost all published in the 21st-century. As Avery Gordon argues in her book Ghostly Matters, "When a ghost appears, it is making contact with you; all its forceful if perplexing enunciations are for you." And so it seems important to try to understand what Indigenous ghosts want, and what they have to say TO US, right now—

—about our own traumas and horrors

—about our environments (because ghosts choose their locations carefully and because, as historian Coll Thrush observes, "examining ghost stories can be a sort of place-based methodology, in which hauntings gesture toward salient conflicts and patterns in the history of conquest. A ghost, in effect, is a place's past speaking to its—and our—present.")

—about our futures (because ghosts are all about the future, too, as we'll see)

—and about much more.

We'll also talk about how and why Indigenous writers create Indigenous ghosts and monsters. As it turns out, not all of these ghosts are scary—but what's the point of a Native ghost that's actually pretty sociable and helpful? We'll find out!

We'll read fiction (mostly) as well as some poetry and non-fiction, from both the U.S. and Canada, and all written by Native and Indigenous women and men, some straight and some queer, from a range of tribal nations. Almost everything we'll read is contemporary, published in the 21st century. And, especially because we're in a fabulous active learning classroom in Peterson, we'll do lots of hands-on in-class work; be ready to move around, to whiteboard, etc. We'll also do three writing projects; for some of these, you'll have both creative and critical-writing options.

As Gordon writes, "we will have to learn to talk to and listen to ghosts, rather than banish them" if we want to understand ourselves and our worlds. Hope you'll consider joining us!

Topic Varies


Course Information from the University Catalog

Credits: 3

Studies particular ethnic American literatures. Focuses on literatures such as Asian American, Native American, Latino/a, Arab American, or Jewish American. Notes: May be repeated when topic (expressed by course subtitle and content) is different. May be repeated within the term for a maximum 6 credits.
Recommended Prerequisite: Satisfaction of University requirements in 100-level English and in Mason Core literature.
Schedule Type: Lecture
This course is graded on the Undergraduate Regular scale.

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