Section Information for Fall 2020
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, right now—
—about traumas and horrors
—about 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 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 at least one 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!
ENGH 352 002 is a distance-learning section taught asynchronously.