ENGH 352: Topics in Ethnic American Literature

ENGH 352-002: Haunted Native America
(Fall 2021)

10:30 AM to 11:45 AM TR

East Building 134

Section Information for Fall 2021

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. 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!


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.
Specialized Designation: Topic Varies
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.

The University Catalog is the authoritative source for information on courses. The Schedule of Classes is the authoritative source for information on classes scheduled for this semester. See the Schedule for the most up-to-date information and see Patriot web to register for classes.