Southwest Women Writers: Healing from History

Course Description

Drawing on Adrienne Rich's claim that women's literature and multicultural literature vigorously resist the amnesia and nostalgia that characterize mainstream North American culture, we will examine the struggles toward collective memory in contemporary women's writing.  We will give some attention to the literary strategies that call attention to the gaps and silences of official histories.  At the same time, these literary strategies allow the authors to narrate resonant counterhistories.  These contemporary women writers seek to reconstruct historical narratives in their texts and thereby reinvigorate historical memory in contemporary American culture at the same time that they reveal the relationship between culture and health.  Whether due to the history of gender oppression, marginalization, diaspora, colonial oppression or the subversion of traditional culture by modernity, illness can only be overcome when the cultural construction of and historical link to disease is recognized.  Collaborative work and oral work is expected throughout the semester. 


  Linda Hogan, Woman Who Watches Over the World
  Fae Myenne Ng, Bone
  Terry Tempest Williams, Refuge
  Ana Castillo, So Far From God
  Sheila Ortiz Taylor, Coachella
  Kleya Forte-Escamilla, The Storyteller With Nike Airs and other Barrio Stories


Week One  

Tuesday 8/24



Thursday 8/26


Rita Charon, "Narrative Medicine" and "Narrative and Medicine" (alternative link)

Christiane Brems, "Using Stories for Growing and Healing"

James W. Pennebaker, "Telling Stories: The Health Benefits of Narrative"

Adrienne Rich, "Resisting Amnesia: History and Personal Life" from Blood, Bread, and Poetry

Week Two

Tuesday 8/31


Mary Hunter Austin, "Walking Woman" (online)

Helena Maria Viramontes, "The Moths" and "Introduction" by Yvonne Yarbro-Bejarano

Sandra Cisneros, "Woman Hollering Creek"

Thursday 9/2


Kleya Forte-Escamilla, The Storyteller With Nike Airs pp. 1-75

Week Three

Tuesday 9/7

  The Storyteller With Nike Airs pp. 77-160

Gregory Schneider and Mark DeHaven, "Revisiting the Navajo Way: Lessons for Contemporary Healing"

Thursday 9/9

  Terry Tempest Williams, Refuge pp. 1-95

Week Four

Tuesday 9/14

  Refuge pp. 96-203


Thursday 9/16

  Refuge pp. 204-290


Week Five

Tuesday 9/21


Linda Hogan, Woman Who Watches Over the World, pp. 1-40

Thursday 9/23


Woman Who Watches Over the World, pp. 40-79

Week Six

Tuesday 9/28


Woman Who Watches Over the World, pp. 80-112


Michael E. Harkin, "Feeling and Thinking in Memory and Forgetting: Toward an Ethnohistory of the Emotions"

Thursday 9/30

  Woman Who Watches Over the World, pp. 113-142

Week Seven

Tuesday 10/5

  Woman Who Watches Over the World, pp. 143-207

Thursday 10/7

  Sheila Ortiz Taylor, Coachella, pp. 1-91

Week Eight

Tuesday 10/12

  Coachella, pp. 95-187

Thursday 10/14


Fall Break

Week Nine
Tuesday 10/19   Present research to class from 9/21 and 9/23; annotated bibliographies due
Thursday 10/21   Fae Myenne Ng, Bone, pp. 1-54
Week Ten
Tuesday 10/26   Bone, pp. 55-102
Thursday 10/28   Bone, pp. 103-155
Week Eleven (back to top)
Tuesday 11/2   Bone, pp. 156-194
Thursday 11/4   Ana Castillo, So Far From God, pp. 1-58
Week Twelve
Tuesday 11/9   So Far From God, pp. 59-119
Thursday 11/11   So Far From God, pp. 120-169
Week Thirteen
Tuesday 11/16   So Far From God, pp. 170-252
Thursday 11/18  

Milosz, Chapter 5 from The Witness of Poetry

Paula Gunn Allen, "Answering the Deer: Genocide and Continuance in the Poetry of American Indian Women"

Week Fourteen
Tuesday 11/23   Adrienne Rich, "History Stops for No One" from What is Found There: Notebooks on Poetry and Politics
Gloria Bird, "Breaking the Silence: Writing as Witness," from Speaking for the Generations
Linda Hogan, “Tear” and "Sickness" from The Book of Medicines
Della Frank, “T'áá Diné Nishli”
Thursday 11/25   Harvest Celebration
Week Fifteen
Tuesday 11/30   Roma Heillig Morris, "The Whole Story: Nature, Healing, and Narrative in the Native American Wisdom Tradition"
Joy Harjo, "The Dawn Appears with Butterflies," "Morning Song"
Thursday 12/2  

Joy Harjo, "The Woman Hanging from the 13th Floor Window," "I Give You Back" (online)

Paula Gunn Allen, "Dear World";

Week Sixteen (back to top)
Tuesday 12/7    paper presentations
Thursday 12/9    paper presentations; final research paper due