English 468.568--American Indian 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 Native 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.  Graduate students will be assigned teaching days, an article-length paper, and a book review; undergraduate students will be assigned 2, 6-page papers and a comprehensive final exam.  Everyone will be responsible for weekly writing assignments.


Linda Hogan, Woman Who Watches Over the World
Leslie Marmon Silko, Almanac of the Dead
Louise Erdrich, Tracks
Louise Erdrich, The Bingo Palace

Ann Folwell Stanford, Bodies in A Broken World
Gay Wilentz, Healing Narratives

"A nation is not conquered until the hearts of its
women are on the ground.
Then it is finished, no matter how brave its
warriors or how strong their weapons."
- Tsistsistas, Cheyennne

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