Liberal Arts 133 | 32 Campus Drive | Missoula, MT | 406.243.5231

Course Descriptions

Spring 2015



Please be advised that the Montana University System is moving toward common numbering for all courses at all public institutions in Montana. The prefixes for many courses have changed as part of this conversion. For example, all ENLT courses are now known as LIT courses. For more information, please visit New Course Numbers.

For more information, please see The Catalogue.



CRWR 210 - Introduction to Creative Writing: Fiction

Offered every term. An introductory writing workshop focused on the reading, discussion, and revision of students' short fiction. Students will also be introduced to models of fiction techniques. No prior experience in writing short fiction required.

Learning outcomes:

Acquire foundational skills in reading, discussing and writing short fiction

Demonstrate an understanding of the terminology and concepts that apply to fiction

Practice the art of writing and revising short fiction

Learn to critique the quality of one’s own work and that of fellow students


CRWR 211 - Introduction to Creative Writing: Poetry

Offered every term. An introductory writing workshop focused on the reading, discussion, and revision of students' poems. Students also will be introduced to models of poetic techniques. No prior experience in writing poetry required.

Learning outcomes:

Acquire foundational skills in reading, discussing and writing poetry

Demonstrate an understanding of the terminology and concepts that apply to poetry

Practice the art of writing and revising poetry

Learn to critique the quality of one’s own work and that of fellow students


CRWR 212 - Introduction to Creative Writing: Nonfiction

Offered every semester. Study of the art of nonfiction through reading and responding to contemporary nonfiction and the writing of original nonfiction works. Focus is on creative expression, writing technique and nonfiction forms.  Students begin with writing exercises and brief essays, advancing to longer forms as the semester progresses.

Learning outcomes:

Acquire foundational skills in reading, discussing and writing essays

Demonstrate an understanding of the terminology and concepts that apply to creative nonfiction

Practice the art of writing and revising nonfiction works

Learn to critique the quality of their one’s work and that of fellow students


CRWR 410 - Advanced Fiction Writing - Deirdre McNamer

This is a fiction-writing course for students who have completed CRWR 310 or its equivalent, and who have been admitted on the basis of a writing sample submitted to me. We will investigate - through a series of written exercises, responses to published work, classroom discussion, and student stories (two stories and a revision) - some of the key elements of writing compelling fiction, among them voice, point of view, characterization, description, setting, tension, and plot.

This is not a class in which I will stand before you to impart information, and you will digest it, synthesize it, and feed it back to me on exams or papers. It is hands on; that is - like a ceramicist, a dancer, a musician or an athlete - you will learn by doing. Your materials will be language and imagination and passion. Your success will depend, quite directly, on how much you practice, how closely you pay attention, how willing you are to take chances, what kind of ear-for-language you are able to develop, and how well you learn to read.

No fantasy or sci-fi in either the writing sample or the stories you write for class discussion.


CRWR 412 [FILM 481] - Advanced Nonfiction Workshop - Judy Blunt

A senior-level nonfiction workshop that uses documentary film as text

In addition to writing and reviewing creative nonfiction in a traditional workshop setting, students will screen a variety of documentaries with an eye to parallels between narrative nonfiction and documentary film. Our focus will be storytelling, studying the ways stories are rendered whether viewed on film or paper. Topics of discussion will include narrative nonfiction craft and techniques; documentary traditions, content and structure; and the creative, ethical and conceptual choices that arise in the making of either form. Films will be screened during our regular class meetings, followed by essay workshop. Students will write short responses to each documentary and post to the Moodle site. Because this is a three-hour class that meets once per week, attendance is mandatory.

Manuscript submission is required - see English Department fliers for details. Course will remain open until filled. FILM majors and majors from related disciplines are welcome.


CRWR 491 - Special Topics: The Imagination as Cover Story/the Cover Story as Influential Text - Thomas Sayers Ellis

In an age of presumed false flags and rampant media and political spin, this course will explore the ways truth is invented and destroyed and how the tools used to do both alter and enhance what becomes the Historical Record, the reservoir of memory which influences the Imagination and Creative Writing. For instance, does Don Dellilo's Libra owe more to the (known and unknown) facts of November 22, 1963 than it does to the Conspiracy Realist world of Assassination Researchers who often uncover a shadowy, unofficial narrative of relationships that dive deeper than the news cycle will allow and that never becomes truth? We will read poems, non-fiction, journalism, and fiction keeping our interests on the gap between what gets told and what does not, and why. We will create Creative and oppositional narratives, based on eye witness testimony (and possibility) to some of the recent, important and contested events.


CRWR 516 - Cross-Genre Special Topics: The Prose Poem - Karen Volkman

This exploration of the prose poem takes a practice-based approach - we will look at examples from early practitioners to current innovators and jump off from their varied expressions of the hybrid form. Readings include work by Charles Baudelaire, Gertrude Stein, Italo Calvino, Lydia Davis, Anne Carson, and Harryette Mullen. Gesturing toward a range of genres (biography, essay, epistle, fable, among others), the prose poem is at home in none. We will engage this restless, mutable animal in some of its favorite habitats, leaving many more for your future encounters. Open to grad students in poetry, fiction, and non-fiction.


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ENT 545 - Theories and Pedagogies of Literacy - Heather E. Bruce

The central premise of this course is that what we learn and know about a subject is revealed in language, whether verbal or symbolic. Language is always already embedded in a cultural context. Therefore, to be able to understand complex uses of language, we must also understand the context in which language is used. Becoming literate in an academic context requires an understanding of the complex embeddedness of language use in all its global and local contexts, which include, but are not limited to the cultural contexts of the society, of the school, of the discipline, and of the classroom. To teach literate practices to students in the secondary school, literacy must be understood within all its cultural contexts.

Literacy is and always has been an intensely ideological and political concern. In this course we will centrally question the relations among culture, language, literacy, teaching, and learning that are assumed by various assumptions about literacy and learning. The course takes as a given that literacy is a civil right and that it has been used as a tool for both promoting and denying social justice. The stated goal of this course is to define and understand literacy and literacy practices in English teaching that forward social justice rather than thwart it. That puts our work at conscious odds with much of what passes as literacy learning and achievement in American educational projects. As future teachers of language and literacy, we will want to develop habits of mind and ways of looking at teaching and learning that promote literacy for social justice rather than the violence of literacy (most recently exemplified by the wrongheaded practices of “No Child Left Behind”) that passes erroneously as democratic approaches to education.

The course is unapologetically political in its motivation which is to learn to teach literate practices and behaviors in ways that promote the democratic ideals of equity and justice for all.


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COMPOSITION: During autumn semester, WRIT 101 is restricted to students whose last names begin with the letters A-L. During spring semester, WRIT 101 is restricted to students whose last names begin with the letters M-Z.

WRIT 101 - College Writing I (Prereq: ENEX 100/WTS 100/WTS 100D/WRIT 095D completion, proof of appropriate SAT/ACT essay, combined English/writing, writing section scores, appropriate MUSWA scores, or proof of passing scores on Writing Placement Exam)

Expository prose and research paper; emphasis on structure, argument, development of ideas, clarity, style, and diction. Students expected to write without major faults in grammar or usage.


WRIT 201 - College Writing II (Prereq: WRIT 101, Lower-Division Writing Course)

In this course, we will be studying the essay as the truly ubiquitous genre it is. It could be argued that the essay is the most prevalent genre of writing present in contemporary American culture since this broad category includes things like academic essays, editorials, blogs, travel journals, and sports writing, to name a few. Our study this semester will focus on the way arguments are made, and you will have the opportunity to study arguments as a reader and enact those practices as a writer.

Much of your work in this class will involve different kinds of collaboration, including small group workshops and discussions that will take place in class. Because writing development is an important process that takes place over time an across different writing situations, all WRIT 201 classes use portfolio evaluation as a primary means of evaluation. By the end of the semester you should be able to accurately and subtly assess a given rhetorical situation and make effective rhetorical choices based your assessment. And you should be able to write a graceful, convincing, beautifully written argument.

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LIT 120 - Introduction to Poetry - John Glendening

An introduction to reading and writing about poems, with emphasis on the lyric and other shorter forms. Students will be expected, by the end of the course, to have achieved the following: (1) enhanced appreciation of poetry and of creative language, (2) knowledge of different poetic forms and genres, (3) knowledge of relevant terms and concepts, (4) ability to identify themes, tactics, and meanings in poems, (5) insight into several cultural areas explored in poetry, (6) knowledge of the work of several important poets; (7) fulfillment of W course requirements.

Text: David Mason and John Frederick Nims, Western Wind: An Introduction to Poetry


LIT 201 - Introduction to Literary Studies - Rob Browning

This course is an introduction to the English major and the discipline of literary studies more broadly. Our primary purpose will be for each participant to become a more perceptive reader of literature in the genres of poetry, drama, and prose fiction. While we will study a small selection of works from these three genres, the course is designed chiefly to help students acquire and practice the transferable skills one needs to read and write about literary works, of any sort, beyond the scope of our particular readings and assignments. Students will gain familiarity with the conventions of and the expectations for writing about literature at the college level.

Required Texts: Jane Hirshfield, Nine Gates: Entering the Mind of Poetry (Harper, 1998); William Shakespeare, A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Penguin, 2000); Nathaniel Hawthorne’s Tales (Norton Critical Edition, 1987); Margaret Atwood, Oryx and Crake (Anchor, 2004).


LIT 221 - British Literature: Enlightenment to Romantics - Rob Browning

This course surveys the rich variety of British literature composed between 1660 and 1830, beginning with selections from John Milton’s epic Paradise Lost and concluding with Mary Shelley's novel Frankenstein. Romantic authors such as William Blake, Anna Barbauld, William Wordsworth, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, and the Shelleys (Mary and Percy) thought of themselves as kindred spirits with Milton, sharing a vision for imaginative writing and cultural change inspired by the political revolutions of their respective times. Between these visionary "peaks" of early modern literature is "the Enlightenment," a period of mounting optimism about the power of reason to advance knowledge in science and philosophy, to reform religion, and to promote social justice. The core of this course will be our examination of the different ways creative writers engage with the promises of Enlightenment ideals, which will involve thinking about the cultural workings of different literary kinds: chiefly, heroic verse, satire, the novel, and the lyric. Our main critical approach, therefore, shall be to study aesthetic forms within the context of the time they were composed.

Required Texts: The Norton Anthology of English Literature, volumes C and D; John Milton, Paradise Lost (any edition); William Wycherley, The Country Wife (U. of Nebraska P.); Mary Shelley, Frankenstein (Norton Critical Edition).


LIT 291 - The Environmental Imagination - David Gilcrest

LIT 291 is designed to introduce students to the many discourses of nature. In this course we will approach “natural history” as a complex literary genre grounded in personal experience of the “more-than-human” world (in David Abram’s now ubiquitous phrase).

While the study of natural history writing has historically focused on authors like Gilbert White, Henry David Thoreau, John Muir, and John Burroughs (as prominent practitioners of the personal narrative essay that explores the natural world), a more thorough understanding of the genre requires a broad chronological context. We should not be surprised that even within the shifting boundaries of Anglo-American natural history writing, conceptions of “nature” have changed dramatically over time - which is to say, the “nature” we encounter in the work of authors under the banner of ecological science, quantum physics, or the threat of imminent environmental collapse (to name but three of many possible influences) is not likely to be the same “nature” we encounter in White or Thoreau or Muir or Burroughs.

Because one’s experience of nature is profoundly shaped by personal and cultural identity, an adequate approach to natural history writing would also need to include consideration of the role race, class, and gender (for example) play in shaping discourses of nature. Further, consideration of non-Anglo-American traditions (including, for example, a range of Native American and Asian “literary” practices) expands our understanding of those traditions as it allows us to see the Anglo-American tradition in useful perspective.


LIT 331 - Virginia Woolf – Bob Baker

Virginia Woolf (1882-1941) is a great English novelist of the first half of the twentieth century. A modernist, a writer who bends the conventions of the realist tradition in which she works, she wants to disclose dimensions of life that she feels cannot be disclosed through the usual techniques of the nineteenth-century novel. She is a feminist, a fine satirist (when the mood comes upon her), a penetrating psychologist, and a gifted lyricist. She is a secular mystic. Above all, like Marcel Proust, her great French contemporary, she is an artist of memory, haunted by what is missing, concerned to recover lost depths of time.

In this course we will study six of Woolf’s major novels, from Jacob’s Room (1922) to Between the Acts (1941), as well as a few of her short stories, a few of her essays on modern fiction, one or two of her autobiographical writings, and her book-length essay A Room of One’s Own. We will attend to the social and cultural contexts of her work, and to the changing reception of her work over the last century, but our primary concern will be to explore the novels in detail.


Provisional reading list: Jacob’s Room, Mrs. Dalloway, To the Lighthouse, Orlando, A Room of One’s Own, The Waves, Between the Acts, Moments of Being, The Common Reader.


LIT 370 - Science Fiction: outer space and inner space - Rob Browning

For the first half of this course, with our authors as our guides, we will explore modern deep space - the domain of rocket ships, star systems, and extraterrestrial civilizations. Most of our reading in this area of space will coincide with the period of science fiction known as "the Golden Age," led in the 1940s and 50s by authors such as Isaac Asimov, Robert A. Heinlein, and Arthur C. Clarke and mentored by the editors John Campbell and H. L. Gold. We'll devote our energies to appreciating the motivations behind these imaginative ventures into the physical unknown and to analyzing what "outer space" variously has meant to writers and readers of the post-world war era.  Sometime in March we'll harken to the contrary call of J. G. Ballard, who urged in 1962 that "science fiction should turn its back on space, on interstellar travel, extra-terrestrial life forms, galactic wars and the overlap of these ideas that spreads across the margins of nine-tenths of magazine s-f" and explore, instead, the “inner spaces” of our cognitive, psychological, biological, and cultural worlds. This part of the course will coincide with the SF movement known as “the New Wave,” as defined by authors associated with the British magazine New Worlds and as amplified by authors such as Philip K. Dick and James Tiptree, Jr. (a.k.a., Alice Sheldon). We will assess New Wave criticisms of mainstream science fiction and examine the ways authors associated with the movement sought to revitalize the genre and to bolster its literary standards. We’ll conclude the semester with study of texts and films that will help us make sense of the aftermath of the struggle between Golden Age and New Wave visions and sensibilities.

Required texts: The Wesleyan Anthology of Science Fiction (2010); Olaf Stapledon, Star Maker (Dover, 2008); Robert Heinlein, Have Spacesuit, Will Travel (Pocket, 2005); Stanislaw Lem, Solaris (Harvest, 1987); J. G. Ballard, The Drowned World (Liveright, 2013); Arthur C. Clarke, 2001: A Space Odyssey (Roc, 2000); Philip K. Dick, Ubik (any edition); James Tiptree, Jr., Her Smoke Rose Up Forever (Tachyon, 2004).

Graded work: two essays, two exams, and a collaborative presentation.


LIT 420 - Pastoral, Vitalism, and Ecology - Bob Baker

This course is a study of the relations between a couple of older literary and philosophical traditions, pastoral and vitalism, and certain ways of seeing in contemporary ecological thought.

Pastoral is a literary mode that in its origins idealizes the life of shepherds, and that later tends to represent the natural world as a source of value. Yet from its beginnings it has had a twofold vision: it has idealized rural life or the natural world from the point of view of urban life, thus articulating an evaluative if often ironic opposition between the rural and the urban, the country and the court, the simple and the complex, the older and the newer. It has always been vulnerable to charges of escapism, nostalgia, projection, and mystification. But, too, it has usually voiced a criticism of the urban world (or of society in general), at times a criticism inseparable from human longings as old as myth, including the longing for a reconciliation between the human world and the natural world.

Vitalism is a philosophical perspective that sees life as moved by, and shaped by, a spirit or a power or an elan vital immanent in life. It is a perspective that has often been set in opposition to both dualist and materialist pictures of reality. In a looser sense, or in a literary sense, vitalism is an affirmation of the expansive energy intrinsic to life. In any case, vitalism, or something like vitalism, has taken some curious turns in contemporary philosophy.

Ecology is in part the study of the dialectical relationship between human society and the natural world. Societies in the past have sometimes done great damage to the environments on which they have depended. The idea that only modern industrial society has done this, that once upon a time all was balance and virtue, is a version of pastoral. To say this is not to deny historical difference. Scientists and ecologists of our time fear that modern society, with its unprecedented technological power and scope, is in the process of destroying the conditions of much life, including human life, on the planet: or, put another way, in the process of bringing about a kind of planetary anti-reconciliation.

Provisional reading list: Shakespeare, As You Like It; Wordsworth, Selected Poems; William Empson, Some Versions of Pastoral; Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari, A Thousand Plateaus, or Félix Guattari, The Three Ecologies; Jane Bennett, The Enchantment of Modern Life; Max Horkheimer and Theodor Adorno, Dialectic of Enlightenment; Alfred Crosby, Ecological Imperialism; Jared Diamond, Collapse, or Clive Ponting, A New Green History of the World; Robert Pogue Harrison, The Dominion of the Dead; and a course packet with poems by Theocritus and Virgil as well as essays by Northrop Frye, Paul Alpers, Leo Marx, John Barrell, Murray Bookchin, Carolyn Merchant, and Naomi Klein.


LIT 430 - The Medieval Literature of Love - Ashby Kinch

The Twelfth Century Renaissance in France was a period of wild intellectual and artistic ferment, as major innovations in architecture, theology, philosophy, and poetry stimulated a wide array of experiments in the arts that would shape European culture for the next three centuries and beyond. Amid this dynamic cultural revolution, centered in France, a discourse focused on the nature of human love emerged to stimulate crucial innovations in literature, particularly the romance and the lyric, that would deeply influence later, major European authors, including Dante and Chaucer. In this course, we will examine the range of psychological, social, historical, and theological issues that emerged from this discourse, observing the ways in which various authors negotiate the competing ideas available in secular and sacred notions of love. We will take up major philosophical and artistic statements on the nature and meaning of love in human life, including, but not limited to: the role of desire in structuring life decisions; the social function of marriage; the ordering and disordering effects of love; and the language of deviance. We will read well-known texts in the literature of love, like Heloise and Abelard’s love letters and Andreas Capellanus’ Art of Courtly Love. We will also read the wild and provocative poems of sexual love written by the troubadours and trobairitz, even as explore the way the burgeoning romance genre harnessed these energies in chivalric and courtly contexts (Marie de France’s Lais and Chretien de Troyes’ romances).

We will bring these texts into productive friction with modern ideas of love and sexuality, generating through discussion our own discourse on the ennobling, infuriating, empowering, and incapacitating powers of human love.  Since writing represents the most powerful intellectual instrument through which we can engage with literary texts, students will do a lot of writing in this course, from weekly position papers on the reading, to comparative analyses of texts, to longer research papers. The aim is to cultivate in students the desire to use their writing as a tool in developing their thought, an intrinsic feature of engagement with good thinking.

Undergraduates will write weekly reading responses a short comparative paper (4-6 pp.), and a longer research paper (10-12 pp). For the graduate increment, graduate students will have biweekly readings in criticism, theory, and supplemental literary and historical texts; make 1-2 critical presentations to the class; and write a long, analytical research essay (15-20 pp.).

Required Texts:

The Song of Solomon (or, Song of Songs) (handout)

Bernart of Clairvaux, excerpts from Sermons on the Song of Songs (MOODLE)

Selections of Troubadour Poetry (MOODLE)

The Letters of Abelard and Heloise, tr. w/ intro. Betty Radice. London: Penguin Books, 1974.

Chretien de Troyes, The Complete Romances of Chretien de Troyes, tr. w/ intro. David Staines. Bloomington and Indianapolis: Indiana University Press, 1990.

Andrea Capellanus. The Art of Courtly Love, tr. w/ intro. John Jay Parry. New York: Columbia University Press, 1990.

Marie de France. Lais, tr. w/ intro. Robert Hanning and Joan Ferrante. Durham, North Carolina: The Labyrinth Press, 1982.


LIT 520 - Imperialism and Romance in British Fiction - John Glendening

Investigating how imperialism informs nineteenth- and twentieth-century British fictions, this seminar concentrates on the relationship between, on the one hand, the adventure and exoticism of imperial romances and, on the other, more realistic representations that complicate the meanings of imperialistic ideas and practices. Important will be understanding history and culture regarding such factors as geopolitics, economics, class systems, literacy, gender, evolutionary theory, racism, and anthropology. The primary texts for the course intermix genres and orientations, including popular and highbrow fiction, stories aimed at young readers and adults, and celebrations and critiques of imperialism. These fictions convey the satisfactions, hopes, and anxieties experienced by the British during the years when their empire dominated much of the globe. The course is based on weekly discussions of readings and, for each student, directed toward a seminar paper due at the end of the semester.

Texts will include most of the following:

Philip Meadows Taylor, Confessions of a Thug

Wilkie Collins, The Moonstone

H. Ryder Haggard, She

Arthur Conan Doyle, The Sign of the Four

Rudyard Kipling, "The Man Who Would Be King"

Bram Stoker, Dracula

Joseph Conrad, Heart of Darkness

Rudyard Kipling, Kim

E. M. Forster, A Passage to India

J. G. Farrell, The Siege of Krishnapur

Mathew Kneale, English Passengers


LIT 524 - Nature, Language Politics: Indigenous Theories of Animism

The human world is not just a cultural patchwork but also a political one. Tremendous numbers of men and women owe their allegiance not just, and sometimes not principally, to the state but also, or above all, to an entirely different “nation,” one that is often oppressed, maligned, castigated, and sometimes threatened with extinction; for no other reason than the mere fact of existing simultaneously with one or more nation-states.

This community-oriented dimension of human identity and membership, and the monistic tendencies of actual or aspiring nation-states to swallow it up or react to it with violence, has given human rights a global relevance. - Ronald Niezen. The Origins of Indigenism: Human Rights and the Politics of Identity 193

“The truth is the Ghost Dance did not end with the murder of Big Foot and one hundred and forty-four Ghost Dance worshipers at Wounded Knee. The Ghost Dance has never ended, it has continued, and the people have never stopped dancing; they may call it by other names, but when they dance, their hearts are reunited with the spirits of beloved ancestors and the loved ones recently lost in the struggle. Throughout the Americas, from Chile to Canada, the people have never stopped dancing; as the living dance, they are joined again with all our ancestors before them, who cry out, who demand justice, and who call the people to take back the Americas!” - Wilson Weasel Tail in Leslie Silko’s Almanac of the Dead 724

Prerequisites: This is an advanced course in Native American cultural studies and ecocriticism. Familiarity with Native American history, cultures, and literatures is necessary. Please talk to me if your grounding in this field is not solid.

This course reads a combination of Indigenous literary expression, research in ecocriticism, Native American cultural studies, and political theory. We consider especially where those areas of inquiry - and experience - combine in "community" to question ancient, modern, postmodern, and postcolonial ideas of nationhood in the political dimension and personhood in the spiritual dimension. Indigenous articulations of animism (for want of a better term), as they resonate with material feminism and quantum physics will open a door into reconsiderations of founding structures of Western thought such as mind and matter, civilization and wilderness. We'll be reading both literary and theoretical texts in "literature and the environment," in Indigenous studies, and in political science by writers from diverse backgrounds to gain perspectives on how contemporary questions of Indigenous world views bear on emerging shifts in modern approaches to nature and nation.

What do Native literary representations of authenticity, identity, community, and sovereignty suggest for approaches in ecocritical theory? How does Native humor and irony work in those representations? How do Indigenous structures of identity relate to various definitions of national identity and nationhood in a global culture? How do Indigenous structures of identity related to personhood within human communities and in the more-than-human world? How do contemporary and historical issues in Native Studies bear on literary questions in Native ecocriticism? How has ecocriticism developed so far, and in what directions does Native literature shape ecocritical reading? What aspects of Native literatures does ecocriticism clarify? How do Native American literatures represent interrelations of culture and nature, with what significance for ethics of land and literature? How do various Native literary constructs of gender relate to Native culture-nature systems? How does Native literature question the very binary of culture and nature? What is an ethics of criticism for interpretations and representations of Native cultural property? How are issues in Indian country of environmental degradation related legally, politically, historically, and ideologically to issues of race, class, and gender in America? What is the relation between environment and language? How does the land speak?

Following on the questions above about ecocriticism, Native American literature, national identity, about ontology and epistemology, the nature of being and knowing, the course also looks through more specific theoretical issues, and at the history of mainly American representations of the divide or non-divide of nature and culture. We will address some theoretical dimensions of that fundamental body/mind, nature/culture split of Western thinking versus philosophical systems of interrelation and balance in indigenous and other non-Western cultures. As theoretical background, we will trace the theoretical evolution of various takes on ecocriticism in relation to historical moments in critical theory, including originary Platonic idealism via romantic American transcendentalism and eventual pragmatism, with twentieth-century links to Russian formalism and Bakhtinian dialogics, New Criticism, phenomenology, structuralism and poststructuralism, through feminism and ethnic cultural studies. These perspectives will bear on the current discourse of “American Indian Literary Nationalism.”

Graduate students will have a chance to focus these and their own questions on this broad field. Each student should have solid background in Native American studies as well as literary theory and will be responsible for a substantial research project, for a presentation, and for participation in class discussions (which includes active listening). Each student will develop their own definitions of ecocriticism, of Native literary theory, and of modern nationhood and personhood, in relation to these theoretical roots. Depending on the needs of this particular set of students, there may be two short papers applying an ecocritical analysis to literary texts, in addition to the longer theoretical venture.

If a “sense of place” drives literature as the “environment” drives experience, how does literary study attend to that environment in a text? How are tribal sovereignty, community, identity, authenticity, and humor related to the natural environment of Native texts? How would an ecological approach to literature change the way it is written or read? How would ecological scientific insights about the “nature” of humanity and the rest of the animate and inanimate world change literary study? Literary attention to the environment - either its presence or it absence - in a story filters through some of the same lenses through which more common narrative elements such as character, plot, and setting are represented. For instance, those lenses may include gender in the feminization of the land. They may include race in the identification of the wilderness with Native Americans or earth with African Americans. They may include class in the politics and cultural values of land ownership and of working the land. We can understand stories on or off the land, in “streams” of consciousness, in “natural” and “unnatural” metaphors and analogies, in various mind maps, partly in terms of such ecological lenses. How we represent the land can be as much a projection of our own “nature” as a reflection of nature and the environment, so we can explore those projections as we read the land and its stories. We can explore different representations of the land from writers of different genders and ethnicities. If we begin to look at our representations of nature and of ourselves from an environmental or ecological perspective on Indigenous community, we begin to see new dynamics in the text.



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