Cherokee/Choctaw scholar Louis Owens declared that all Native novels are centrally occupied with recovering and (re)articulating an Indigenous sense of identity from within the discursive and linguistic contexts of colonialism. For Owens, this inherently dialogic process draws heavily on elements of the oral tradition and finds its most powerful articulation in the mixed-blood protagonist. Often depicted as a mongrel degradation of both Indian and non-Indian peoples, Owens argues that the mixedblood becomes in the work of Native writers a figure of possibility and transformation whose return home signals not a loss of authenticity but an attempt by Native writers to write themselves into “other destinies and other plots.”
Though important for its attention to the intersections between Native, narrative, and postcolonial studies, some criticize Owens' work for unnecessarily privileging the mixedblood experience and foregrounding mediation and negotiation with the colonial center at the expense of local and diasporic Indigenous experiences and histories. Still others question the practical efficacy of postcolonial theory (i.e. after colonialism) to address the politics of Native writing. Informed by the questions organizing this debate, this reading-intensive course examines the Native novel/novella from its emergence to the present day, paying particular attention to the ways in which critical methodologies define and delimit understandings of the politics of Native writing.
Multicultural, Identity, Pluralism, and Tolerance (IP) courses examine the social construction of collective identities, the emergence of representative voices from varying social and cultural standpoints, and the effects of prejudice, intolerance, and discrimination. The purpose of courses in this category is to analyze the general principles underlying tolerance, or the lack of it.
Literature, 1789 to the present courses focus on literary work produced over more than two centuries -- from the period of British romanticism and the early republic of the United States up to now -- in order to foster familiarity with key works in British and American literary history. Literary history illustrates how literary works reflect, address, and resist the social and political environments in which they are produced as well as other works that have preceded them.
Empire, Race, and/or Ethnicity courses focus on ways that race matters in literature, media, and culture. Recent courses have examined such matters as native American literature and film; nineteenth-century writings by slavers and enslaved people in the U.S. and British colonies; fiction and filmmaking in post-apartheid South Africa; Latinx science fiction and environmental justice, and the novels of Toni Morrison.
English Minor courses offer students centuries of cultural experience and representation in poetry, prose, drama, film, TV, new media, and folk artifacts. The English minor can focus and extend the values of a liberal arts education, while also providing extensive training in writing, speaking, and critical thinking.