ENG488 202003 Undergraduate

Spring 2021
ENG 488
Applies To: 
Course Description: 

Screening, interpretation, and analysis of films from developing non-European cultures and by people of color. Mechanisms of racism in dominant U.S. media. Repeatable twice for a maximum of 12 credits.

Race and Representation in Film: Native American Cinema

Kirby Brown

Kirby Brown profile picture
  • Title: Associate Professor
  • Additional Title: Norman H. Brown Faculty Fellow, 2019-21; Director, Native American Studies
  • Phone: 541-346-5819
  • Office Hours: F21: Via Zoom - TUEs 3-4, WEDs & FRIs, 1-2, or by appt
  • Website: Website
Department Section Description: 

There is perhaps no image more widely recognized yet more grossly misunderstood in American popular culture than the “Indian.” Whether viewed as irredeemable savages and impediments to progress or as idealized possessors of primitive innocence and new-age spiritualism, “the Indian” stands as an anachronistic relic of a bygone era whose sacrifice on the altars of modernity and progress, while perhaps tragic, is both inevitable and necessary to the maintenance of narratives of US exceptionalism in the Americas. Of course, the Reel Indians produced by Hollywood say very little about Real Native peoples who not only refuse to vanish, but who consistently reject their prescribed roles in the US national imaginary, insisting instead on rights to rhetorical and representational sovereignty. Through a juxtaposition of cinematic and critical texts, this course explores the various ways in which Native-produced films from the late 1990s to the present contest—if not outright refuse—narrative, generic, and representational constructions of “the white man’s Indian” on the way to imagining more complex possibilities and futures for “Real Indians” in the twenty-first century. 



Media, Folklore, and/or Culture courses focus on print and non-print media to explore culture and its processes of creative expression.


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

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.