Often framed as an early 20th century aesthetic movement defined by formal innovation and radical experimentation and associated with a cohort of metropolitan American, British, and European artists and writers, work in modernist studies over the past fifteen years has greatly expanded the conceptual, historical, stylistic, and cultural terrain of the field. We now speak of multiple modernisms responding to multiple modernities operating across multiple geographies articulated by a diverse array of writers within both “high” and popular forms. While these shifts have productively complicated the central terms, frameworks, and periodicities that organize the field, Native American and Indigenous writers, texts, and cultural productions have remained largely absent from these conversations.
Grounded in contemporary Indigenous, settler colonial, and comparative ethic studies, this class addresses an absence in contemporary modernist studies by exploring how we think about Indigenous lives, literatures, and cultural productions in North America from the late-19th through the mid-20th century. Though often positioned as antitheses to both modernity and progress, a host of Indigenous writers, artists, performers, intellectuals, and activists worked in an array of venues and across a diversity of genres and forms to intervene in the modes of representation and discourse through which their lives, lands, and futures were being decided. Attending to such dynamics across tribal-specific, transindigenous and transnational contexts, this course troubles the relationships between and indigeneity, modernity, and the "modern" while also resituating Indigenous actors as central contributors to and active co-creators of some of the most important political currents, aesthetic movements, and intellectual conversations of their time.