As Stephen Graham Jones writes in his essay, “Letter to a Just-Starting-Out-Indian-Writer and Maybe to Myself”: So many readers and critics and students and professors, they don’t engage [Native] writing as art, they engage it as an ethnographic lens they can use to focus attention on peoples and cultures and issues and crimes and travesties and all the ‘other’ that’ll fit in a discussion. This course will engage contemporary Native American Literature as it’s meant to be engaged: as art. The course will begin its exploration of Native American writers with James Welch and Leslie Marmon Silko, sliding then into the worlds of Louise Erdrich and Debra Magpie Earling and Linda Hogan, the shifting narrative points of view of Tommy Orange, the short stories Toni Jensen, the genre-bending novels of Stephen Graham Jones and Rebecca Roanhorse, the electrifying poetry of Tommy Pico, Natalie Diaz, Joy Harjo, and Layli Long Soldier, and the boundary and form-breaking non-fction of Elissa Washuta and David Treuer. Students will be responsible for class presentations and critical essays. Students are additionally required to attend all literature evenings and Poetry at Bennington events, held most Wednesdays at 7pm. All students applying for this course must submit a writing sample — scholarly or creative — between four and six pages long.
Corequisites: Students enrolled in this course are required to attend Wednesday night literature events.