ENG 4900 Indigenous Archives & Food Sovereignty Course (Winter 2021)

Required Texts:

Braiding Sweetgrass | Robin Wall Kimmerer

Whereas | Layli Long Soldier

From Sand Creek | Simon Oritz

The Seed Keeper | Diane Wilson

ENG 4900 Winter 2021

Garden as archive. Seeds as texts.

In this course students will not only examine the literary texts of Indigenous North America but they will also consider how to apply the definition of “text” to a variety of materials that carry cultural, political, and historical significance for Indigenous peoples of North America. In this way students will learn how to locate and follow forms of Indigenous sovereignty that manifest in a variety of materials. Students will be expected to learn a variety of reading practices that will include investigating the ways that Early American colonial texts erase Native peoples, analyzing literary and scholarly works by Indigenous writers that present American history and culture from a Native perspective, and examining this gap in cultural and historical understanding in order to think through problems with archival methods and the recovery of Indigenous voices. Our goal will be to examine Indigenous history by reconsidering scholarly questions surrounding historiography, the archive, and material culture. Questions we’ll be asking: What are the forms of historical and contemporary Native erasure? What are the colonialist structures governing archive-building? How do we disrupt the silencing of the Indigenous voice? What are alternative forms of historical recovery? What does Indigenous archive-building and rematriation look like? How do we construct a discourse of material culture that allows us to evaluate items on which Indigenous tribes ascribe cultural value, but that sit outside of Western definitions of texts? Students will work with archives (physical & digital) to pursue these questions in public-facing, community-grounded research and explore how we create new systems and languages for archival forms of investigation with, through, and by student-scholars.

Course led by Dr. Andrea Knutson and Dr. Megan Peiser

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