Native American Storytelling

GENINT 731.380

Osher (50+). In this course, we read and discuss Native American stories by authors including N. Scott Momaday and Louise Erdrich.


About this course:

Native American storytelling reflects a double consciousness evident in the status of native American storytellers as insiders and outsiders: sometimes they adopt an authentic voice whose mentality is shaped by attachment to ancestral values and the notion of natural and cosmic harmony. But just as often, they position themselves as members of a Christian, educated, and white society—outside indigenous culture or beliefs. This tension results in some of the most interesting and important moments in Native American storytelling. In this course, we read examples of Native American oral storytelling that include drama and song from American Indian Stories, Legends, and Other Writings, then N. Scott Momaday’s Pulitzer-Prize winning novel, House Made of Dawn, about Momaday’s two worlds: the world of his grandfather—wedded to the rhythms of the seasons, ancient traditions, sustained by a deep reverence for spirituality and community—and the world of industrial America, demanding his loyalty and claiming his soul. We conclude with Books and Islands in Ojibwe Country, Louise Erdrich’s tour of the terrain that her ancestors inhabited for centuries—a blend of history, mythology, and memoir.

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