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Dr. Jesse Peters
PO Box 1510
Pembroke, NC 28372

Phone: 910.521.6635

Location: Dial 260 A
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English 344: Native American Novel
Tuesdays & Thursdays 2:00-3:15 pm

Instructor: Dr. Jesse Peters
Office: Old Main 204
Office Hours: TR 1:00-2:00, Via Email, ABA
Phone: 521-6635 ; 521-6841

Course Description:

This course is designed to expose students to novels produced by Native American authors. Though there were several novels published by native writers prior to 1969, we will begin with Scott Momaday's Pulitzer Prize winning novel, House Made of Dawn, which was published that year. The canon of Native American literature has exploded since 1969, and there are numerous Indian authors at work today from many different tribal communities. We will cover selected texts produced over the last 35 years, and you will be exposed to various voices and styles. My hope is that you will come to understand why I believe that the novels produced by Native American writers are some of the most important literary texts in the world today.

Our discussion will center around attempting to understand what the writers have to tell us and why. We will be paying particular attention to the ways in which Indian authors write within, outside of, and against the dominant canon of literature. Some of the questions we will be asking are: Who is an Indian? What is Native American literature? How does Indian literature relate to American literature in general? How is the Native American novel different from other novels, if at all? What role does the oral tradition play within these written texts?

The course demands a lot of reading, and I will give pop-quizzes from time to time (if necessary) to make sure that you are doing the reading. I do not allow students to make up missed quizzes. Please come to class prepared to discuss the material because I don’t expect to do all the talking. Remember, we are all here to explore ideas and figure out what we think. There will also be a prospectus (4-6 pages), a longer paper (8-10 pages), an oral presentation, a midterm and a final. The papers must incorporate outside sources and must be written on the literature that we cover in this course. The final will be cumulative.

Required Texts: (others may be added)

Momaday House Made of Dawn
Owens The Sharpest Sight
Erdrich Tracks
Henry The Light People
Welch Winter in the Blood
Silko Ceremony
King Medicine River

Course Requirements:

I do not think of myself as a lecturer, but rather as a facilitator of discussion. Please come to class each day ready to discuss the material; make sure you have read the text for that day.

Oral Presentation

During the course, you will give an oral presentation to the class. It will be on one of the primary texts that we cover, or on part of a text if we split it up. You will be responsible for doing a little research on the work and the author and then presenting that information to the class. I will expect you to begin by giving a 10-15 minute presentation at the beginning of the class. You may want to include things like biographical information, reactions to the work, information about the author's cultural experience, and themes you discovered in the novel. Then you should raise questions for discussion and facilitate the dialogue on that work. The meat of the presentation should be your explanation/ exploration of how the work helps our understanding of the Modern period in literature. You should approach this assignment as if you are to teach a class on the novel you are working on. I will grade you on both what you say and how you say it. Please sign up for the text you wish to report on as soon as possible; there will be no duplications.


Shortly after midterm, you will be asked to turn in a 4-6 page prospectus for your final research project. A good prospectus is a short summary of how your paper will be constructed; it outlines the thesis, sources, and evidence you plan to use in the final paper. This is simply a shorter version of your long paper; you will be able to use my comments to revise/expand as you work on this project. This should serve as an aid in preparing your oral presentation on the research paper as well as in writing the paper itself. The final research project is due the last week of class and should be 8-10 pages long, typed and double spaced. Four secondary sources (good ones used well) is the minimum, but I expect that you will need to use more. No cover page or binder is needed; simple put your name and class at the top of the first page, then type your title and begin the paper. Number all pages. Remember, a simple, neat presentation is often the best presentation.

Midterm and Final

The midterm and final will consist of identification (I give you a quote and you supply author, title, character, and significance), short answer, and essay. When providing the significance of a passage, be sure to explain what the quotation tells us about the theme or the message of the work.The final will be cumulative.

Blackboard Course Site

Sometimes the schedule may call for you to log into the Blackboard Course Site rather than meeting in the classroom. There we will chat in the virtual classroom. Sometimes I will ask you to complete other assignments inside the course site. We will always meet in the virtual classroom unless otherwise noted. Being late for these meetings is the same as being late for class. The same goes for absences. The requirements for hardware, software, and skills necessary to successfully navigate this online environment are available here: Online Course Skills.

Course Policies:

• Attendance is mandatory. I will take attendance most days. If you miss more than two weeks of class for any reason, I may assign you a grade of F for the course. Please let me know in advance if you will be absent (if at all possible). If you are late to class, you may be counted absent. You are also responsible for any information you miss if you are absent.

• I do not accept late assignments for any reason without my prior consent. I’m usually more than willing to help you out, but you must talk to me beforehand. I have voicemail and email. Late papers will receive a 0 grade.

• If you need to talk to me, please take advantage of my office hours or email me. I am also more than willing to meet by appointment.

• I may give pop quizzes if necessary to ensure that you are reading, so be sure and do the reading. Quizzes cannot be made up. I expect a lot of class participation during the course.

• Disruptive behavior will not be tolerated (talking while others are talking, ringing cell phones, coming in late, rude comments, etc.). If behavior like this persists, you will be asked to leave the class and receive a grade of F for the course.

* There will be no work for "extra credit." Keep up with the reading and do the work

All reading assignments should be completed on the first day that we begin discussion.

Note: Any student with a documented disability needing academic adjustments is requested to speak directly to Disability Support Services (Career Services Center, Room 210, 521-6270) and the instructor, as early in the semester (preferably within the first week) as possible. All discussions will remain confidential.

Grading System:

Presentation 100 pts. 10%
Prospectus 100 pts. 10%
Research Paper 200 pts. 20%
Midterm 300 pts. 30%
Final 300 pts. 30%


1000 pts. 100%

I use a thousand point grading system. All grades will be given as numbers with final grades computed as follows: A=933-1000; A-=900-932; B+=866-899; B=833-865; B-=800-832; C+=766-799; C=733-765; C-=700-732; D+=666-699; D=633-665; D-=600-632; F=<600.

Course Schedule: (Always Subject to Change)

August 17 introduction to the course

Owens Other Destinies (introduction)

24 Momaday House Made of Dawn (Report by Casey)
29 Momaday House Made of Dawn
31 Momaday House Made of Dawn
September 5  Momaday House Made of Dawn
7  Silko Ceremony (Report by Sabrina)
12  Silko Ceremony
14  Silko Ceremony
 19  Silko Ceremony
21 Silko Ceremony
26 Welch Winter in the Blood (Report by Bridget)
28 Welch Winter in the Blood
October 3  Welch Winter in the Blood
5 Midterm Examination
10  Welch Winter in the Blood
12-15  Fall Break
17 Erdrich Tracks (Report by Stephanie)
19 Erdrich Tracks
24 Erdrich Tracks
26 Erdrich Tracks
31 King Medicine River (Report by Liz)
November 2  King Medicine River
7 King Medicine River
9  Owens The Sharpest Sight (Report by Gena and Brooke)
14  Prospectus Due; Owens The Sharpest Sight Discussion on Blackboard
16  Class Discussion on Blackboard Owens The Sharpest Sight
21 Henry The Light People (Report by Juan)
22-26 Thanksgiving Break
28 Final Paper Due; Henry The Light People
30 Henry The Light People
December 5 Final Examination 2:00-4:30

UNCP Teaching Standards addressed by the course:

I--The teacher candidate commands essential knowledge and understandings of the academic discipline(s) from which school subject matter is derived and integrates that knowledge into personally meaningful frameworks.

This publication is available in alternative formats upon request. Please contact Mary Helen Walker, Disability Support Services, Career Services Center, Room 210, 521-6270.


Updated: Wednesday, January 7, 2009

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