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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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EngS 4660: Motion and Meaning: Negotiating Identity in Contemporary Native American Literature (3 Hrs)

TR 2:00-3:15 Dial 233

Instructor: Dr. Jesse Peters
Office: Old Main 260 A
Office Hours: TR 10:00-11:00; 3:30-5:00; MW 8:00-9:00 (online) And by Appointment/Email
Phone: 521-6635

Required Texts:

Ghost Singer, Anna Lee Walters
Out There Somewhere, Simon Ortiz
Bleed Into Me , Stephen Graham Jones
A Map to the Next World , Joy Harjo
The Light People, Gordon Henry
Pointing With Lips: A Week in the Life of a Rez Chick, Dana Lone Hill

Supplemental Texts:

Survivance, Gerald Vizenor
Off the Reservation, Paula Gunn Allen
The Turquois Ledge, Leslie Silko
Crazy Brave, Joy Harjo
I Hear the Train, Louis Owens 

Course Description:

The course will explore the complexities associated with construction and articulation of "identity" in Native American literature. Our goal is to study a sampling of texts within contemporary Native American literature as we work towards an understanding of how this literature has developed and evolved. We will be examining issues of survivance, voice, and identity while looking through the lens of "motion" (physical, emotional, political, literary, etc.). As Gerald Vizenor writes in Fugitive Poses, "Native transmotion is survivance, a reciprocal use of nature, not a monotheistic, territorial sovereignty. Native stories of survivance are the creases of transmotion and sovereignty” (15).

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 Indian? What is Native American literature? How does Indian literature relate to American literature in general? How does this literature connect to oral traditions?

Please be aware that literature often contains language and/or events that an individual might find offensive. Writers reflect the worlds they know, and like it or not, there are lots of people in the world who do use language some might find inappropriate. So literature is filled with all sorts of characters, many who use profanity, commit terrible crimes, lie, betray others, etc. As we analyze literature, we also advance theories about what the author may be trying to say through these characters and plots.

There may be graphic language in the works we read, and there will be violence and disturbing scenes. As an upper level course, this Native American literature class will also cover a diversity of perspectives on the social, cultural, economic, spiritual, and political issues of concern to many Indigenous peoples, expressed primarily in their own words. These are part of the experiences of many Native writers’ lives and we will consider them in the spirit of intellectual inquiry.

The course demands a lot of reading, and I expect material to be read before discussions begin for that material. Please plan to discuss the material extensively in class 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 be one short paper (4-6 pages), one long paper (10-15) pages, two oral reports, 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.

Outcomes: By the end of the course, students will have an understanding of the canon of Native American literature, including essays, fiction, and poetry. In addition, student academic writing will have improved in both form and content as we pay particular attention to the crafting of essays that use appropriate conventions, research, tone, style, and structure. Students will further develop critical readings of texts, and articulate a clear, well-structured argument using textual analysis and secondary sources.

Course Requirements:

Discussion Board

Sometimes the communication in the course may take place on the discussion board. On those weeks, I will set up a forum so that we can discuss the readings. I will usually post a brief comment or two and pose a few questions. Remember that this is merely a way of getting you started thinking about the material. You are free to start posts yourself on aspects of the works you find interesting. The point here is for us to have good conversations about the material as we address both structure and content.

If you start a thread, please give it a title that helps us understand what the topic will be. This will help each of you study for exams. A title like "Environment in Momaday's Essay" is a lot beter than "Momaday."

Failure to actively participate on Blackboard wil result in an absence.

I also suggest you read the discussion board guidelines available in the course documents section of Blackboard.


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 10-15 pages long, typed and double spaced. Five secondary sources 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.

Oral Presentations

1) Either alone or in a group (depending upon the number of students enrolled) each of you will give an oral presentation on one of the texts we will cover. These presentations will be 15-20 minutes in length and should serve as an introduction of the novel for the class. Think of it as a way to get us involved in a discussion of the text. these reports should include a summary of important responses to the text (both in reviews and in critical essays), a brief overview of what was going on in the writer's life during the writing and publication of the text, and an overview of some of the key themes in the work. Hopefully, we will be able to move from your report right into a discussion of the text.

2) Towards the end of the course, you will give an oral presentations to the class. The presentation will be on your research for your long paper. I expect you to give us an overview of your paper. It will be a presentation of your argument and should include comments on why you chose this topic, what your research uncovered, how your thesis developed, what evidence you use (briefly), and what conclusions you have come to. It is an opportunity to explain your thesis and evidence to an audience. This report should be 15-30 minutes. Powerpoint presentations or other visual aids are encouraged. These presentations on your papers will probably be open to other interested faculty and students.

Safe Assign / Blackboard

Papers must be submited through Safe Assign in Blackboard. Instructions for submitting these documents can be found in the Blackboard course site under the Assignments button. This will check for any plagiarism in your essays.

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. Parts of the exams may include components to be completed at home.

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.

The professor reserves the right to amend the syllabus as needed depending upon the needs of the class.

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

Note: Please refer to the ETL department’s website for departmental guidelines and plagiarism policy ( It is up to you, especially since you have passed English 1050 or an equivalent before being allowed to take this course, to know what plagiarism is and how to avoid it. If you are caught plagiarizing, you will fail the course and will be reported to the Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs.

Please let me know if you feel another student is plagiarizing your ideas. Additionally, all students should make themselves familiar with the Student Academic Honor Code.

Note: Federal laws require UNCP to accommodate students with documented learning, physical, chronic health, psychological, visual or hearing disabilities. In post-secondary school settings, academic accommodations are not automatic; to receive accommodations, students must make a formal request and must supply documentation from a qualified professional to support that request. Students who believe they qualify must contact the Accessibility Resource Center (ARC) in DF Lowry Building, Room 107 or call 910-521-6695 to begin the accommodation process. All discussions remain confidential. Accommodations cannot be provided retroactively. More information for students about the services provided by ARC and the accommodation process may be found at the following link:

Grading System:

Group Presentation 100 pts. 10%
Prospectus 100 pts. 10%
Research Paper 200 pts. 20%
Paper Presentation 100 pts. 10%
Midterm 200 pts. 20%
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.

Online Office Hours

Though I am on email most of the time, I will be checking email for sure every Monday and Wednesday between 8:00-9:00 am.

Course Schedule (Always Subject to Change)

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


21 Introduction to course; Discussion of themes

26 "Native Transmotion" Gerald Vizenor

28 Ghost Singer, Anna Lee Walters


2 Ghost Singer, Anna Lee Walters

4 Ghost Singer, Anna Lee Walters

9 Ghost Singer, Anna Lee Walters

11 Out There Somewhere, Simon Ortiz

16 Discussion on Blackboard Out There Somewhere, Simon Ortiz

18 Out There Somewhere, Simon Ortiz

23 Out There Somewhere, Simon Ortiz

25 The Light People, Gordon Henry (Report by Opal)

30 The Light People, Gordon Henry


2 The Light People, Gordon Henry

7 Midterm Exam

9 The Light People, Gordon Henry

14 Bleed Into Me , Stephen Graham Jones (Report by Donnie)

16-18 Fall Break -- No Class

21 Bleed Into Me , Stephen Graham Jones

23 Bleed Into Me , Stephen Graham Jones

28 Bleed Into Me , Stephen Graham Jones

30 Bleed Into Me , Stephen Graham Jones


4 Pointing With Lips: A Week in the Life of a Rez Chick, Dana Lone Hill (Report by Mengiie)

6 Discussion on Blackboard Pointing With Lips: A Week in the Life of a Rez Chick, Dana Lone Hill

11 Pointing With Lips: A Week in the Life of a Rez Chick, Dana Lone Hill

13 A Map to the Next World , Joy Harjo (Report by Rebekah)

18 A Map to the Next World , Joy Harjo

20 A Map to the Next World , Joy Harjo

25 Prospectus Due; A Map to the Next World , Joy Harjo

26-28 Thanksgiving Break -- No Class


2 Research Reports (Opal & Donnie)

4 Research Reports (Rebekah & Mengjie)

8 Final Paper Due

9 Final Examination 1:30-4:00


Statement on Literature Program Assessment:

Committed to improving the quality of educational services offered to students, the literature program seeks to assess student achievement of course learning outcomes. Student work from this class may be randomly selected and used anonymously for program assessment. Copies of your coursework including any submitted papers and/or portfolios may be kept on file for assessment and accreditation purposes. The assessment process will not affect your grade in this class or require you to complete additional work.

UNCP Religious Holiday Policy Statement

The University of North Carolina at Pembroke has a legal and moral obligation to accommodate all students who must be absent from classes or miss scheduled exams in order to observe religious holidays; we must be careful not to inhibit or penalize these students for exercising their rights to religious observance. To accommodate students’ religious holidays, each student will be allowed two excused absences each semester with the following conditions:

1. Students, who submit written notification to their instructors within two weeks of the beginning of the semester, shall be excused from class or other scheduled academic activity to observe a religious holy day of their faith. Excused absences are limited to two class sessions (days) per semester.

2. Students shall be permitted a reasonable amount of time to make up tests or other work missed due to an excused absence for a religious observance.

3. Students should not be penalized due to absence from class or other scheduled academic activity because of religious observances.

A student who is to be excused from class for a religious observance is not required to provide a second-party certification of the reason for the absence. Furthermore, a student who believes that he or she has been unreasonably denied an education benefit due to religious beliefs or practices may seek redress through the student grievance procedure.

This publication is available in alternative formats upon request. Please contact the Accessibility Resource Center, DF Lowry Building, Room 107, 521-6695.

Updated: Thursday, November 20, 2014

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