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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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Eng/AIS 3440: Native American Novel
Tuesdays & Thursdays 9:30-10:45 Am

Instructor: Dr. Jesse Peters
Office: Old Main 204
Office Hours: TR 8:00-9:00, 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?

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. But usually they are contrasted against other characters. As we analyze literature, we also advance theories about what the author may be trying to say through these characters and plots.

There will be graphic language in the works we read, and there will be violence and disturbing scenes. As an upper level course, this Native American Novel 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. Some of the literature we read may contain profanity, explicit or graphic content (which may be sexual and/or violent), or political or religious opinions that differ from yours. 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 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
Erdrich Tracks
Henry The Light People
Welch Winter in the Blood
Red Eagle Red Earth

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. You will be working with one or two other students to produce this presentation, and I suggest dividing up the material. But you also want the presentation to have continuity and connection; you want the audience to see that you have worked on the presentation together and that you also work together as you present it to us. It will be on one of the primary texts that we cover. 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 15-20 minute presentation at the beginning of the class. You may want to include things like biographical information, reactions to the work, theories about 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 Native American 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.


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. Five 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.

Paper Presentation

Towards the end of the semester, you will give us a 10-15 minute presentation on your research paper. I expect you all to outline your argument and evidence in a clear manner much as you would at a profezsional conference. There will be time for your peers to ask questions and offer suggestions on your work. / Digital DropBox

Papers must be submited to Instructions for submitting these documents can be found in the Blackboard course site under the Assignments button. This site checks for any plagiarism in your essays. You will also submit a version of the essay in Word or RTF to the digital dropbox within the course site. Both submissions must be made by the due datesprovided.

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 using the discussion board. Sometimes I may ask you to complete other assignments inside the course site. When we are discussing material via BlackBoard, I expect you each to participate as fully as you would in class; so you should spend at least an hour posting and responding to other posts. Failure to participate will be counted as an absence. 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%
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.

Course Schedule: (Always Subject to Change)

January 12 introduction to the course

Owens Other Destinies (introduction)

19 Momaday House Made of Dawn (Report by Katara, Kim, & Blair)
21 Momaday House Made of Dawn
26 Momaday House Made of Dawn
28 Momaday House Made of Dawn
February 2 Welch Winter in the Blood (Report by Bernise & Ryan)
4 Welch Winter in the Blood
9 Welch Winter in the Blood
11 Welch Winter in the Blood
16 Welch Winter in the Blood
18 Erdrich Tracks (Report by Brittany & Taryn)
23 Erdrich Tracks
25 Erdrich Tracks
March 2 Midterm Examination
4 Erdrich Tracks; Class on BlackBoard
8-13 Fall Break
16 Red Eagle Red Earth (Report by Gwendolyn & Marsha)
17 Red Eagle Red Earth
18 Red Eagle Red Earth
23 Visit to Class by Phillip Red Eagle
25 Red Eagle Red Earth
30 Henry The Light People (Report by Saphronia & Ashley)
April 1 Henry The Light People
6 Henry The Light People
8 Prospectus Due; Henry The Light People
13 Henry The Light People
15 Research Paper Reports: Kim, Bernice, Taryn
20 Research Paper Reports: Ashley, Sophronia, Katara
22 Research Paper Reports: Brittany,
27 Research Paper Reports: Ryan, Marsha, Gwendolyn
30 Final Paper Due by 12:00 noon
May 4 Final Examination 8:00-10:30

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: Thursday, April 22, 2010

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