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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 505: Native American Literature

Friday 6:00-10:00 pm; Saturday 9:00 am-1:00 pm

Instructor: Dr. Jesse Peters
Office: Old Main 204
Office Hours: Friday 5:00-6:00, Via Email, ABA
Phone: 521-6635 ; 521-6841

Course Description:

This course is designed to expose students to contemporary Native American literature and to provide an environment for discussion of that literature. We will be looking at writers who address many issues related to the experience of Native people in the United States. Along the way, we will address such key questions as what is Native American literature? How do these writers work within and/or against the dominant center in the U.S.? How does Native American literature relate to other literature produced in the U.S. and the rest of the world? What do readers, both native and non-native, have to learn from these texts? What part does the oral tradition play in these texts? What kinds of worldviews do we see reflected in the writings?

What we now perceive of as the identity of the United States of America is certainly complex and difficult to articulate. Some would say it calls to mind words like freedom, democracy, fairness, and equality. Others might say that it also demands adjectives like arrogant, manipulative, hypocritical, violent, and selfish. Perhaps Native Americans, more than any other group of Americans, are in a position to add insight into the discussion. The history of interaction between Indian people and Euroamericans serve as the founding fabric of this contemporary nation, and the issues that Native American people have faced (and continue to face) because of colonization provide a lens through which we can examine both Native American reality/identity and American reality/identity. What we may indeed find is that those two experiences are inextricably intertwined.

Our challlenge is to try to see how many contemporary Indian authors are articulating and discussing issues that are central to the lives of Native American people. But beyond that, I hope you will see why I believe that the literature being produced by Native American authors is the most important literature in the world today.

Required Texts: (others may be added)

Lucero Night Sky, Morning Star
Momaday House Made of Dawn
Owens Other Destinies
Vizenor Chancers
Erdrich Tracks
Henry The Light People
Welch Winter in the Blood
Silko Ceremony

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 texts for that day.

Oral Presentations

During the course, you will give two oral presentations to the class. The first 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. You should think of this presentation as a chance for you to practice teaching Native American literature. 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. Please sign up for the text you wish to report on as soon as possible; there will be no duplications, but most of you will work in teams. The way to succeed in this is to make sure to do enough research and explore the critical responses to the text you choose.

The second presentation will be on your research for your long research paper. Towards the end of the session, I expect you to give us an overview of your paper. It will be an oral 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. This report should be 15-30 minutes; think of it as presenting your ideas at a professional conference. Powerpoint presentations or other visual aids are encouraged. These presentations on your papers will probably be open to other interested faculty and students.


The week before the last week of class, you will be asked to turn in a five 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 should serve as an aid in preparing your oral presentation on the research paper as well as in writing the paper itself. Both the prospectus and the long paper should be focused on a topic/thesis that you can articulate primarily through in-depth analysis of a novel that we have covered this session. You need to start thinking about this project early because the summer term is so short. The final research project is due the last week of class and should be 10-15 pages long, typed and double spaced. Eight secondary sources is the minimum, but I expect that you will need to use more. MLA format should be followed at all times. 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 Final

There will be an oral final exam in this course. During the last class meeting, you will meet with me individually for 15-20 minutes. During that time, I will ask you questions about the texts, and we will engage in discussion of the issues covered in the course. This will be your chance to demonstrate your overall handle on the material.

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 days 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, 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: Please refer to the ETL department’s website for departmental and university guidelines and plagiarism policy ( At the very least, any plagiarism will result in a grade of F for the course.

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 1 100 pts. 10%
Presentation 2 100 pts. 10%
Prospectus 200 pts. 20%
Oral Final Exam

200 pts. 20%

Research Paper


400 pts. 40%


Total 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)

May 26

Introduction to the course; Discussion of history, culture, worldview, and attitudes; Begin discussion of Owens' Other Destinies

May 27

Momaday House Made of Dawn Discussion on Blackboard

June 2

Momaday House Made of Dawn; Oral Reports by Daniel and Don; Silko Ceremony

June 3

Silko Ceremony; Welch Winter in the Blood Discussion on Blackboard

June 9

Silko Ceremony; Welch Winter in the Blood Oral Reports by Kimberly and Amy

June 10

Erdrich Tracks; Lucero Night Sky, Morning Star Discussion on Blackboard

June 13

Erdrich Tracks; Oral Report by Alissa

June 15

Night Sky, Morning Star Oral Report by Mary

June 20

Prospectus Due; Henry The Light People Oral Report by Shaun; Vizenor Chancers Oral Report by Stacy and Paul

June 22

Oral Reports on Papers

June 28

Final Exam; Final Paper Due (Please include a self-addressed mailer if you want you paper returned to you).


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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