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CCOG for NAS 240 Winter 2024

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Course Number:
NAS 240
Course Title:
Introduction to Native American Literatures
Credit Hours:
Lecture Hours:
Lecture/Lab Hours:
Lab Hours:

Course Description

Studies literary arts and cultural expressions by Native American authors. Considers Native American literatures in their national, historical, cultural, geographical, political, and legal contexts. Prioritizes Indigenous experience, worldview, and intellectual traditions in the study of Native literatures. ENG 240 and NAS 240 are equivalent and only one can be taken for credit. Prerequisites: (WR 115 and RD 115) or IRW 115 or equivalent placement. Audit available.

Intended Outcomes for the course

Upon completion of the course students should be able to:

  1. Recognize the diversity and vitality of Native American experiences and expressions.
  2. Identify how a variety of Native literatures are influenced by the historical tensions between the United States and the Native peoples of this continent.
  3. Trace the incorporation of traditional Native stories or characters into the narrative production of contemporary writers.
  4. Recognize the influence of Indigenous languages, cultures, worldviews, legal histories, and intellectual traditions upon the literary productions of Native writers.
  5. Explain how various perceptions of Indigenous identity and nationhood shape Native literatures and scholarship.

Integrative Learning

Students completing an associate degree at Portland Community College will be able to reflect on one’s work or competencies to make connections between course content and lived experience.

General education philosophy statement

This course in Native American Literature aligns with the PCC General Education philosophy because Indigenous literatures matter. Students in this course engage the imagination, critical inquiry and self‐reflection, and in the process of doing so, cultivate a more complex understanding of themselves in relation to the worlds and reading experiences created by Native American writers. In this Native American literature classes, students explore significant texts from diverse cultures and periods in history. Students look closely at texts from a range of genres, articulating the way elements of writing, content, form, and style are interrelated, and considering how values and interpretations have changed over time and across generations in Native American cultures and communities. Students engage texts through critical analysis and creative response, learning to use evidence to support their interpretations and to navigate critical conversations. Students explore Native literature both as an art form designed to provoke thought and challenge social norms. Native American Literature fosters engagement with Indigenous culture, society, history, and futurity. Students in this course develop an awareness of themselves as readers and writers in relation to a vital yet terribly under-represented community in North America.

Aspirational Goals

To provide a positive and productive educational experience for PCC students by building bridges between peoples, by respecting the sovereignty and worldviews of Indigenous nations, and by honoring and supporting Native communities. To educate and empower students to communicate in ways that demonstrate respect for Indigenous contexts, histories, and futures.

Course Activities and Design

For both face-to-face and online classes, course activities will include reading and preparation for class, group discussion (either in person or online), lectures and presentations, small group discussions, inquiry projects, informal and formal writings, viewing and listening to video and audio recordings, and perhaps some guest speakers, all in the service of analyzing works of writing by Native American and Indigenous authors. 

Outcome Assessment Strategies

Instructors vary on methods of assessment, but students will generally be assessed in response to their labor as members of the class community. In this context, student “labor” refers to all aspects of class participation, including time spent preparing for class (e.g., reading, annotating, researching); work products such as student writing (e.g, reading journals, informal responses, formal essays, summary-response papers); and active and respectful participation in classroom and/or online discussions.

Course Content (Themes, Concepts, Issues and Skills)

Some of the central concepts of the course include:

  • The importance of recognition.  All the primary texts read and discussed in this class are produced by Native American writers.  To be considered a Native American writer, an individual must be recognized by their Native communities as a tribal or community member.  English 240 does not study works produced by non-Native writers about Native themes.
  • “Native American literatures” is unique among the families of literature produced in the United States in that it is commonly described in the plural: “literatures.”  This plurality recognizes the inherent diversity of Native experience, nationhood, language, and culture.  Although no single class could possibly introduce students to the entirety of Native literary expressions across all times and places, English 240 recognizes and respects the long-standing diversity of Native verbal arts by considering “literatures” in the plural and by exploring a range of texts from different times, places, media, and languages.
  • Native American literatures have existed for thousands of years, forming the foundations of narrative, performance, and expressive culture in what is now the United States.  However, contemporary ideas about “Native American literatures” in English are a relatively recent development.  Native authors have been writing and publishing in English since the 18thcentury, including a wave of creativity in the late-20th century often referred to as the “American Indian Renaissance.”  Course readings or viewings may include a range of works produced in Native languages, but the primary emphasis of study is contemporary work written or performed in English.