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ENG/PACS 371:  Literature of the Pacific

Fall 2004


University of Hawai‘i at Mnoa



Professor Albert Wendt, Citizens Chair.  956-8958; wendt@hawaii.edu


Assistant Professor Reina Whaitiri.  956-3021; whaitiri@hawaii.edu 


Graduate Assistant Ken Goto.  956-8548; kengoto@hawaii.edu   


Office Hours:

Professor Wendt:    T 1:00-2:30pm, TH 2:00-3:00pm     (KUY 711)

Professor Whaitiri:   MWF 10:00-12:00pm                      (KUY 222)

Ken Goto:                W 2:00-3:15pm, TH 11:45-2:00pm  (KUY 425)


Course Description:

This course is a study of the literature of the Pacific especially the literature in English by indigenous writers, and how that is related to other new literatures in English. The course will first (a) look at oral literature/traditions, then (b) move to a discussion of the written literature by the indigenous writers of Hawai’i, Aotearoa/New Zealand, Tonga, Samoa, Papua New Guinea, the Cook Islands, Solomon Islands, Fiji, Kiribati and so forth. Because the instructors in this course are also anthologists, we will also study how these are compiled. The course will look at topics such as literacy, publishing and printing, colonialism and post-colonialism, nationalism, sovereignty and cultural renaissance, and how these have changed and influenced the oral and written literatures. It will provide detailed information about the cultures, countries and region out of which the literature has emerged.


Required Texts:

Students are expected to have read the following texts before they are discussed in class. Students should also read other texts on the Pacific. (See recommended readings.)


Wendt, Albert. Ed. Nuanua.  Honolulu, Hawaii:  University of Hawai′i Press,



Wendt, Albert, Reina Whaitiri and Robert Sullivan.  Ed.  Whetu Moana. 

Auckland, New Zealand:  Auckland University Press, 2003.



Wendt, Albert.  The Mango’s Kiss.  Auckland, New Zealand:  Random House

New Zealand, 2003.


Grace, Patricia.  Baby No-Eyes.  Honolulu, Hawai′i:  University of Hawaii

Press, 1998.



Wendt, Albert.  The Songmaker’s Chair.  Wellington, New Zealand:  Huia

Publishers, 2004. 

Knuebuhl, Victoria Nalani.  Hawaii Nei: Island Plays.  Honolulu, Hawaii:  University of Hawaii Press, 2002.


Feature Films

Hereniko, Vilsoni.  Dir. The Land Has Eyes.


Course Reader 

EMA Campus Copy at the Campus Center – phone 9411098.  Cost $5.70.


Some of the writers and poets discussed in the course will be invited to talk to the class. 


Note: Relevant reading lists and handouts will be provided by the instructors during the semester.


Recommended Reading:

This is a list of recommended reading to further and deepen your knowledge and understanding of the Pacific, its people, cultures, politics and literature.


Crocombe, Ron. The South Pacific. Suva: University of the South Pacific, 2001.


Hereniko, Vilsoni and Rob Wilson. Eds. Inside Out. Lanham, Maryland: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc., 1999.


Sharrad, Paul. Albert Wendt and Pacific Literature – Circling the void.  Auckland, New Zealand: Auckland University Press, 2003.


Trask, Haunani-Kay. From a Native Daughter. Honolulu: University of Hawai’i Press, 1999.


Vaai, Sina. Literary Representations in Western Polynesia: Colonialism and Indigeneity. Samoa: The National University of Samoa, 1999.



Structure of the classes:

There will be lectures followed by class discussions, readings, debates, film/documentary clips, etc, focused on topics provided by the instructors and raised by the students.  Individual and group student presentations and the dates on which they will occur will be decided during the first week of class. The topics will be based on student interests. 



Class participation and attendance:  20%     
Random tests/quizzes/exercises in class: 20%         
Two critical essays:  40%
Examination:  20%




Class participation:

Students are expected to attend every class, keep up with the readings and contribute to class discussions.  Students are expected to arrive on time at the start of each class and are expected to hand in their assignments on time.



As can be seen above a significant part of your overall grade depends on your attendance and participation in class. You will receive substantial credit for active listening, contributing to class discussions, participating in small group work and in-class writing.  You are responsible for all assignments set in your absence.

Excused absences include:

illness which can be verified by a note from your doctor

a family emergency confirmed by a note from a parent, guardian, or health care practitioner

Unexcused absences include:

routine doctor’s or dentist’s appointments

meetings for other classes

conflicting work schedule

traffic or parking problems


 If you have missed four or more classes you must check in with Prof. Wendt as soon as possible and let him know what is happening. Failure to do so may jeopardize your ability to pass the course.



 There will be a role call at each and every class until we get to know your names and then the role will be sent around for you to sign. If you arrive after the role has been taken you will be marked late. Being late twice counts as an absence.


Random response quizzes and tests:

These will be about the set texts/readings assigned on the day of the quiz.



Students will be expected to write two essays from the following list of topics. Essays should be typed, double-spaced and follow MLA or Chicago styling.


You have to write TWO essays during the semester.  ONE on the anthologies and ONE on the other texts.  1500 words for each essay.


(A)    Anthologies:  Nuanua and Whetu Moana


(1)     Select one of the anthologies and discuss the contribution it makes to Pacific Literature.

(2)     Choose either the prose or poetry in Nuanua and discuss what you find interesting in it.

(3)     Select TWO poets from Whetu Moana, from TWO different countries and discuss their work.

(4)     ‘The poetry in Whetu Moana explores what Polynesia is and becoming.’  Discuss this claim using the poetry of at least three poets in the anthology.


(B)    Other Texts

(1)   The Mango’s Kiss

(a)    Discuss Peleiupu’s role in the novel and what makes her so different from the other female characters.

(b)    ‘The three Papalagi characters – Barker, Freemeade, and Stenson – change the Tuifolau Family and are changed by it.’  Explore this statement.


      (2) Baby No Eyes

     (a) Discuss how Patricia Grace tells the story of Baby No Eyes.

(b) ‘This novel shows how Maori society has been changed and survived under Pakeha colonization.’  Discuss.


(1)     The Songmaker’s Chair

(a)    The Songmaker’s Chair concerns three generations of a migrant Samoan family in Aotearoa/New Zealand.’  Discuss.

(b)    The Peseola Family has developed a way of living, the Peseola Way, to survive in Aotearoa.  What do you understand to be the Peseola Way?


(2)     Hawaii Nei:  Plays

(a)    ‘In all her plays, Victoria Kneubuhl examines the role of women in Hawaiian society and history.’  Discuss, using one of the plays.

(b)    Choose ONE of the plays and write about those aspects of the play you find interesting.


(3)     The Land Has Eyes

(a)     This is the first feature film about Rotumans by a Rotuman filmmaker.  Keeping that in mind, discuss how the characters and the society are portrayed.

(b)     Write a review of the film for viewers who are not Rotuman.



NOTE:       The first essay on the anthologies is due10/5.

The second essay is due 11/30.


Intellectual Honesty and Correct Documentation

Correctly presented and referenced work is one of the most important skills you need in order to be a successful scholar. If you submit work written by someone other than yourself without citing them you are plagiarizing and this is not acceptable. The consequence of repeated plagiarism is a fail for this course. It is of course acceptable to quote from other’s work but it must be acknowledged and correctly referenced. All references and quotations should follow the MLA Handbook or Chicago Manual of Style. However, you should not fall into the trap of using too many quotations. They should be chosen carefully and fittingly and be used only to demonstrate and support the points you are making. Your essay must be your own ideas, your own writing, supported by evidence either from the text or from other published sources.

Cheating will not be tolerated under any circumstances. If two papers look as though they have been copied from each other both parties will receive a fail grade.


Handing in Written Assignments

All formal pieces of writing must be handed during class on the day they are due. Although you will not be marked down for poor spelling, grammar and punctuation it will be noted and you will be expected to improve on each piece of writing handed in. Remember, if you wish your writing to be clear and easily understood you should pay particular attention to the mechanics of good writing.

Following are guidelines for submitting any piece of writing:

Your work should be typed or printed (word processed)

Always give your writing a title

Use double spacing

Leave a 3-inch margin on the left-hand side of the page

The last page of your essay should be the bibliography (where applicable)

The pen-ultimate page should be for references (where applicable)

Following MLA format, the top left corner of your first page should read:

            John Doe (Your full name)

            ENG/PACS 371 (Course number)

            Prof. Wendt (Professor’s name)

24 August 2004  (Date)


Essays must be handed in to Professor Wendt directly, or to his mailbox at the English Office (KUY 402).


You should always keep copies of final drafts until your work has been returned to you.



The format and content of the examination will be discussed with students but there will be a range of questions covering all the texts studied in class.  Students will be expected to answer two of those essay questions.  (Students must not repeat work on texts completed for their assignments.)  More information about the examination will be given during the semester.



You will receive a more detailed syllabus for the following readings.


The texts will be taught in the following order, two sessions per week:


Anthologies:  Nuanua, Whetu Moana

These two anthologies cover the literature in English of the whole of the Pacific and show how Hawai′i fits into the wider Polynesian and Pacific family.


WEEK 1 (8/24, 8/26):                                       Nuanua

WEEK 2 (8/31-QUIZ #1, 9/2):                          Nuanua

WEEK 3 (9/7, 9/9):                                            Nuanua


WEEK 4 (9/14, 9/16):                                       Whetu Moana

WEEK 5 (9/21-QUIZ #2, 9/23):                        Whetu Moana

WEEK 6 (9/28, 9/30):                                       Whetu Moana



Baby No Eyes:  This novel explores the life of a modern Maori community and how the people learn to survive and thrive in what can often be an alien environment.  Many of the experiences explored in this novel reflect what has happened and is happening to Hawaiians and other Pacific peoples


The Mango’s Kiss:  Wendt’s novel covers the life of a Samoan family and community from the 1860’s to the 1920’s.  The novel is set mainly in Samoa but moves to New Zealand and some of the capitals of the Papalagi world.  Again, this novel shows the historical, political, cultural and other changes that have occurred in the Pacific


WEEK 7 (10/5-PAPER #1 DUE, 10/7):              Baby No Eyes

WEEK 8 (10/12-QUIZ #3, 10/14):                        Baby No Eyes


WEEK 9 (10/19, 10/21):                                    The Mango’s Kiss

WEEK 10 (10/26-QUIZ #4, 10/28):                 The Mango’s Kiss




The Songmaker’s Chair:  How Samoan communities in Samoa, New Zealand and wider Pacific cope with modern life and how they survive in the places they travel to and make their new homes in.


Hawai′i Nei: These are about Hawaiians, focusing on women in different historical contexts.


WEEK 11 (11/2-Holiday, 11/4):                          The Songmaker’s Chair

WEEK 12 (11/9-QUIZ #5, 11/11-Holiday):        The Songmaker’s Chair


WEEK 13 (11/16, 11/18):                                          Hawaii Nei

WEEK 14 (11/23-QUIZ #6, 11/25-Holiday):            Hawaii Nei



The Land Has Eyes:  this is the first feature film by a Rotuman filmmaker about a Rotuman family.  Few feature films have been made about the Pacific by indigenous filmmakers.  This film presents a unique insiders view of Rotuma and, like the other novels and plays we have studied so far, challenges the representations of Pacific peoples in Western literature.


WEEK 15 (11/30, 12/2): The Land Has Eyes (Film)

WEEK 16 (12/7, 12/9):   The Land Has Eyes (Film)/ Review for exam


WEEK 17 EXAM 16th December.





Upload: 9/13/2004

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