Pacific Studies Initiative Syllabi & Bibliographies



Syllabi & Bibliographies

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Literature of the Pacific

Eng 480(01)/ Pacs 480
TTH 9–10:15
Fall 1997, UH Manoa

Instructor: Dr Caroline Sinavaiana-Gabbard
Department of English
University of Hawai'i at Manoa
1733 Donnagho Road
Honolulu, HI 96822
Phone: (808) 956-3046, Fax (808) 956-3083

Course Description

This course introduces students to some significant works of contemporary literature written primarily by indigenous Pacific Islanders. Works include those of writers from Aotearoa/New Zealand, Hawai'i, Solomon Islands, Vanuatu, Papua New Guinea, Tonga and Samoa. The course explores questions of theme, aesthetics and technique in these literatures as they are imbued and/or shaped by their respective social/historical settings. Key issues include the cultural politics of Identity, as the writing serves both to challenge earlier representations of the Pacific by outsiders, and to highlight emerging discourses of gender and class within the region today. The instructor is a native daughter of Samoa with strong ties to Turtle Island.

Required texts:

Once Were Warriors, Alan Duff
Potiki, Patricia Grace
Tales of the Tikongs, Epeli Hau'ofa
Tusitala and the House of the Spirits, Paul Simei-Barton
Sons for the Return Home, Albert Wendt
Nuanua, Ed. Albert Wendt

Additional texts will be provided by the instructor and Include, (1) photocopied excerpts from the work of other important writers like Haunani-Kay Trask, Grace Molisa, Sia Figiel, Vilsoni Hereniko, and Dan Taulapapa McMuIlin, and (2) several films, including Alan Duff's Once Were Warriors and Albert Wendt's Flying Fox in a Freedom Tree.

Writing Assignments & Examinations:

In addition to a midterm exam, assignments will include a short essay (4-6 pages) which critically reviews a single work of contemporary fiction, poetry or drama from the Pacific, to which you would personally award a major literary prize; and a 10-15 page paper on the topic of your choice drawn from the assigned readings. This is not a research paper, but a critical essay on any work or works by an indigenous writer which explore and illuminate the confluence of "culture," history, gender and/or class (at least two of these tributaries) in the contemporary Pacific.

There will also be a number of daily assignments and quizzes.


Final grades will be assessed along the following lines:

Class participation: 10%
Exam, quizzes, & daily assignments 30%
Short essay 20%
Final paper 40%

Student Responsibilities:

1. Attend every class meeting prepared with completed assignments and a posture of active engagement in conversation and inquiry.
2. Be prepared to write brief responses at the beginning of class to questions about the assigned readings.
3. Hand in all assignments in a timely fashion.
4. Participate in all class activities in a manner informed by respect for others, including those with views that may be different than your own.

Course Syllabus

Note: In addition to the following required readings, we will also consider selected critical essays, films, and presentations by guest speakers (to be announced).

August 26 Introduction, review of requirements, assignments, grading, exams, papers
  28 Overviews, Themes & Issues: Video: The Art of Community, C Sinavaiana-Gabbard and E Figueroa
September 2 Konai Thaman, "Of Daffocils and Heilala...;"
Sinavaiana-Gabbard, "The Art of Sticking Together," Who We Are: A Reader for Young People
  4 Patricia Grace, Potiki
  9 Grace
  11 Grace*
  16 Albert Wendt, Sons for the Return Home
  18 Wendt
  23 Wendt
  25 Wendt
  30 Alan Duff, Once Were Warriors
October 2 Duff
  7 Duff
  9 Duff*
  14 Mid-Term Exam
  16 Epeli Hau'ofa, Tales of the Tikongs
  21 Hau'ofa
  23 Hau'ofa
  28 Hau'ofa
  30 Paul Simei-Barton, Tusitala and the House of the Spirits
November 4 Simei-Barton
  6 Simei-Barton
  13 Simei-Barton
  18 Nora Vagi Brash, "Mass Media, Mass Mania," Nuanua (Ed. Wendt), p 178;
Grace Molisa, Black Stone, selected poems
  20 Haunani-Kay Trask, Light in a Crevice Never Seen, selected poems; C Sinavaiana-Gabbard, "Ianeta's Dance," "War News," Nuanua, pp 287-288.
  25 Vilsoni Hereniko, "The Unfinished Fence," Nuanua, pp 70-72.
December 2 Konai Helu Thaman, "Langakali," Nuanua, pp 383-386
  4 Jully Makini, "Civilized Girl," Nuanua, pp 341;
Sia Figiel, The Girl in the Moon Circle, pp 4-8, 15-18, 56-59
  9 Dan Taulapapa McMullin, "Cities of the Plain like Islands in the Sea," Wasafiri (Ed. Briar Wood and Vilsoni Hereniko), pp 57-59;
Teresia Teaiwa, "Searching for Nei Nim'anoa," Wasafiri, p 19
  11 Final Papers Due

*Films on Reserve in Sinclair Library: to be viewed in conjunction with corresponding readings: Utu, Flying Fox in a Freedom Tree, OnceWere Warriors, Tusitala and the House of the Spirits.

[Subject: Literature; Pacific/Comparative]

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