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South Pacific Literature

Honors Seminar 2011

Instructor: Dr Sandra Tawake
English Department
East Carolina University
Greenville, NC 27858

Up until 1960 most of the written literature about the Pacific and about Pacific islanders was written by outsiders, Melville, Maugham, Michener. These writers tended to focus on their own exploits and activities among Pacific Islanders rather than on the Islanders themselves. Since the 1960s, Pacific Island writers have indigenized and enriched the language of their colonizers and used it to explore colonialism and its effects on the indigenous peoples and to declare their independence from colonial mythologies. The literature now being written in English in the Pacific tells a story of enormous suffering, endurance, the absorption of foreign influences, adaptation, and survival. This seminar will focus on recent works written by Pacific Islanders and use a reader-response based approach to make those works meaningful to class participants. A secondary aim in this course is to promote a process of reading that is intrinsically motivated and characterized by some of the following behaviors:

  • participating in the experiences depicted by the texts;
  • identifying with characters depicted in the text, adducing similar situations from person experience, thus adopting an "insider" perspective;
  • distinguishing between literal metaphoric comparisons used in the texts and developing awareness of characteristic responses to each type;
  • recognizing culturally conditioned attitudes and behaviors as they are manifested in each of the texts;
  • exploring such issues as cultural and gender chauvinism, obscenity, and justice that are posed by the texts and moving toward resolution of conflicts raised by such issues.

Class Meets: TTH, 11:00–12:15

Reading List:

Literature as Exploration - Louise Rosenblatt
Sons for the Return Home - Albert Wendt
Leaves of the Banyan Tree - Albert Wendt
The Bone People - Keri Hulme
Once Were Warriors - Alan Duff
Tales of the Tikongs - Epeli Hau'ofa
The Contemporary Pacific, vol 6, no 2, 1994 - review essay by Christina Thompson
The Contemporary Pacific, vol 7, no 2, 1995 - interview with Alan Duff
Metaphors and Symbols: Forays Into Language - Roland Bartel
Reader Response in the Classroom - Nicholas Karolides
Selected short stories and handouts

Requirements and Grading:

Attendance 10%
Presentation 10%
Participation 15%
Reading Journal 20%
Reader Response Questions 20 %
Critical Paper 25%

Schedule and Assignments

Jan 14, Tues Introduction to Course
In class: "The Transactional Theory of Literature" - Karolides
Jan 16, Thurs Discuss Chap. 1 Rosenblatt. Begin reading Sons for the Return Home
Jan 21, Tues Discuss Sons Part I (pp 2–120). Read Metaphors & Symbols - Bartel chaps 3 & 5.
Jan 23, Thurs Discuss Sons Part II (pp 122–167)
Jan 28, Tues Discuss Sons Part III (pp 170–217). Discuss handout "Towards a New Definition of Obscenity." Begin reading Leaves of the Banyan Tree.
Jan 30, Thurs Hereniko Interview with Wendt on Video in class
Feb 4, Tues Discuss Book I Leaves. Submit Reading Guide Questions for Book I
Feb 6, Thurs Discuss Book II Leaves. Submit Reading Guide Questions for Book II
Feb 11, Tues Discuss Book III Leaves. Submit Reading Guide Questions for Book III
Feb 13, Thurs Discuss Chap 2 Rosenblatt. Journals due on Wendt novels. Begin reading Once Were Warriors
Feb 18, Tues Discuss Warriors (pp 7–49) Chaps 1–5. Reading Guide Questions pp 1–3.
Feb 20, Thurs Discuss Warriors (pp 50-113) Chaps 6–8. Reading Guide Questions, pp 4–7.
Feb 25, Tues Discuss Warriors (pp 156–198) Chaps 9–11. Begin reading Thompson review.
Feb 27, Thurs Discuss Warriors (pp 156–198) Chaps 12–19. Journals due on Warriors
Mar 4, Tues Discuss The Crisis and the Challenge: Intro and Chap 13. Begin reading Tikongs.
Discuss Thompson review: "In Whose Face." The Contemporary Pacific, vol 6 no 2.
Mar 6, Thurs Discuss Tikongs. Begin reading The Bone People. Handout: Hulme poem.
Mar 18, Tues Discuss Chap 5 Rosenblatt. Discuss The Bone People I. Reading Guide Questions for Part I The Bone People.
Mar 20, Thurs Discuss The Bone People II. Reading Guide Questions for Part II Bone People
Mar 25, Tues Make-up day for the University. No class.
Mar 27, Thurs Discuss The Bone People III. Reading Guide Quests Part III The Bone People
April 1, Tues Discuss The Bone People IV. Reading Guide Quests Part IV The Bone People
April 3, Thurs Discuss Coda Rosenblatt. Journals due on The Bone People. Critical paper handout. Discuss writing assignment.
April 8, Tues Discuss critical paper topics and organization
April 10, Thurs Bring draft of critical paper to class. Handouts of short stories
April 15, Tues Once Were Warriors video
April 17, Thurs Once Were Warriors video
April 22, Tues Papers Due. Discuss short stories
April 24, Thurs Presentations
April 29, Tues Presentations
May 8, Thurs Exam

[Subject: Literature; Pacific/Comparative]

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