Contemporary American Indian Novels & Film
Spring 2001


English 3344-001 Office Hrs: T/Th 2-3:30; W by apt.. 405 CH
Instructor: Dr. Roemer 405 Carlisle Hall; 817-272-2729 voice mail
T/TH 2-3:30 Please schedule all appointments.
Preston 302 Phone: 272-2729; if you leave a message, include your name and phone number.

Goals & [Means]

1. to introduce students to selected novels and a few films written or produced since 1968 by authors with Native American heritages and to resources for studying these texts [classes/readings/films and tapes]

2. to discuss aesthetic, theoretical, ethical, and political issues raised by the texts and films (e.g., concepts of identity, place, gender and language and to integrations of mainstream and non-mainstream cultures and oral and written literatures)

3. to examine the possibilities of using self-reflective reader- response writing to explore how each student transforms texts into images and concepts meaningful to him or her [paper]

Goals & Assessment (See also the criteria sections of "Examinations" and "Paper," and the "Grading, etc." section

By the end of the semester, students who have successfully completed the in- and out-of-class assignments should (1) know basic biographical and bibliographical information about each of the novelists studied; (2) be able to discuss intelligently (a) significant issues raised in the works studied and (b) the general issues indicated in goal #2 above; (3) be able to articulate explanations for their responses to selected works by Native American authors. Progress toward these goals will be assessed in class discussions (goals 1 & 2), examinations (goals 1 & 2), and the paper (goal 3).

Required Readings Required Film Viewings
GRAND AVENUE, Sarris Optional, if available:
Course Packet of short readings.  

Topics, Readings, Exams, Papers, Tentative Dates

Introductions: The Course; Historical, Cultural, and Institutional Contexts and Controversies

Readings: Handouts & Readings Packet 1/16, 18
First Examination (half hour, short answer) 1/23

Establishing an Audience: Novels of the 60s & 70s

A. A (30,000-year) Belated Ground Breaking via Pulitzer

Reading: HOUSE MADE OF DAWN 1/23,25,30
(Classes include
tape of "Man Made of Words.")
B. New York Times Front-Page Recognition

Reading: WINTER IN THE BLOOD 2/6, 8
(Classes include audio

D. "The" Canonized "Indian" Novel

Reading: CEREMONY 2/13, 15

"Estoy-eh-mutt . . ." in packet. 2/20
Second Examination (short answers & essays) 2/22

Historical Reconstructions

Readings: FOOLS CROW 2/27, 3/1, 6
TRACKS 3/8, 13, 15
[Spring Break 3/19-25]
SOLAR STORMS 3/27, 29, 4/3

Paper Due 4/10

The Diversity of the "Present"

Readings: GRAND AVENUE 4/5, 10, 12
Film: GRAND AVENUE 4/12, 17
Reading: LONE RANGER & TONTO 4/19, 24
Film: SMOKE SIGNALS 4/26, 5/2
[If NATURALLY NATIVE is available in video,
there will be an optional afternoon viewing.]

Review for Final 5/4

Final Examination 5/8


Exams, Paper, Criteria, Resources, Grading, Warnings, and Encouragement


Except for the first exam, each exam will consist of two parts: (1) brief identifications and questions taken from the readings and class discussions; and (2) essay questions related to class discussions but representing applications not examined directly in class. During the class before each exam, I will discuss the nature of the questions in detail and distribute study guides. The first exam will be a short-answer exam on the handouts (including the list of research resources in this syllabus) and packet background readings. The final exam will include a take-home portion focusing on the relationships between novel and film versions of contemporary American Indian fictions.

Grading criteria for the essay questions include a demonstrated ability to maintain focus on the questions and to support claims with relevant references to the readings.



Paper (due 4/10): (Approximately 8-10 pp.; 2000 - 2500 words.) Each student will select one of the assigned novels. The paper will include (1) a general portrait of the student as a reader, (2) descriptions of three to five important "influences" (transformational associations) that shaped his or her responses to specific parts and/or general motifs or issues in the text, (3) analyses of the effects of each of the influences, and (4) a statement of how this reading/writing experience either reinforced or modified his or her general assumptions about his or her reading processes. Examination of each of the influences should include a definition of the influence, identification of which part or parts of the text were affected, and a discussion of the resulting response. A good way to begin this paper is to take notes as you read. When you arrive at a particularly strong negative or positive response, note down why you think you responded this way. After finishing the book, see if there are any recurrent patterns that can become the bases for the most important transformative associations discussed.

Grading criteria include the demonstrated ability to fulfill the above-stated requirements of the paper and to write competently (this includes mechanical skills in grammar, punctuation, spelling, etc., as well the ability to invent and construct coherent sentences, paragraphs, and paper sections.) A free writing lab is available for students who have difficulty writing. I will also examine outlines, rough drafts, etc. as long as they are presented at least one week before the paper due date. Under normal circumstances, no late papers will be accepted.

Resources for the Study of Contemporary American Indian Novels

The paper does not require "outside" reading in biographical, critical, or theoretical scholarship. For those of you who are, nevertheless, interested in contemporary Native American fiction, there are valuable and readily available resources, especially in UTA's Minority Cultures Collection on the second floor of the Central Library.
Reference resources include: A. LaVonne Brown Ruoff's American Indian Literatures; Kenneth Roemer's Native American Writers of the United States (Dictionary of Literary Biography, Vol. 175); Andrew Wiget's Handbook of Native American Literature, Louis Owens & Tom Collonnese's American Indian Novelists; Kay Juricek and Kelly Morgan's Contemporary Native American Authors; Janet Witalec's Native North American Literature; Andrew Wiget's Native American Literature. Critical sources include Charles Larson's American Indian Fiction (out of date), Kenneth Lincoln's Native American Renaissance, Paula Gunn Allen's Sacred Hoop, Arnold Krupat's Voice in the Margin, Louis Owens' Other Destinies and Mixedblood Messages, Richard Fleck's Critical Perspectives on Native American Fiction, James Ruppert's Mediation in Contemporary Native American Fiction, Catherine Rainwater, Dreams of Fiery Stars, Eric Gary Anderson, American Indian Literature and the Southwest, Sid Larsen, Captive in the Middle, Susan Berry Brill de Ramirez, Contemporary American Indian Literatures and the Oral Tradition, Joni Adamson's American Indian Literature, Environmental Justice and Ecocriticism, Craig Womack's Red on Red, and Jace Weaver's That the People Might Live. Important journals include: SAIL (Studies in American Indian Literatures), which has its own excellent Web site (see the inside front cover of the current issue), American Indian Culture and Research Journal (AICRJ), American Indian Quarterly (AIQ), and Wicazo Sa Review. Some excellent articles have also appeared in less specialized journals such as Critical Inquiry, College English, American Literary History, and American Literature. Bibliographical guides to articles and books on specific authors can be found in recent issues of American Literary Scholarship, the PMLA Bibliographies, SAIL, AICRJ. The First Search internet resource available in the Library can also be helpful. Many Web sites can provide information on Native writers in general and on specific authors. Besides the SAIL site mentioned above ( <> ), one of the best general sites is <> , the American Native Press Archives. Examples of the hundreds of individual author Web sites include <>,>, <> (Momaday homepage), and <http://users.mwci. net/~lapoz/ MBio.html> . The NativeLit-L e-mail list address is: <>. There is a general "American Indian Resources" Web site: <>. The Fall 1998 issue of Wicazo Sa (13.2) offers an overview of internet resources in Native American studies

Grading, Etc.

Approximate weights of assignments: First Exam -10%; Second Exam - 25%; ; Paper - 25%; Final Exam (including the-home portion) - 40%


Professors are no longer allowed to drop students for excessive absences. If you plan to withdraw from the course, you must follow University procedures. If you do not, you will receive an F for the semester. For each 5 unexcused absences, a student's semester grade will be lowered by a half grade.

In the past I have had few problems with plagiarism or other forms of academic dishonesty. An excellent definition of plagiarism is included in the UTA Graduate School THESIS AND DISSERTATION MANUAL OF STYLE (CH. VII, "A Writer's Responsibility," which I use as my guide. (A web site for the manual is located at: <> .) Instances of academic dishonesty, including plagiarism, will be turned over immediately to the office of the Associate Vice-President for Student Affairs.


Intangible grading factors: improvement and consistent class participation have turned many a C+ into a B- and quite a few B+s into A-s. I am very willing to accommodate disabled students. Early in the semester, they should present their authorized documents from appropriate University offices.