Syllabus from 2010

English 182
(Colonial & Post-Colonial World Literature)
Spring 2010

English 182A: M/W: 8:00-9:15 Lafayette L100

“The Truth About Stories”:
Recent fiction by First Nations Writers from Canada

In this course we’ll focus on recent fiction by First Nations writers in Canada. Over the past thirty years especially, Canada’s First Nations population has generated a sizable, fascinating body of literary work, much of which grapples with the lingering effects of colonization. The legacy of displacement, attempts at forced assimilation such as the residential school system, genocide, and racism remains ever present in the lives of First Nations peoples. Furthermore, the rates of poverty, suicide, imprisonment, infant mortality, and disease are still vastly higher in First Nations populations than they are in mainstream Canadian society. At the same time, the indomitable spirit and the strength of traditions such as storytelling are helping to bring about a renewed strength in First Nations peoples and their cultures across Canada.

One of the most vital forces in this cultural renewal has been the work of First Nations writers who use the written word, and most frequently the language of the colonizer, as a site of resistance, activism, and as a means of exploring the connections and ruptures between their traditional and contemporary ways of life. Using Tom King’s Massey Lectures The Truth About Stories: A Native Narrative as a launching point for this course, we’ll read and discuss novels, short stories, and essays by of some of the best known First Nations writers in Canada today, including Lee Maracle, Tomson Highway, Maria Campbell, Thomas King, Eden Robinson, and Richard Van Camp.

Our primary goals in this course will be to read and examine an extensive, though not exhaustive, selection of First Nations literature and to gain a better understanding of the histories and cultures of First Nations peoples in Canada and the issues facing them today. Continually being mindful of our status as non-Native readers, we will also be interrogating our own biases, assumptions, and attitudes and how they affect our readings of these texts and our understandings of these cultures.

Required Texts

• Tomson Highway (Cree),
Kiss of the Fur Queen (U of Oklahoma Press)
• Thomas King (Cheroke),
The Truth About Stories (Anansi)
• Thomas King,
Green Grass, Running Water. (Bantam Doubleday)
• Lee Maracle (Stó:lō), Ravensong (Press Gang/Raincoast Books)

• Beatrice Culleton Mosioner (Métis), In Search of April Raintree

• Eden Robinson (Haisla), Blood Sports

• Joseph Boyden (Métis), Through Black Spruce (Penguin)

• Additional primary and secondary readings to be distributed by the instructor (all mandatory, unless otherwise indicated)

An important note about distributed readings for the course

As part of a trial project here at UVM, I will be distributing the additional readings via iTunes University rather than by (or perhaps in addition to) the library online reserves service. To reach our iTunes U page, go to and log in. From there, look for the English 182 page in iTunes U. The readings are PDFs to download. While you can read them online, I recommend that you print them and have them with you in class.

N.B. All of these PDFs and audio files are copyrighted material that I am distributing to you under the auspices of the TEACH Act. This material is for use in conjunction only with our course. You may not copy and/or redistribute any of this material.


First Essay – 20% (1500 words), DUE TBA
• Second Essay – 25% (2000 words), DUE Monday, April 26
• Blog contributions 15%
• Final exam 30% (May 7)
• Participation and attendance 10%

N.B. Our final exam for English 182A is on Friday May 7. Schedule your travel plans accordingly. I will not allow you to take the final exam on another date unless it is for medical or emergency reasons. Such cases also need to be cleared with the Dean’s office)

Tentative Schedule

Jan. 20: First day of class, introduction; The First Nations in Canada: History
Jan. 25: King, “Godzilla vs. Post-Colonial”; Armstrong, “The Disempowerment of First North American Native Peoples” (iTunes U)
Jan. 27: Basil Johnston “One Generation from Extinction” and “Is That All There Is? Tribal Literature” (iTunes U); King, The Truth About Stories (have entire book read by today)
Feb. 1: King, The Truth About Stories
Feb. 3:
Lee Maracle, Ravensong
Feb 8: Lee Maracle, Ravensong
Feb. 10: Tomson Highway, Kiss of the Fur Queen
Feb. 15: Kiss of the Fur Queen
Feb. 17: Kiss of the Fur Queen
Feb. 22: Kiss of the Fur Queen
Feb. 24:
Beatrice Culleton Mosioner, In Search of April Raintree
March 1:
In Search of April Raintree
March 3:
In Search of April Raintree
March 15:
In Search of April Raintree

March 17: In Search of April Raintree

March 22: Thomas King, Green Grass, Running Water First essay due
March 24:
Green Grass, Running Water
March 29:
Green Grass, Running Water
March 31:
Green Grass, Running Water
April 5: Eden Robinson, Blood Sports
April 7:
Blood Sports
April 12:
Blood Sports
April 14:
Blood Sports
April 19:
Blood Sports
April 21:
Joseph Boyden, Through Black Spruce
April 26:
Through Black Spruce Second essay due

April 28: Through Black SpruceMay 3: Through Black SpruceLast day of class

May 7: FINAL EXAM (8:00 – 10 AM, 200 Perkins)


Participation and blog grades:

Here’s the rubric for how I determine grades for your participation and for blog assignments (if applicable)


A: Nearly 100% attendance, unless due to illness or family emergency AND active participation in class. Clearly on top of the reading and regularly speaks in class. Always engaged in the discussion, whether vocally contributing or not.

B: Missed very few classes (2 or 3 max), unless due to illness or family emergency. Participated in class vocally on a fairly regular basis, but, more importantly, is always listening and attentive to the ongoing discussion. Unprepared for class occasionally, but usually caught up on the reading and willing to contribute.

C: Misses more than three classes for reasons other than illness or family emergency. Clearly behind in the reading on at least several occasions. Mostly attentive and speaks in class several times over the course of the semester. Makes a good effort to stay involved in class discussion and appears interested.

D: Regularly missing from class and/or frequently appears disinterested. Routinely behind on reading and fails to bring books to class. Leaves class from time to time to take phone calls thinking that the professor thinks they are using the restroom, continually passes notes back and forth with someone else, works on other homework or reads the newspaper during class, checks e-mail or text messages while instructor or classmates are speaking, all of which, I should add, are apparent to the instructor and your classmates and immediately qualify you for a D.

F: Attendance and participation not worthy of a D or higher. Failure to attend most classes and/or to participate in any meaningful way.


A: To earn an A on the blog component of the course all assignments must have been completed and comments posted by the assigned deadline (in this case, within one week of the date of the blog posting). Comments are thoughtful, fully answer the question asked, and, if specified, take into account the comments of other students.

B: All assignments completed, mostly on time. Thoughtful comments, though perhaps briefer and less engaging than those that merit an A.

C: Most assignments completed, primarily at the end of the semester and/or comments are short, perfunctory answers to the blog prompt with little consideration of the comments of others.

D: Only partial completion of the assignments and comments show little commitment to making a contribution to the discussion.

F: Failure to complete more than 50% of the assigned blog questions.

N.B. Late assignments will be penalized one grade increment per day past the assigned deadline, unless accompanied by a doctor’s note outlining medical reasons for the delay. Extensions are available, but must be requested in writing no later than one week in advance of the original due date. There are no exceptions.

Academic integrity

Offenses against the Code of Academic Integrity are deemed serious and insult the integrity of the entire academic community. Any suspected violations of the code are taken very seriously and will be forwarded to the Center for Student Ethics & Standards for further investigation.

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