Oral Literature in the Pacific
What does a story do? How do the
words change depending on the person who is telling the story? Which stories do
we really listen to? Which ones do we ignore? Stories are where we begin,
especially when we speak of ourselves out loud.
Spoken words and stories will be the main focus of our study. We’ll be looking
at creation histories, epic myths, slam poetry, kapa haka, oli, stories, and
mele to name just a few of the types of work we will be “reading”. Most of
these texts will be anchored to the Pacific, so we will also look at these
associated histories that place these works in a more approachable context.
We will be reading, watching, and listening to performers and writers from
Hawaiʻi, Aotearoa, Samoa, Fiji, Guahan, and the Philippines. A few of the authors
and/or performers we will read are as follows: Ho‘oulumāhiehie,
Thomas King, Liliʻuokalani, Te Rauparaha, Jamaica Osorio, Tui Scanlan, Ellen
Kehoʻohiwaokalani Prendergast, Selina Marsh, and Karlo Mila. You will be asked to tease out the different layers
present in these stories. Be prepared to discuss how these various layerschange the ways we read and the ways we listen to the story.
Class discussion is important in this class, so please come prepared to
Reading will be available in a course reader or downloadable as pdf files
This is a writing intensive class. You will be assigned 5 papers for this
class. 3 five-page essays will be based on class readings. 1 three-page paper
will be a live performance review and the final three-page paper will be an
oral presentation. This class does have a final exam.