This course will examine major works of Maoli
(Indigenous) Pacific poetry from the early nineteenth century to the present
within historical and interpretive contexts.
Texts will be primarily written in or translated into English. We will examine how colonial resistance
surfaced in Pacific poetry, beginning with traditional genres such as chant,
song, and how that changed under the influence of western forms of literacy
(i.e. reading and writing) in the early 1800s.
We will look at the transition from oral tradition to written
literature, as well as the shift from indigenous languages to colonial ones
(primarily English), paying attention to both the interplay between these
factors. We will then turn to
contemporary literature and examine how social/political history has shaped and
influence these modern works, and how it is reflected in them as well. Texts will include multimedia resources such
as audio CDs and video/DVD.
Some questions we will examine include: What are
common themes in Indigenous Pacific poetry?
How does it differ from indigenous writing from other parts of the
world? From western, colonial writing in
the Pacific? How does it engage settler
colonialism within the region? What is the state of indigenous Pacific writing
in the 21st century?
Course goals include: familiarizing students with
key text by indigenous Pacific writers over a period of approximately 150
years, reading these texts as cultural, political, and historical productions
as well as literary one, identify and apply indigenous and other relevant
critical theories to the reading of these texts, and develop more complex
understandings of the dynamics of cultural translation between the practices
and aesthetic concerns of Pacific poetry in conversation with other
Evaluative methods: one shorter paper (5-8
pages), one longer research paper (10-12 pages), midterm, final exam, group
presentation, weekly discussion on Laulima.
Key texts may include:
Kamali, Daren, Tales, Poems and Songs from the Underwater
Kihleng, Emilighter, My Urohs
Marsh, Selina, Fast Talkin’ P.I. (CD)
McDougall, Nalani, The Salt Wind, Ka Makani Pa’akai
Milo, Karla, Dream Fish Floating
Perez, Craig Santos, from Unincorporated Territory
Stewart, Frank, ed. Varua Tupu
Sullivan, Robert, Star Waka
Teaiwa, Teresia and
Sia Figiel Terenesia (CD)
Trask, Haunani, Light in a Crevice Never Seen
Wendt, Albert, ed. Nuanua
Wendt, Al, Reina
Whaitiri and Robert Sullivan, eds. Whetu