Intro to Lit: Culture & Lit

“Born in Fire”: Pacific Women Writers

Born in fire
you came through
the mountainous dead

to find sandalwood
forests, skeins of fern
the plump pulu
of the hāpuʻu.

— Haunani-Kay Trask in Light in the Crevice Never Seen

Course Description:
The quotation that provides the foundation for this course comes from Light in the Crevice Never Seen–a collection of poetic work by Kanaka scholar and activist, Haunani-Kay Trask. Her poetic and critical work, like those of many other Pacific women writers, attends to questions of womanhood and/or feminism in the Pacific, the desires of foreigners, and the a/effects of many “-isms” (colonialism, imperialism, racism, sexism, etc.) on diverse pacific peoples.

In this writing intensive (WI) course, we will explore how literary elements within short stories, novels, poetry, and film both document and provide roots of growth, solidarity, questioning, revolution, and social change for women writers in the pacific.

Course Texts and Resources:
Island of Shattered Dreams by Chantal Spitz
Light in the Crevice Never Seen by Haunani-Kay Trask
Hawaiʻi Nei: Island Plays by Victoria Nalani Kneubuhl
Iep Jāltok: Poems from a Marshallese Daughter by Kathy Jetnil-Kijiner
Where we once belonged by Sia Figel

Secondary readings will be provided by the instructor via the course website.

Course Requirements:

  • Four Close Readings (20 points total / 5 points each)
  • One Short Essay (15 points)
  • Discussion and Participation (20 points total)
  • Reading Quizzes (10 points total)
  • Midterm (5 points) and Final Exam (10 points)
  • Final Project + 5-minute Presentation (20 points total)

Regular attendance is expected.

Course description is subject to change. Email instructor at with any questions.