Literature of the Pacific

What story does your body tell? Beyond the assumptions others may make based on physical appearance, or what you might convey through superficial adornment, what narratives does your body perpetuate? The Proto Polynesian word “tātau” (tattoo), is both a noun, the physical mark placed on the body, and a verb, to write. Rooted in this etymology, this course will examine Native bodies within and across Polynesia and the greater Moana Nui, treating them as texts that tell the stories of individuals, communities, and ecosystems. As a result of forces such as migration, colonialism, militarism, and tourism, the contemporary Pacific is home to myriad bodies, which are often a complex amalgamation of diverse races, nationalities, cultural perspectives, sexualities, and socioeconomic classes. We will analyze a wide range of sources—fiction, drama, essays, paintings, photographs, autobiography, legal documents, film, rap music, and even beauty pageants—to examine the ways contemporary Native peoples variously navigate, instigate, and resist the multiple and overlapping readings of their bodies as texts.  We will pay special attention to: (1) The importance of reading and writing bodies as rooted to specific homelands and; (2) the ways Native authors and artists draw on international and/or transnational cultural, intellectual, and political ideas and movements to create inter/textual notions of regional and global indigeneity.