Seminar in Hawaiian Literature

ENG 773 (1) (CSAP)

Seminar in Hawaiian Literature: Kumulipo—Hawaiian Cosmogonic Genealogies


Mondays, 3:15-5:45pm

Fall 2020


ʻŌlelo Mua (Introduction)


Kumulipo is one of a handful of koʻihonua (cosmogonic genealogies) in Hawaiian culture. It has not been studied nearly enough as an important literary or cultural text. This course will focus on Kumulipo as a key Hawaiian literary text, studied alongside theories, practices, and politics of translation. We will read Kumulipo in multiple English translations and do some comparative work with other ʻŌiwi (Native Hawaiian) and Polynesian origin texts (specifically Māori, Sāmoan, Tongan and Tahitian), as well as relevant chapters from the Bible, such as Genesis. We will also look at the influence of Kumulipo on contemporary ʻŌiwi literature and arts.


Course Goals, Methods, and Key Questions


The goals of the course are to 1. Familiarize students with Kumulipo as an exemplary literary text in and beyond Kanaka ʻŌiwi culture; 2. Familiarize students with key texts, scholars, and discussions within the field of translation studies and literary studies; 3. Practice comparative literary studies work alongside archival research; 4. Develop more complex understanding of the dynamics of the historical, cultural, and political conditions surrounding the creation, production, and translation of various texts, such as koʻihonua, specifically Kumulipo, across time.


Methods: Read a selection of primary texts and translations alongside other kinds of texts (visual arts) and critical texts; class discussion, online discussion board response to questions, research paper, oral presentation on a specific text, writer/editor/translator, theme, issue, completion of a final research-based project.


Salient questions: What is a koʻihonua, and why is it important to study? What understandings of Hawaiian (and Pacific) literary production and cultural aesthetics can we come to through close reading and analysis of such texts? What do such texts contribute to our overall understanding of Hawaiian literature? How do such literary texts (and their translations) act to counter settler hegemonic discourse about Hawaiʻi, Kanaka Maoli, and Kanaka Maoli intellectual and aesthetic production? What is important to understand about translation, particularly in regard to politics and historical contextualization? Why do these questions matter?


Student Learning Outcomes:


-Familiarization with the concept of koʻihonua (cosmogonic genealogy) and its importance to Kanaka Maoli (Native Hawaiian) and Polynesian cultures;

-Ability to identify and apply indigenous literary theories and methodologies and engage them in critical discussion in reading and interpreting these texts;

-Understanding key terms and methods in the fields of Folklore Studies and Translation Studies as they apply to Hawaiian literature;

-Develop a more complex understanding of the dynamics of cultural translation between the practices and aesthetic concerns of traditional forms of oral and written expression and those of contemporary western-based or western-influenced literature;

-Appreciate the role of Hawaiian language as integral to the development of cultural practice, including the themes and perspectives expressed in Hawaiian literature as a product and expression of cultural practice;

-Demonstrate advanced critical analysis of literature in general, and Hawaiian literature in particular, in both written and oral formats;

-Increase student practice and understanding of graduate-level research and writing, and adeptness with the MLA style guide.



Oral, Written and Research Assignments:


-Regular (weekly) written responses to assigned readings

-Lead a class discussion on a specific wā (time period) in the Kumulipo; incorporate research by at least two scholars and/or translators in the presentation.

-Write a short paper (8-10 pages) on a specific wā (time period) in relation to the assigned wā for leading a class discussion.

-Write a final research paper (15-20 pages) either 1. Comparing two (or more) translations of Kumulipo; 2. Comparing Kumulipo and one or more other Hawaiian koʻihonua; 3. Comparing two or more other koʻihonua, at least one of which must be Polynesian.

-Conference-length oral presentation (15-20 min.) of the final project, including a powerpoint or equivalent.

-Attend and participate in a Library Workshop led by one of the Hawaiian collection librarians at Hamilton Library.

-An archive-based research assignment.



Primary Readings:


Apo Perkins, Leialoha. He Kumulipo, analyses of Theodore Kelsey’s “Field notes to the Kumulipo, 1992.

Bassnett, Susan. Translation Studies, 2013.

Beckwith, Martha W. The Kumulipo, a Hawaiian Creation Chant, 1951.

Charlot, John. 2014. A Kumulipo of Hawaiʻi.

—. Hawaiian Education, 2005.

—. Chanting the Universe, 1983

Edith Kanakaʻole Foundation. The Kumulipo, wā 1-2, 2011.

Fornander, Abraham, ed. misc. creation chant texts (tba).

Henry, Teuira. Selections from Ancient Tahiti, 1928.

hoʻomanawanui, kuʻualoha.  “The Kumulipo as Literature,” n.d.

Johnson, R. Kawena. Kumulipo, a Global Heritage, 2006.

Kuwada, Bryan Kamaoli. “To Translate or Not to Translate: Revising the Translating of Hawaiian Language Texts,” 2009.

Liliʻuokalani. The Kumulipo, a Hawaiian Creation Chant, 1898.

McDougall, Brandy Nālani. 2016. Finding Meaning, Kaona and Contemporary Hawaiian Literature, 2016.

Nogelmeier, Puakea. Mai Paʻa i ka Leo, 2010.

Oliveira, Kapā. “Mele Koʻihonua.” Ancestral Places, Understanding Kanaka Geographies.

Venuti, Lawrence. 2014. Translation Studies Reader, 2014.