Seminar in Literatures of Hawaii (Transformative Relationalities)

ENG 772 Course Description for Spring 2021

Instructor: Candace Fujikane


Seminar in Literatures of Hawaiʻi: Transformative Relationalities


This course examines critical approaches to reading Hawaiʻi’s literatures and literary theories, focusing specifically the ways that struggles over land and preserving sustainable cultural and traditional practices have been the impetus for writers to imagine, debate, and transform social relations in this contested place.  We will examine the ways that Hawaiʻi is an intensified space for negotiating the complexities of social relations between diverse peoples and holds the potential for radically different social relations.  How do the forces of occupation, settler colonialism, capitalism, militarism, heteropatriarchy, racism, and globalization narrated in the literatures we have long called “local” influence ways that we as people in Hawaiʻi envision alternative social relations and alternative economies?  In what ways have narratives of solidarity under the term “local” provided both possibilities for transformation and masked other problematic processes of domination?  How do Kanaka ʻŌiwi moʻolelo provide a knowledge base from which Hawaiʻi writers build affinities and through which both ʻŌiwi and settlers are currently engaged in both statist and non-statist forms of nation-building?  Under these conditions, how do the literatures and theories of Hawaiʻi offer us ways of envisioning new land-based social possibilities and more sustainable futures?


  The course will trace the contours of this shifting terrain by traveling through key historical and narrative moments of peoples’ movements in land struggles.  We will begin with a text that foregrounds a clear political shift to settler colonialism in Hawaiʻi: Queen Liliʻuokalani’s autobiography, Hawaii’s Story by Hawaii’s Queen, read in the context of Noenoe Silva’s research on the Aloha ʻĀina movement. Narratives of local resistance against continental forms of domination in the 1970s, like those Growing Up Local and A Nation Rising, correspond to visually powerful representations of local solidarity in newspaper photographs of people protesting against police-enforced eviction in front of the Waiāhole Poi Factory. Protesters linked arms in a human blockade across Kamehameha Highway as they fought to preserve a local rural lifestyle threatened by continental notions of progress and development. More recently, critiques of the term “local” have emerged from texts like Lois-Ann Yamanaka’s Saturday Night at the Pahala Theatre, R. Zamora Linmark’s Rolling the R’s, Gizelle Gajelonia, Thirteen Ways of Looking at TheBus, Nora Okja Keller’s Fox Girl, and Kathy Jetnil-Kijiner’s Iep Jāltok, texts that engage literary debates over the relations of power between different groups in Hawaiʻi that include racism, gendered forms of oppression and homophobia as well as the global exigencies of corporate development, militarism, the biotech industry and the threats they pose to sustainability in Hawaiʻi. Studies of Asian settler colonialism, like Dean Saranillio’s Unsustainable Empire: Alternative Histories of Hawaiʻi Statehood, take up the problems of ongoing process of settler colonialism that Kanaka ʻŌiwi continue to struggle against, as well as powerful alliances between Kanaka ʻŌiwi and settler allies that are transforming the oppressive conditions of occupation and settler colonialism. To consider the forms of relationality between land and people and alternative land-based economies, we will be looking at Hoʻoulumāhiehie’s The Epic Tale of Hiʻiakaikapoliopele in the context of kuʻualoha hoʻomanawanui’s Voices of Fire: Reweaving the Literary Lei of Pele and Hiʻiaka and Brandy Nālani McDougall’s collection of poetry, The Salt-Wind. We will conclude the course by considering a cluster of multi-genre texts on the struggle to protect Mauna a Wākea from the construction of the Thirty Meter Telescope, including my own book, Mapping Abundance for a Planetary Future: Kanaka Maoli and Critical Settler Cartographies in Hawaiʻi and Detours: A Decolonial Guide to Hawaiʻi. Mauna a Wākea has been the focal point bringing so many different groups together to protect the sacred mauna, even as it has been a rallying point for other movements, including the independence movement, ‘Ōiwi resurgence movements, restoration movements rebuilding loko iʻa (fishponds) at Kahana and other places, movements against climate change—all with the purpose of mapping abundant futurities.


Student learning outcomes include an awareness of the contributions of Hawaiʻi literatures to the formation of the contemporary field of English Studies (including such subfields as ethnic literature, rhetoric, indigenous land-based literacy, visual literacy, and cartography), an understanding of advanced research methods, written and oral ability to place one’s own scholarly work within broader critical conversations, independent research using primary and secondary sources.


Assignments and course requirements: Short writing assignments that will help to build toward your final research project (30%); two presentations, one on a reading assignment (10%) and one on the final project; one 7-page conference paper that outlines the objectives of the seminar paper with a bibliography of at least ten entries (10%); 20-page seminar paper that builds on the conference paper (50%), attendance and participation.


1) Queen Liliʻuokalani, Hawaii’s Story by Hawaii’s Queen (1898)

2) Eric Chock, James Harstad, Darrell Lum, and Jim Teter, eds., Growing Up Local: An 

Anthology of Poetry and Prose from Hawaiʻi (1998)

3) Lois-Ann Yamanaka, Saturday Night at the Pahala Theatre (1997)

4) Zamora Linmark, Rolling the R’s (2011)

5) Gizelle Gajelonia, Thirteen Ways of Looking at TheBus (2010): we will be purchasing this 

directly from Susan Schultz at Tinfish Press

6) Nora Okja Keller, Fox Girl (2003)

7) Kathy Jetnil-Kijiner, Iep Jāltok (2017)

8) Brandy Nālani McDougall, The Salt-Wind (2013)

9)  Hoʻoulumāhiehie, The Epic Tale of Hiʻiakaikapoliopele (1905), translation by Puakea 

Nogelmeier. We will be purchasing this directly from Nogelmeier at Awaiaulu Press.

10) kuʻualoha hoʻomanawanui, Voices of Fire: Reweaving the Literary Lei of Pele and Hiʻiaka 


11) Dean Itsuji Saranillio, Unsustainable Empire: Alternative Histories of Hawaiʻi Statehood 


12)  Candace Fujikane, Mapping Abundance for a Planetary Future: Kanaka Maoli and Critical 

Settler Cartographies in Hawaiʻi (2021). My book will be released in February.

13)  Noelani Goodyear-Kaʻōpua and Ikaika Hussey, eds., A Nation Rising: Hawaiian Movements 

for Life, Land, and Sovereignty (2014)

14) Hokulani Aikau and Vernadette Gonzalez, eds. Detours: A Decolonial Guide to Hawaiʻi 



Additional readings will be available as pdfs on Laulima.