E440 Single Author: Patricia Grace
Māori writer Patricia Grace (1937- ) is one of the foundational writers of contemporary Pacific literature in English who helped establish the field as we now know it. Her award-winning, literary works span multiple writing genres, including novels, short stories, and children’s literature. Over the decades, Grace’s range of work has demonstrated the power and importance of a Māori woman’s voice in a region once dominated by male and non-indigenous writing. Novels such as Potiki (1986) have been translated into multiple languages (French, German, Finnish, Dutch), reprinted numerous times, and taught in classrooms around the world, providing for many in and outside the Pacific a first glimpse into modern indigenous Pacific writing, issues, and lives. In Wahine Toa (1991), Grace teamed up with Māori artist Robyn Kahukiwa to represent in text and images the powerful Māori female deities often demeaned, misunderstood, or ignored in anthropologically-based writing by others, particularly non-Māori and men. Her children’s literature, such as Watercress Tuna and the Children of Champion Street (1984) were among the first to portray contemporary Māori families in a positive way that also reflected diverse cultural identities. This course provides as opportunity for students to read a representative sample of writing by one of the most important and influential writers of world literature from the Pacific.
We will also explore cultural and literary style, as well as themes and issues of genre in both Grace’s work and in relation to the larger field of Pacific, women’s, and world literature. Some questions we will explore in considering Grace’s writing include, what influence does oral traditions and traditional mythology play in Grace’s work set in contemporary times? What other cultural, social, political and/or historical influences are important in her writing? What is the role of language in Grace’s work, when she represents Māori culture and includes Māori language, yet writes in English? Why are issues of language and linguistic representation important? How does Grace’s writing “between languages” represent the interplay between the indigenous and settler colonial populations in Aotearoa (New Zealand)? How has social/political history shaped and influenced her work, and how is it reflected in them as well? How does Grace’s work represent Pacific literature in a global context? What can we appreciate in Grace’s work on its own merits?
Texts are primarily written in English; no prior knowledge of Māori language or culture is required, although students with such backgrounds are encouraged to utilize their skills and knowledge throughout the course in class discussions, course papers, and other assignments.
Methods of evaluation include class participation through regular attendance and in-class discussions, Laulima discussion board responses, oral presentations on assigned topics chosen in consultation with the professor, two formal research-based papers (4000 word minimum), short written responses toprimary texts assigned, quizzes on readings, a mid-term and a final exam.
PRIMARY TEXTS FOR THE COURSE:
- Potiki (novel)
- Cousins (novel)
- Baby No Eyes (novel)
- Chappy (novel)
- selected short stories
- articles, essays, and additional readings on Grace and her work
The four novels will be available via the UH Bookstore; three are available as Kindle e-books. The short stories and additional readings will be posted on Laulima.