Introduction to English Studies

Introduction to English Studies

In this course, we will all be examining our roles as critics who read, think, and write about literary and cultural texts.  As literary critics, we will begin by engaging in close textual analyses of the ways that stories are told and the narrative strategies writers use to challenge or transform the material conditions of their lives.  We will discuss basic literary terminology, concepts, methods, and practices that illustrate the connections among people who read and write texts and the larger conditions of production and systems of power in which their texts are produced and read.  We will be analyzing different genres of writing (poetry, short stories, novels, films, autobiographies, personal essays, inscriptions of mo‘olelo) and how these forms are used in ways that respond to material conditions, including historical events and movements.

We will be focusing in particular on definitions and discussions of ideology and the social relations of power that underpin the ideological functions of literature.  With this in mind, we will compare different points of entry into analyzing a range of texts assigned for the course, approaches that foreground the intersectionality of class, gender, sexuality, race/ethnicity, indigeneity, and location, and then we will examine how these multiple and interlocking critical frameworks cannot be separated from each other even as they are often made (problematically) to compete with each other.  Some approaches, like literary mapping techniques, go beyond an emplotment of geographical spaces to mapping the social relations between people, their relationship to land, and the epistemological underpinnings of these relationships.  We will also map out our own positionality as readers as we engage in a careful examination of the processes by which we “make meaning.”

Student Learning Outcomes (SLOs) include an awareness of critical approaches to the contemporary field of English Studies, including the purpose, practice, and potential of literary and rhetorical study of texts that include such subfields as American literature, indigenous literatures, ethnic literatures, rhetoric, genre studies and cultural studies; written and oral ability to situate the study of these literatures within broader critical and historical conversations.  Students will improve their ability to ask questions of and to read, analyze, and interpret complex literary texts, using relevant literary terminology critically and creatively within the conventions of academic writing.  Consideration given to Hawaiian texts in cultural and historical context.

Requirements: One two-page paper, two four-page papers, peer-editing, short assignments, a final exam, attendance and participation.

Required Texts (will be available at UH Bookstore):
R. Zamora Linmark, Rolling the R’s(1995)

Robin Wall Kimmerer, Braiding Sweetgrass (2015)

Brandy Nālani McDougall, The Salt-Wind / Ka Makani Pa‘akai (2008)

Out of print—on Laulima:

Wachowski Brothers.  The Matrix: The Shooting Script (2001)


Additional essays will be uploaded to Laulima; readings may include texts by Althusser, Zizek, Pualani Kanakaʻole Kanahele, Henry Louis Gates, Kathy Jetnil-Kijiner, Foucault, Butler, Leanne Simpson, kuʻualoha hoʻomanawanui, Kevin Quashie, 



            Paper #1 (2 pages):                 15%

            Paper #2 (4 pages):                 20%

            Paper #3 (4 pages):                 20%

            Assignments (5):                     20%

            Final exam:                              15%

            Peer-editing:                             5%

            Participation:                            5%